Saturday, November 18, 2006

Reaction to Sun's open source release of Java

It's been inevitable for quite a while now, and this week Sun finally officially announced the open-source plan for Java. Let me take this opportunity to log my personal reaction to this "long time coming" news:

As far as I saw, the only people who complained about Java not being "open" were the frothing-at-the-mouth FOSS zealots (OK, I'm going to get some flames for that word choice - but I have a soft spot for the overly-dramatic, so it will stay).
Let's be honest: the critical parts of Java, the libraries and reference implementations and compatibility test kits, have been source-available from the beginning. I just don't see a lot of people caring that the JVM and compiler are open now.
Actually, now that I think about it, I take back the yawn. I am very interested, because I'm now concerned that Sun does not have enough influence any more to keep Java from fracturing. We have to hope that the community can restrain itself to keep that from happening - but I would not bet on that. Maybe some other big players like IBM will be able to police the renegades who want this or that little thing and, when they can't convince the rest of the community, go off and create MyJava.
The last thing Java needs right now is to become the next Linux, where binaries aren't compatible and users of one distro can barely find standard file locations on other distros.