Monday, November 13, 2006

Java released under the General Public License (GPL)

In a development that could shake up the software industry, Sun is releasing the Java programming language under the General Public License (GPL).

Both Java Platform Micro Edition (Java ME), which is used on mobile devices, and Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE) software, used for desktop applications, are being released immediately under GPLv2. The Java class libraries will be released over the next six months.
Rumours that Sun was poised to make Java open source emerged last week, but there may still be surprise over its choice of licence. Sun's own Community Development and Distribution License (CDDL) was another option.

Sun's server-side Java Platform Enterprise Edition software is already open sourced under the CDDL, through the GlassFish project. This enterprise edition will now also be available under GPLv2.

Sun is also hoping that Linux distributions such as Debian and Fedora will now include Java. At present they don't, because it has not been freely available.

Releasing Java as open source under the GPL might increase the sale of commercial licenses to Java that Sun sells. This can happen because the GPL requires "giving back," companies who might have bypassed the commercial licensing requirements before will be less likely to now.

Consequently they'll buy supported Java from Sun rather than risk of having their IP compromised with the GPL requirements. Another interesting thing is, Java wasn't open sourced. Rather the code was. What that means is Sun still owns the copyright and trademark rights to the name Java and thus can control what can be called Java and what can't. For now, they're keeping the same tight restrictions on the Java trademark.

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