Do you really care if Java is open source or not?

The Java open source debate has been raging for several years. Open
source enthusiasts and evangelists have been quite vocal about their
disappointment with Java still not being open source. While Sun has for
years been talking about how Java is open for all practical purposes.

At JavaOne 2006 Jonathan Schwartz famously said that “It’s not a question of whether we’ll open source Java, the question is how“. This was interpreted as a promise to open source Java. James Gosling however has never been very positive on open source businesses. Simon Phipps, the company’s chief open-source officer was also recently reported on Builder UK
saying “I’m not sure it changes very much of your life. This has been a
perspective I’ve had on open-source Java SE for some time: There are
precious few people who really care,” Phipps said. “I actually don’t
think most Java developers will be in any way affected by what’s going
on here in the short term.”

So where is this debate going and
for how long will it last? While the leading voices in Java keep
talking about GPL, LGPL, and 10s of otherlicenses, nothing seems to be really changing. The only major change has been the Apache Harmony project
and its attempt at creating an open source Java SE implementation. As
of July 2006, Harmony developers have completed more that 78% of Java 5
API and have more that 1.2 Million Lines of Code to show.

Sun has also recently launched an official open source Java portal http://community.java.net/jdk/opensource/
where you can get info on Sun’s official stand on open source Java as
well as links to relevant news and articles. If there’s a need for a
portal dedicated to the Java open source debate, one can safely presume
that the debate has been going on for too long and isn’t likely to end
in the near future.

Where do Java developers stand on this
issue? Not only on whether Java should be open source but also about how
this debate has be amicably and quickly concluded.

Particularly the millions of developers from countries like India,
Brazil, China and Russia who use the language every day but don’t play
much part in deciding the future of the language. Do you really care if
Java is open source or not? Is this an unnecessary debate that a handful of people from a handful of countries have become obsessed with? Add your comments below.

Related
ApacheCon Day 1 and 2 – Open Source, Apache and enthusiasm
Open-Source keeps me ‘coding fit’
Open Source for Tomorrow Program
Let Java retire from the spotlight of web applications in dignity

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  • GUEST

    thank you

  • James Selvakumar

    You can give away applications as free and open source. But not a programming language.
    Yes, Firefox can be open source, solaris can be open source.
    But as a programming language, Java should not be open sourced.
    Sun has done a wonderful job so far in Java.
    It should lead the way.

    What real benefit will anyone get by open sourcing java now?

  • ‘Guest’

    ‘ The first guy who doesn’t like the direction given by the main developpers will fork and in 5 years, it will be as the linux world: a whole mess’

    I agree

    Like Linux with 100s of flavors has diluted the core Linux brand, something similar might happen to Java

  • ‘Guest’

    The first guy who doesn’t like the direction given by the main developpers will fork and in 5 years, it will be as the linux world: a whole mess. I like Linux a lot but hundreds of distributions just because Human Being prefers to have his own little gem somewhere… it’s enough.

  • ‘Guest’

    People forget that Open Source is just another way to sell a product.

  • ‘Guest’

    Open source Java means that I’m in control of everything from iron to the application. I can deploy a thousand servers as easily as one, and not worry about software licenses. I can create a commodity appliance of the whole Xen, CentOS 5, Open Source Java, and GlassFish virtual platform and train everyone in its use just as easily as creating a OpenSolaris, Zones, Open Source Java and GlassFish platform. It’s not about what I can change, it’s what I can combine.

  • ‘Guest’

    I would rather have Sun owning and pushing Java than Java being another very open langauge that nobody uses

  • ‘Guest’

    Sun owns Java and can technically do whatever it likes. So what’s the use of discussing whether Java should be open source or not. If you don’t wish to use a proprietary technology, switch to Python or maybe PHP