back to article Five years of open-source Java: Freedom isn't (quite) free

Open source Java has a long and torrid history, rife with corporate rivalry, very public fallings-out, and ideological misgivings. But has all the effort and rumpus that went into creating an officially sanctioned open JDK been worth it? Java co-creator James Gosling certainly thinks so - although he didn't seem entirely open …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Kebabbert

    Not correct

    "...It was 13 November 2006 when Sun Microsystems bowed to sustained and long-running pressure and finally open-sourced Java under a license everybody could agree on.... "

    Sun did not bow to pressure.

    Sun wanted to standardize Java for a long time, but got hindered by MS. MS motivation was that it unhealthy for a single company to exert too much control over a standard. Recently, MS do exert that much control over the OOXML standard. When Sun does it, it is bad. When MS does it, it is good?

    Here is a discussion of Sun trying to standardize Java from 1997

    I did a quick google and could not find the article discussing MS hindering Sun to standardize Java long time ago, but if someone requests it, I can sit down and google and find the article again and post it here. But fact is that MS hindered Sun's Java standard attempts. Sun did not bow to pressure, MS hindered it.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Is this like Obama being "hindered" in doing the Right Thing for once?

      How could Microsoft "hinder" Sun in taking a decision that is up to Sun to take? Does Sun need the imprimatur of ISO to say "here are the docs, here is the TCK, here are the patents, go ahead, go crazy"? No.

      We know that Sun ran interference from day 1 (Anyone remember Visual J++ with "enhanced" functionality bound to Windows). Doesn't mean one has to construct some weird rationalization for schizoid Sun behaviour.

      1. Kebabbert

        @Destroy All Monsters

        Well, I have googled this link again for you. Here is how MS stopped Sun from ISO standardizing Java 1997. Later Sun tried to standardize Java again in 1999.

        Fact is that MS tried to "hi-jack Java" as they say in the article, by extending Java to make it incompatible. This is a well known story, but maybe you missed this too? Do you want me to post links regarding this?


        Fact is, Sun did not bow. Sun wanted to standardize Java since 1997.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Thanks a ton, but no I did not "miss that too" as you can easily check by reading what I said.

          Those articles from before the Forever War are pretty zany, are they not though? Wild eyed speculation and hype and everything. Well, Java is still not an ISO standard (and luckily too, good grief, we would still be at Java 1.1, thanks but no thanks), and it didn't hinder or help any.

          Mr. Mitchell claims,"It levels the playing field. No one operating system has a lock-in if Java becomes the worldwide standard. That means that when someone builds a Java application it will run on a Mac, Windows, IBM AS400...."

          Yes, if there is a JVM for it....

  2. ratfox

    Java is free and you can use it as you want

    But if you are successful with it, expect a call from our lawyers.

  3. Steve Loughran

    Java strength

    Yes, the JVM is popular, but it's not clear that the Java roadmap advocated by oracle is the future.

    -the whole TCK debacle has shown up the Java Community Progress to be as democractic as the Peoples Congress of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Follow the leader or you are in trouble.

    -The sluggishness of the Java7 project has given other languages: Scala, Clojure, JRuby and Groovy an advantage. These languages are better than Java7, work on Java6, and are developed in an open source process. To follow Java7 is to hand control back to Oracle.

    Some of the really interesting stuff in Java -the Hadoop stack in particular- isn't being done with any participation from Oracle, let alone under the auspices of the JCP. There's no reason for the ASF to follow the Oracle strategies there.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      >work on Java6

      That should be "work on the JVM", which is as described in

      Java the language is indeed not the most interesting part here.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Open Joke Process

    Oracle/SUN have made it very clear they own Java and that they reserve the right to make any Java user pay for that privilege.

    I am now using C# and feel that I am not more shackled than with Java, plus the IDE is much better/nicer than Eclipse.

    Can Oracle just drop that "Open" claptrap ?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I don't see the change...

    Personally I think that opening up Java isn't that bad. But opening it up under direct pressure from the open source community was not a smart move in my opinion. Especially because the used arguments at that time were totally bollocks. Java /was/ "open source" in its own way. Sure; its model didn't meet any of the requirements in all of the acknowledged open source licenses, but in the end the source code /was/ available for everyone to use and play with.

    The major restrictions however were that you couldn't use it to start a 'Java (-like)' environment of your own with the idea to try and commercially exploit it. After all; it was still Sun's brainchild so to speak. And well, threats of several distributions to remove Java all together as long as it wouldn't become open sourced was IMO outrageous and totally uncalled for. Unfair considering how much other non-free software resided inside the software repositories.

    But most of all; what exactly has changed? IMO nothing when looking at the Linux environments. Most distributions still push gcj forwards and sometimes openjdk while these two are in fact still incompatible with the official JDK. I use Java quite heavily, even to support my servers, and openjdk doesn't cut it. The moment I start using MBeans I get weird results (never bothered to test any further, I simply slapped the official JDK onto the box and things started working again).

    The way I see it is that we now have an open sourced Java (haleluja) but no more Sun company to back it up. Instead we got Oracle now. And the majority of Java developers I know all still resort to the official JDK because, as mentioned above, "it simply works".

    I'd happily see open sourced Java disappear if it could get Sun back on the road.

    1. Kebabbert


      "...But opening [Java] up under direct pressure from the open source community was not a smart move in my opinion...."

      again, Sun did not bow to the community demands. Sun tried to open source Java in 1997, and again 1999. Just read the link I provided in the top here.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


        Submitting a standard application to ISO is not to "open source" it.

        It means submitting either the language specification or the JVM specification (not sure which) to the standards body to get it bound in official ISO drapery.

        If they wanted to "open source" anything at any point in time, they could have just done it.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not free

    Some parts are still not open-source, like the browser plugin (at least it wasn't last time I looked). Redhat wrote a replacement, but that's not the same.

  7. Ru

    "much-needed shot of insulin"

    A platform that had been all but catatonic might be better served by something a little more stimulating, or at least energy-rich. Aseffectively as Oracle have played the bad guy here, they're evidently not trying to ensure Java will die in its sleep.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like