Sun Microsystems Inc. said this week that it will provide an open source Java under an OSI-approved license.
Rich Green, the executive vice president of software at Sun, said he thinks open sourcing Java will benefit Sun but added that the move will likely meet some resistance. In an interview at LinuxWorld in San Francisco, Green told SearchOpenSource.com what an open source Java will mean for corporate users.
SearchOpenSource.com: What advantages will having Java available in Linux distributions -- especially via the GNU/Linux and OpenSolaris operating system -- bring to corporate IT shops?
Rich Green: Linux has been the most popular platform -- the fastest-growing platform for Java in the world. Certainly, co-distribution of the Java platform with Linux distros will make Java available to more developers. There will be a sort of natural melding of the Linux platform and the Java platform. It will be a very simple developer model to build apps for broad distribution on Linux distros.
I think it will only enhance the adoption of Java and the creation of more innovative applications.
How will an OSI-approved license spark innovation in enterprise environments?
Green: There are a variety of projects out there -- Apache, Mozilla, Linux itself -- that all have adopted a variant form of the standard OSI license. There are pros and cons of each, but -- using those three as examples -- I don't think anybody would say their success has been inhibited in any way by the license.
By restricting our perspective to an OSI space, we think it will do nothing but enhance the access and availability of the technology.
There are plenty of open source development platforms. Why would developers, especially corporate developers, want to use Java?
Green: There are a number of advantages. Increasingly, IT settings are creating requirements saying future development work will only be on open source platforms. So for those existing [organizations] and the growing number of organizations with that requirement, Java is made available in ways that they precluded themselves before.
I think it is also helpful in revealing more of the capabilities of the platform and enabling enhancements or innovation or optimizations that may be appropriate for the applications being built there.
What advantages does it offer to in-house developers in corporations.
Green: Many companies require it -- but also, developers are increasingly more comfortable and accepting of a free and open license and an open source-available world. The interesting point here is that Java has been done in an open source form for the last year now. People have full access to the software now. This is only a small issue of the license because people have full visibility and advantage to the technology today.
What limitations might open source Java encounter?
Green: Realistically, there aren't any technical limitations today. Between the tools, the NetBeans platform, the access to the technology, the developer forums, the tech days we run worldwide, the general knowledge in publications as well as access to open source of the Peabody release [which is the next release of Java].
There isn't much but there is this organizational and psychological barrier that will be overcome by providing full, licensed access to the technology. In some areas, it's a small issue, and in other areas it's viewed as a big issue, and we want to make sure that there are no barriers and hurdles to using the technology.