A friend pointed me to this article: Sun Promises to Open Source Java.
If Sun does make Java open source, it is good news for people who prefer to run Free operating systems. It’s one less technology that they have to do without. Existing open source solutions are always behind the one provided by Sun.
Now the choice for Free software developers is “Do I switch to Java or do I continue to use the language I have been using?”
It is interesting that Sun’s main concern is fragmentation of the codebase. When you give people the right to redistribute the source, it is bound to happen; however, the worst-case scenario nightmare that opponents of Free software think of is not typical. There aren’t exactly hundreds of forks of the Linux kernel, for example. Everyone basically works off of the main branch of development. If someone wants to take Linux in a different direction, they are free to do so. Of course, if everyone is sticking with Linus’ original project, then the fork won’t exactly be a problem in terms of “fragmentation”. And with Free software, forks are free to merge back into the original project anyway. Contrast the situation with software under the BSD license, which would allow someone to fork a project without giving anything back.