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From Brad Cox <bradj...@gmail.com>
Subject Sun lashes out at open source J2SE
Date Mon, 23 May 2005 21:51:34 GMT

    Sun lashes out at open source J2SE

            Apache plans dubbed 'destructive'

Sun Microsystems has expressed "serious doubts" about the usefulness of 
the latest Apache Foundation project to create an open source 
implementation of the Java 2 Standard Edition (J2SE).

In an interview with *vnunet.com* <http://www.vnunet.com>, James 
Gosling, Java creator and Sun vice president in charge of the 
programming language, explained that he did not understand why the open 
source consortium was undertaking the project.

"I would never do that," he said about Apache's Project Harmony. "There 
are so many more interesting things to do with my life."

The Apache Foundation announced the project *earlier this month* 
<http://www.infomaticsonline.co.uk/2127323>. The organisation aims to 
collect a group of developers and create an open source implementation 
of the J2SE, which is needed to run Java code on a desktop computer.

Sun requires J2SE implementations to pass rigorous testing requirements 
before they can call themselves Java compliant. While this ensures 
compatibility between the different J2SEs, it also means that the 
functionalities of the final product are identical to Sun's existing 

Sun put the detailed requirements in place to prevent "forking", a 
fragmentation of the language that would force software developers to 
certify their code for each fork.

A similar development with Linux allowed Red Hat and SuSE to become the 
de facto standards. Major software vendors, such as Oracle and Computer 
Associates, now certify their software only for these Linux distributions.

Sun welcomes contributions from outside the company to the source code, 
and has a Java Community Process in place to foster discussion within 
the developer community and encourage input on the future direction of 
the language.

The inability to fork Java is the only major difference between the 
software licence that Sun uses for Java and the GPL-like licence that 
the Apache Foundation will use, according to Gosling.

"[Apache] says a lot of words about why they want to do it. Exactly why 
is it critical to have a delta between our source licence and the source 
licence that they think is appropriate?" he said.

"I understand why they would like it to be different. From our point of 
view that would actually be more destructive than helpful. It boils down 
to forking: they believe that the ability to fork is an absolutely 
critical right."

Gosling claimed that Java developers of enterprise software support Sun 
in its refusal to open the source code of Java. But they are eclipsed by 
more vocal open source advocates.

"If we could get the enterprise software architects to be as vocal as 
the Slashdot crowd, it would be a really interesting discussion," he said.

Sun will not contribute to the project, Gosling said, revoking a comment 
that another Sun vice president made on his blog earlier.

"We hardly have the energy to work on our [J2SE implementation]. We'll 
be glad to get co-operative and helpful, but there is only so much 
energy that is free and donatable," Gosling told *vnunet.com* 

In response to Gosling's remarks, Geir Magnusson, an independent 
software developer with the Foundation, told /vnunet.com/ that Apache 
does not aim to fork Java.

An open source J2SE implementation could allow the software to spread to 
new devices, according to Magnusson, who pointed out that Sun's J2SE 
only supports Solaris, Linux and Windows.

"This is about producing a J2SE implementation that can be taken and 
ported and used in more places," he said.

"If I am building a device that uses Java and I could get a complete 
J2SE implementation from Apache, then we would have a new place for Java.

"It would be nice if every Linux distribution came with Java. Java 
should be like a dial-tone."

Magnusson added that current J2SE providers, such as IBM, BEA and Sun, 
all have to build and test their own software. An open source 
implementation would allow them to share that work.

He is not surprised by Sun's lack of enthusiasm about his latest 
project, however. Magnusson has spoken with the company about Harmony 
and has invited it to participate. "Sun is a little sceptical that we 
are able to do it," he said.

Sun has provided Magnusson with a slot at the upcoming Java One 
conference from 27-30 June in San Francisco.

The development of the open source J2SE software is expected to take 
several years.

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