Java becoming free software: are we nearly there? (UPDATE: we are!)

Short URL:


Days ago I read this announcement about Sun moving Java's license to free software, and in particular that some parts of it will be released under the GPL early this morning (GMT+1) early this morning (GMT+1)

Today on they are announcing a webcast today at 9.30 Pacific Time

Are we nearly there?


we are:

13.November.2006—Sun believes deeply in creating communities and sharing innovations and technologies to foster more participation. Today in a historic move, Sun is opening the door to greater innovation by open sourcing key Java implementations—Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE), Java Platform Micro Edition (Java ME), and Java Platform Enterprise Edition (Java EE)—under the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2), the same license as GNU/Linux. now


thlinux's picture
Submitted by thlinux on

Being able to create cross-platform applications without the hindrance of proprietary software is the key to making open-source software and the Linux desktop a major player.

Terry Hancock's picture

I'm not sure this really constitutes “leading". Python, Perl, and Ruby all enable cross-platform application development. Python at least has been around since the early 1990s and has been available under a completely "free" license since 2000 at the latest (the earlier license would probably be regarded as free by most people, but was GPL incompatible).

Still, it is nice to see Sun following the lead of others after only ten or so years of lag time. ;-)

Quite a few people seem to like Java, and there's a lot of free software written for it which had to previously be regarded as "contrib" since it brought in the non-free JRE as a requirement. It'll be interesting to see what packages will be affected.

For one thing, it'll resolve Debian's long-standing Java policy crisis.

Scott Carpenter's picture

Another article:

Lots of interesting stuff. I liked this:

Sun played a video of Stallman not just saying that "the Java trap won't exist anymore" (as it applies to Java), he gave a stunning endorsement of Sun's behavior and contribution (as the largest contribution of its kind to the free software community). It was a complete 180 degree turn in disposition for the leader of the free software world.

I read something about how RMS's arrogance may have contributed to the MS/Novell deal:

For OSS, as we mentioned last week and the week before, the Oracle move against Red Hat and the Microsoft-Novell deal might not have occurred had it not been for the incredibly arrogant way Richard Stallman was treating the companies that supported Linux.

And I wonder if people like the author of that piece will look at this news as a demonstration of what happens when you remain consistent in your beliefs and values. And patient. Maybe it's not arrogance, but instead is commitment to a plan that is working.

This is very welcome news, and I'm happy that Sun chose the GPL over the Apache license.


Terry Hancock's picture

Huh, I followed your link, but that really is all the guy said about it. He didn't support this claim at all, and I frankly don't see how anything Stallman has said could be interpreted as driving either the Oracle/Red Hat or Novell/Microsoft events.

Both seem to be fairly clearcut cases of companies seeking to take advantage at the expense of other companies.

EDIT: Oh wait, that was Rob Enderle? No wonder.

Scott Carpenter's picture

I agree -- I was kind of nonplussed by the charge. I'm not familiar with Enderle's work, but my buzzword radar beeped when I saw in that same blurb, "At the end of the day..." Scanning over the whole entry, it looks like lofty pronouncements are favored. :-)


Terry Hancock's picture

Enderle is a sufficiently well-known anti-free software hatchetman (by his own admission, even), that he has his own wikipedia entry.

Some of his writing is incredibly gonzo. The example you pointed to is an extremely mild case. He's quite a character.

Giordano Cevallos's picture

To seem this is a god news for free software launchers, I hope that it ´s a true .
In bioinformatics some applications are running in Java and this fact let a great jump to continue development in this area, another programs running in Python and Perl (free too).
I believe that the business in this moment will be Solaris and to let free Java is a marketing strategy for maintain the collaborators in the free source community, but, if Java is really free , Sun and free source programmers are happy and my too and the java trap disapear in the infinite ( I hope).
Congratulations if the trait take a god final.
I believe that I continue my learning about programming in Java with more enthusiasm now .
Best regards .


Author information

Marco Marongiu's picture


Born in 1971, Marongiu graduated in applied mathematics in 1997; he's now a full-time system administrator for a well known software company in Oslo, Norway. He's also a Perl programmer and technical author and lecturer by passion.
Marongiu has been a Debian User since version 1.1.10 and he helped found the GULCh Linux Users Group (Gruppo Utenti Linux Cagliari), the first one in Sardinia.