February 28, 2004

Sun meeting with IBM, but not talking open source Java -- yet

Author: Chris Preimesberger

As we reported Thursday, Sun Microsystems is indeed meeting privately with IBM to discuss working together on an open source implementation of Java, but the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company won't be talking about it publicly anytime soon, a Sun spokeswoman told NewsForge Friday.

"We might not have anything to say (publicly) this week, or even next month," the spokeswoman said.

The simple fact that Sun is even considering putting Java into the open source realm is news in that the company has always been fiercely protective of its enterprise software franchise. Java, an open standards programming language with a large and mostly loyal development community, is nonetheless a closely guarded proprietary technology created by Sun fellow Dr. James Gosling and his group in the early '90s.

Chief Engineer Rob Gingell and other Sun executives were to meet with their Big Blue counterparts at an undisclosed time and location. In an email message to Gingell Wednesday night, IBM evangelist Rod Smith challenged Sun to help create an independent group to develop an open source implementation of Java -- something both the Java and open source
development communities have been requesting for years.

Smith -- who used to work for Sun -- cited a recent eWeek article in which Sun evangelist Simon

Phipps -- who used to work for IBM -- asked: "Why hasn't IBM given its implementation of Java to the open-source


"Simon's comment appears to be an offer to jointly work toward this common goal," Smith wrote in the email

message. "IBM is a strong supporter of the open-source community, and we believe that a first-class open source

Java implementation would further enhance Java's position in the industry by spurring growth of new applications and

encouraging new innovation in the Java platform."

IBM and other companies -- not to mention many enterprise developers who work in the open source community --

have been asking Sun for years to open up Java, mainly for the reason cited above: encouraging innovation.

Creating an open source Java would almost certainly speed up the adoption of Java-based Web services and

service-oriented architecture.


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