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Sun's Historic Java Announcement
Monday, November 13 2006 @ 11:43 AM EST

This is an historic day. Let's share it together. You can watch a live webcast of the announcement by going here at 9:30 PST and clicking on the link that says Live Webcast, More. Here's the direct link where you will also find a statement that begins like this:
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.

You'll find a link on that page to GlassFish source code, which is also going GPL. And here's what the community is saying about this wonderful announcement about Sun choosing to release Java under the GPL.

They are aware of the limited choices for viewing the webcast, RealPlayer and FlashPlayer. They say they "hope to offer open content media format alternatives in the future." That would be great.

Update: I'm watching as I write: a video of Richard Stallman commending Sun, saying they are showing leadership by choosing the GPL, and that he hopes others will follow their lead. At this point, as he points out, Sun is now the leader in donating software code to the community. Truly, the world seems to be turning upside down.

They showed the code on a video screen being released under the GPL, with the GPL license shown at the end. Very cool. GlassFish is dual licensed, CDDL or GPL, as you please. All I can think about as I'm watching everything is: this is fantastic for the desktop.

Now there are various folks explaining how important this is, such as Paul Cormier at Red Hat and Eben Moglen, who points out that Sun is opening hardware specs too. Now they announce the open sourcing of Duke, the mascot, under the BSD, so he's modifiable too.

Now it's Q&A. Jonathan Schwartz is saying that Eben and Richard Stallman were stunned when Sun called them. I'm stunned too. And thrilled. Why did they choose GPL? Because developers love it and understand it and are comfortable with it. So you guys, in that sense, made it happen. They will consider GPLv3 when it's done, by the way, so pundits saying it's GPLv2 only are apparently wrong on that detail.

They are pointing out now that there is no patent risk. They are an IP creator, not just a redistributor, so there is no royalty required to be paid to anybody. By donating code to the GPL, the patent freedom goes with it. Well done, Sun! Well done!

Simon Phipps asks a question from David Berlind, who asks why Sun didn't just donate to the Harmony project under the Apache license. Schwartz says it's a curious thing if IBM is opposing the GPL. Amen.

So, what about Solaris? It's been CDDL. Might that change? Will it go GPL? They are taking a very close look at that right now, and the hint is very likely yes, it could happen.

Bottom line: it's a new day at Sun Microsystems, and it's a new day for the GPL. A truly great day, indeed.

: )

Update 2: A word from Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz from his blog:

And in closing, I want to put one nagging item to rest.

By admitting that one of the strongest motivations to select the GPL was the announcement made last week by Novell and Microsoft, suggesting that free and open source software wasn't safe unless a royalty was being paid. As an executive from one of those companies said, "free has to have a price."

That's nonsense.

Free software can be free of royalties, and free of impediments to broadscale, global adoption and deployment. Witness what we've done with Solaris, and now, what we've done with Java. Developers are free to pick up the code, and create derivatives. Without royalty or obligation.

Those that say open source software can't be safe for customers - or that commercially indemnified software can't foster community - are merely advancing their own agenda. Without any basis in fact.

They're also fighting a rising tide.

For those who didn't watch, but want to know what it was like, here's the best coverage that I can find, by China Martens on ComputerWorld, because it captures not only the facts but the flavor of the event. And Schwartz explains his thinking here.

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