Monday, November 13, 2006

Java Goes GPL

The rumors were spinning last week, but today Sun made it official. The steward of Java is open sourcing Java SE, Java ME and Java EE under the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2), the same license as GNU/Linux.

You can read a clear explanation here of some of the details from James Gosling himself. He explains precisely which elements fall under GPLv2 and why/where the Classpath exception applies.

Today's eWeek coverage gives you a feeling for what went on behind the scenes:

The transition was tedious and legalistic, said Sun General Counsel Mike Dillon. "Java Standard Edition contains about 6 million lines of code," Dillon said. "Our legal team [of 190 lawyers] had to go over it, line by line, and look for all copyright marks and third-party involvements. Where Sun didn't have the correct licenses, we had to contact the owners, one by one, and determine the rights." In some cases, Sun had to settle with copyright owners.

Dillon said the company considered some of the 200-plus open-source licenses but settled on the GPL because "it has the largest development community at this time driving innovation, and that is what Sun is striving for."

Meanwhile, for a deep dive on what this means for developers, visit RedMonk analyst/blogger (Should we coin blanalyst? analogger?) Michael Coté's post. Coté explains why the GPL will give Java a leg up in the Linux world better than I ever could:

While Sun has tried in the past to crack this nut, I'm not sure it's been as successful as it could now be with Java under the GPL. Getting into Linux as a "normal" piece of software is important for achieving tipping points of ubiquity. At the moment, Java can't be depended on to exist on any old Linux. With Linux Java [thanks to Barb Heffner for pointing the typo out] under the GPL, there's a hugely higher chance that it will be available on more Linux platforms if only more easily in apt-get and other package management systems.

(Michael - 'twas nothing.)

Duke Gets Open Sourced!

They saved the best for last. Duke -- the marshmallow-like Java mascot featured above -- has also been open sourced here. (Note that JAG - James Gosling - owns this project.)

What does "Open Source Duke" mean? It means all you Duke fans have the original mascot for Java technology to play with. With your creative designs, you can give Duke a personal touch. See how Duke fares trying new pastimes such as hiking, base-jumping, skiing, Sudoku, or scuba-diving - or get Duke nationalized by adding your favorite flag.

All we ask is that you treat Duke with the same respect that Sun has.

Could anyone treat Duke with anything less?

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