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JavaOne 2006: Java To Be Open-Sourced...Just Not Quite Yet

Open-Sourcing Java Is On the Sun Agenda; Just Not Now

Jonathan Schwartz (pictured here at last year's JavaOne) will stand up today in the Moscone Center in San Francisco today and deliver his first keynote address as Sun's President & CEO. Will Sun announce the open-sourcing of Java? The answer, increasingly clearly, is "Yes...and no."

Speaking yesterday at the precursor to JavaOne proper, "NetBeans Day," Schwartz and Rich Green, the man he recalled to Sun (from Cassatt) to take up the strategically key SVP, Software position once occupied by Schwartz himself, staged what can only have been a well-rehearsed dialog in which the roadmap for Java was made clear: open-sourcing Java is on the agenda; just not quite yet.

In the meantime, there are carefully coordinated moves afoot to ensure that the industry in no way doubts Sun's open-source pedigree. A "timeline" is in circulation pinpointing the company's major open source initiatives since 1999, from JSP & Servlets (part of Tomcat) and Jini back then to DReaM-CAS and Sun Java Studio Enterprise UML in 2006.

As well as at Schwartz's keynote today, much of this crucial issue will be discussed at JavaOne on SYS-CON.TV, when Sun's Chief Open Source Officer, Simon Phipps is interviewed live from the show floor by Jeremy Geelan on Thursday, May 18, at 11:20AM. The interview will be streamed live at SYS-CON.com and then made available after the Conference as an on-demand video at SYS-CON.TV.

The Java and Open Source communities alike are already vibrating with responses to this so-near-but-yet-so-far positioning by Sun.

One developer, Rob Abbe, posted to a developer Web site:

"While teasing zealots with the notion of open source Java, Sun is emphasizing the importance of compatibility and the value of the Java brand. These important aspects of Java seem foreign to open source supporters." 
Meantime in the blogosphere, a world Jonathan Schwartz inhabits prominently, blogger Weiqi Gao yesterday pronounced:
"I think Sun will open source Java. If not tomorrow, then within this year."
Which sounds all well and good until one reads what Weiqi Gao goes on to write:
"If they don't, I'll give up Java altogether and become a Ruby-on-Rails fanatic."
So the question being asked already at this year's JavaOne is, will the clock run out on Sun? Will, in other words, the goodwill of the Java and the Open Source communities be simply over-stretched by the notion raised at yesterday's NetBeans Day, which seems to be - according to Rich Green who has the all-important role in this decision - that Sun is calling for more developers to contribute, and more developers as individuals to get involved in the Java Community Process, and only then if the community involvement seems to "go well," whatever that means exactly, would Java be open-sourced.

The developer community is left wondering quite how this week's approach squares with Schwartz's contention, when he was in the job to which he's now appointed Green, that "if you're really committed to interoperability and choice for consumers, you must deliver your code into the market place" and/or his assertion last November that "Every product at Sun will at some point be free or open sourced. Every one."



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