Sun: No decision on open source Java

Contrary to published reports, Sun Microsystems has not made a decision as to whether or not to release its Java platform under an open source software license, company executives said on Friday.

On Thursday, an online report quoted a Sun engineer as saying the open-sourcing of Java will happen, which appeared to indicate a major shift in Sun's policy of releasing the Java code under a non-open-source license.

However, a company spokesman on Thursday contradicted that assertion. "No decision has been made," said a Sun spokesman. "It's a decision that would have to be made at a fairly senior executive level."

Sun has been criticized by open-source developers for refusing to release its Java software under an open-source license, which would allow developers to freely modify and reuse the Java source code without the compatibility restrictions that accompany the current Java software license. Sun has in the past said that a switch to an open source Java license might place the platform at risk of forking into a series of incompatible products.

"Most of the comments I've heard from folks about open sourcing Java have been ... concerned," wrote Java creator James Gosling in an April blog entry. "Developers value Java's cross platform interoperability and reliability. They're afraid that if Java is open-sourced then someone will try to fragment the community by creating incompatible versions of Java and ignore the community process," he wrote.

On Friday, Gosling confirmed that Sun had still not made a decision on whether or not to open source Java. "Despite any of the articles, the debate is still going on, fast and furious," he said via email.

Open source has been a hot topic at Sun last week. On Wednesday, the company confirmed that it is now planning to release its Solaris operating system under an open source license.

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