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.