Java going Open Source is old news at this stage but it’s taken me a while to digest. Ideologically I think it is a great move, I’ve always been a little annoyed that Java was not GPL or similar. So it’s good for me as an Open Source fan, but is it also good for me as a Java Programmer? That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out for the last few days and in the end, I think it is.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Firstly, deploying Java services on Linux has always been a bit messy because you didn’t get the sun JVM out of the box. Sure, you got GCJ or some other clone but those never quite worked right for me. I always ended up having to manually install the Sun JVM, manually change the simlinks in /usr/bin, and manually set the JAVA_HOME environment variable. Sure, this works but it’s messy and it generally means Java is not being managed by what ever package manager your distro of choice uses. Depending on the distro there were one or two reasons that Sun’s Java was not bundled, firstly there were licensing problems, and secondly there were often ideological problems because Java was not GPL. Now there is no theoretical reason why Linux distributions can’t bundle the Sun JVM. Even if your distro of choice decides not to start bundling Sun’s Java you’ll still win because you can rest assured that products like GCJ will be benefit immensely from access to Sun’s source!

Finally, this is likely to encourage more open source Java development because the more idealistic open source guys who steered clear of Java on principle can now feel comfortable using Java. In particular this shifts the sand significantly in the .net/Mono v Java/J2EE debate. Java will now be more seriously considered by more Open Source developers.

In the end I think this will result in better Java support on Linux, more open source Java projects, and it makes me feel a whole lot better about being a Java developer, so good news all round!


3 Responses to “Java Goes Open Source – So What?”

  1. Des Traynor on November 18th, 2006 6:26 pm

    Good post Bart (in fact last night we were all agreeing that your blog is generally very good).

    I was pondering over what benefits I’d get from a GPLed Java but you’ve outlined them nicely. The idea of apt-getting Java is cool.

    Something that I am wondering is will the OSS adopt Java and forget about all the previous animosity. Also will Sun accept patches. Will Desktop Java code become the norm? Does this mean I can finally write stuff for Gnome that might be of use to people? Will Free Software projects learn from their mistakes with GTK/KDE libs, and provide good solid developer docs?

    Time will tell I guess.

  2. Aidan Delaney on November 20th, 2006 10:37 am

    FOSS Java is good. Well FOSS-anything is good in my book :) But Java represents a huge contribute to user and developer freedom. I think FOSS Java will also mean that us ivory tower inhabitants can concentrate on improving Java in our own special way. I think the FOSS community (GTK and QT guys) will be able to help Sun get their GTK/QT backends for Java 1.6 up to the same standard as the Eclipse RCP.

    It’s also a huge boost to the Mono guys. A lot of their cool tech has been ported from Java (eg: lucene).

    But now in FOSS web-development world we have
    * Ruby on rails
    * Python Django
    * Mono/ASP.Net
    * LAMP
    * and now Java Struts.
    I wonder how long it will take .Net developers to demand an OSS .Net? Sun didn’t make Java OSS to please RMS, they did it because their developer community demanded it.

  3. Dave Cahill on November 20th, 2006 10:55 pm

    Yep, hopefully this will settle things down for Java a bit, and enable/persuade folks to support it properly in Linux distros and package systems.

    Re open source .NET, Google for “shared source CLI”.

Leave a Reply

Before you post a comment please remember that commenting on my blog is a privilege not a right. I won't approve comments that are obscene, offensive or insulting. For more info please read this post.

Subscribe without commenting