Oracle Corp’s vice president of its Java platform group has questioned the decision made by Sun Microsystems Inc to release its reference Java implementation under the GNU General Public License.
Steven Harris told Computer Business Review he believed the release of the Java code as open source would be beneficial, but questioned whether the Santa Clara, California-based company would have been better advised to have released it under an Apache license.
It’s a good thing that they’re open sourcing it, and it opens up access to people who previously considered there were barriers to it, he said, while noting that those barriers were pretty low in the first place.
However, he also repeated comments made by IBM Corp that the choice of the GNU GPL made the project incompatible with existing projects under the Apache and Eclipse initiatives.
The most active Java communities are Apache and Eclipse. It is unfortunate that they did not provide a path that would allow these projects to grow, said Harris. The community is in Apache and Eclipse. Sun’s choice creates a new community.
Harris’ comment echoes a statement made by Rod Smith, vice president of emerging Internet technologies in the IBM software group after Sun announced that it had chosen the GPL for its open source Java project.
In light of the Apache projects, we have discussed with Sun our strong belief that Sun should contribute their Java technologies to Apache rather than starting another open source Java project, or at least make their contributions available under an ‘Apache friendly’ license to ensure the open source Java community isn’t fragmented and disenfranchised, the statement read.
Speaking to Computer Business Review earlier this month Sun’s chief open source officer, Simon Phipps, explained that using the GPL would overcome fears about license compatibility with Linux. We’ve been working on the Java platform for a considerable time and we’ve got to the point where we’re considering ‘how do we grow the market’, he said.
The most important thing is that that the Java platform is not included in many GNU Linux distributions. Choosing the GPL, which is already used for Linux, avoids that issue, he explained. Java now becomes the development platform of choice for enterprise GNU Linux users.