Red Hat Inc vice president for open source affairs Michael Tiemann has come-out in favor of open sourcing Java to cultivate innovation and help defend against Microsoft Corp’s .NET.
Tiemann called the idea of open source Java fantastic saying Sun Microsystems Inc should release the code to back up claims by company president Jonathan Schwartz that Sun loves the open source community.
We are asking those who claim to be our friends and part of the community, to act like they are part of that community, Tiemann told ComputerWire.
Tiemann was speaking having earlier used his blog to criticize Sun following comments made by Schwartz online, in which Schwartz said Sun would protect the open source community, that innovation and our place in it, with all our heart and energy.
The question of when and how to open source Java has been an issue since the beginning of 2004, when open source evangelist Eric Raymond published an open letter to Sun’s chief executive Scott McNealy asking him to release Java to the community.
Raymond’s letter was quickly picked upon by IBM Corp, whose vice president of emerging technologies Rod Smith followed-up with his own open letter to Sun.
Sun has held talks with IBM and Raymond over opening Java, while Schwartz, himself, has expressed his openness to the idea of releasing Java as long as an industry body remained in control of compatibility testing to preventing forking. The issue, though, has gone off the boil until now.
Tiemann said open sourcing Java would lead to a greater pace of innovation than is occurring in Java today and relieve Sun of the burden of maintaining Java against .NET. You have the question of whether .NET will take over the world [with] Sun trying to hold the line, Tiemann said.
He also dismissed concern over forking. That thinking is so last millennium. When Microsoft didn’t get what they wanted with Java they created .NET. How far has OpenOffice [the open source desktop productivity suite] fragmented – not at all.
One of the issues that has generated concern around releasing Java, is the potential for IBM to control the language. Java has been the subject of a battle of wills between IBM and Sun over the years. Tiemann, though, called the fact Sun and IBM were battling for control of Java emblematic of the need to open source Java.