Sun finally announced that they are releasing Java under the GPL! That’s right, the language you love to hate is FREE, and not just free as in beer, but free as in Freedom. The Free/Libre Open Source Software community has been pushing this for years now, about a year ago we started getting signs that it might happen, and a few weeks ago it finally did. This is a very good thing for a many reasons. Not only is Sun contributing a massive amount of code to the FLOSS community, which helps everyone, but it is a major testament to the power and value of FLOSS. It also means that GNU/Linux distributions can directly distribute Sun’s Java. And most importantly, developers from around the world will be able to contribute to, and improve, the Java environment.
To check out the new OpenJDK project, check out this.
SAN FRANCISCO — Sun Microsystems Inc. at its JavaOne conference today announced that it would open-source Java but added that before it does so, company officials have to be certain the move won’t lead to diverging paths in the code.
read more | digg story
There has been a lot of talk lately about the future of Sun Microsystems. My question is, if Sun were to fall off the face of the earth, then what would happen to Java? From my view there are three paths for Java if this were to happen: Java dies with Sun, Java is sold to some company to suffer the wrath or success of this company, or the Open Source community welcomes it with open arms, with the help of Sun, and breathes life into the language.
The first is probably the least likely. It is doubtful that Sun would simply abandon Java unless it held no weight in the programming community, which is not likely considering how accustomed so many developers are to the language.
The second I think would be the most likely considering the state of business in the world today. My guess is Sun will get the best price it can get for the language in hopes of bleeding as much money as possible from its assets. I’m not sure if this would be a last ditch effort to breath life back into the company, for it to take another path, or they would use the money to pay off debts or split it up among employees/shareholders.
Now this brings on another question, who in their right mind would purchase the rights to the Java language? Microsoft certainly would not, considering they already have a Java replacement, C#. Possibly IBM, or a startup with the right backing and ideas to revive the language. Would you if you had the money? It would be an interesting acquisition for a billionaire.
Last but not least, the Open Source solution. This I think will be the most beneficial to the language. There is actually already a compiler/runtime/classpath in the works as part of the GCC project called gcj. So there is the possibility that the Open Source community will beat Sun to the punch and provide its own implementation of the language.
But if you were to ask me, I would suggest to Sun Microsystems that they even beat the Open Source community to the punch and open the source to Java. This I think would be a major step forward for Sun, and could help secure their position in the market, possibly avoiding this whole mess.