Sun Says Java Moving Towards Full Open Source

Sun Microsystems Inc. is moving toward making its Java technology fully open source, a company executive said Tuesday, addressing an audience of programmers here at the ApacheCon Europe 2000.

"There will be some magic point in the future, I believe where we'll reach critical mass. When we reach that point at Sun, you'll see us go to a much more open source," said George Paolini Sun's vice president of technologies advocacy and community development in the conference's first keynote speech.

Seeking to reassure the highly targeted audience, Paolini did not give any time frame or specifics for when Sun may relinquish control over Java and turn it into a full open-source technology.

"We're not adverse to full open source (for Java). It's really, what is the right model for that open source and where is that model for that life cycle," Paolini said.

Sun has already released its Java programming language under the Sun Community Source License, but that licensing model that has been met with much criticism from the open-source community. Last July, Sun did release the source code for its StarOffice office productivity suite under the GNU General Public License (GPL), a move that was applauded by open-source advocates at the time.

In an interview with the IDG News Service after his keynote address, Paolini reiterated that Sun will eventually also make Java's source code fully open but said that he could not give any predictions as to when.

"I know you want me to say it will be in a week or in a year, but I can't say that. I can say that open source for Java is our goal. But we also continue to provide an environment that benefits everyone," Paolini said.

Sun's licensing program for Java is really aimed at large corporations and is mainly an effort to keep the rapidly growing technology from being fragmented, according to Paolini.

"We've really taken a simple program language to a platform very quickly. Also we don't want Java to 'fork,' which is where we may disagree with the open-source community," Paolini said. "Forking" occurs when open-source programmers disagree about software development plans, leading to the release of different software versions.

ApacheCon Europe 2000, in London, runs from Oct. 23-25. More information can be found online at http://www.apachecon.com/2000/EU/html/special-events.html/.

Sun Microsystems, in Palo Alto, California, can be reached at http://www.sun.com/.

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