Open Source Java

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.

3 comments to Open Source Java

  • Sun’s worried about fragmentation of the code base, when every new version they come out with tends to BREAK software developed on a previous version???

    My personal opinion is that Python has proven just what an awesome job the O.S. community can do with a language. Hopefully by open-sourcing it, some of the distribution and cross-platform development (write once, run anywhere my eye!!!) woes will be solved.

  • I must agree with Jay when he exclaims, “write once, run anywhere my eye!!!”

    I admit ignorance of the topic when I ask this: how would open-sourcing Java change how people decide which language to use when they work on a project? I don’t think I will switch to Java over C++ for my C++ projects because of a change like this. C++ and SDL are nearly as good as Java for cross-platform code. The open-sourcedness of the languages doesn’t really register in my brain. Should it??

  • Neil: It matters to people who want a completely Free-as-in-speech operating system. Most people don’t think about it, but a large number do. It’s why a lot of Free software isn’t written in Java but C/C++/Python/Perl.

    Right now, Free software advocates have no choice but to use something other than Java. When Sun finally figures out how to license it under a Free license, there is a new option available.

    But obviously if you’ve trained to use C++ for a long time, you’ll still be a better C++ programmer than you would be a Java programmer. I imagine that there won’t be a mass migration, but there might be a slow and steady movement towards using Java.

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