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IBM Offers to Help Sun Open Up Java 475

Posted by michael
from the with-friends-like-these dept.
dave writes "ESR has opened the issue of pressuring Sun to open source Java, and today IBM throws in their own commitment toward this end. IBM has published an open letter to Sun, proposing that the two companies collaborate on an independent project to open source Java, saying that IBM is ready to provide technical resources and code for the open source Java implementation while Sun provides the open source community with Sun materials, including Java specifications, tests and code."
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IBM Offers to Help Sun Open Up Java

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  • How nice of IBM.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:36AM (#8398130) Homepage Journal

    Just playing Devil's Advocate here: IBM sounds touchy-feely about open source but how would they react if Sun were to offer to help IBM open up AIX?
    • Re:How nice of IBM.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by psykocrime (61037) <mindcrime@nOsPAm.cpphacker.co.uk> on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:39AM (#8398177) Homepage Journal
      First thing... what are the chances of a true first post getting modded UP!?! What has happened to the slashdot we all knew and loved?

      Just playing Devil's Advocate here: IBM sounds touchy-feely about open source but how would they react if Sun were to offer to help IBM open up AIX?

      Second thing... bad example, since IBM has already released stuff from AIX as OSS (see the whole SCO vs. IBM debacle)... and they could never open-source the whole thing, because of licensing issues for the base SysV stuff it's built on.

      Unless IBM was to buy SCO... in which case, who knows, AIX might just get open-sourced. :-)
    • by 3 am Eternal (754358) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:39AM (#8398185) Homepage
      Well Java is not really an operating system and it does seem perfect for an open source project but I take your point. As long as IBM ask nicely and no one takes offence if Sun say no in a rather emphatic manner, it can't hurt.
    • by dnoyeb (547705) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:42AM (#8398232) Homepage Journal
      Without a doubt. I can't help but smile at the whole thing. I am sure Sun would rather die than allow IBM to 'help' them.

      Nevertheless, I just dont understand what opening Java is supposed to mean? ANSI-Java? I don't get it, anyone can make their own JVM and release it as a Java JVM long as it conforms to the JLS right!? IBM has already done this right?
      • Re:How nice of IBM.. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ekephart (256467) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:48AM (#8398304) Homepage
        "Without a doubt. I can't help but smile at the whole thing. I am sure Sun would rather die than allow IBM to 'help' them."

        I doubt shareholders feel this way... unless their goal is to be bought out.
      • Re:How nice of IBM.. (Score:4, Informative)

        by egomaniac (105476) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:05PM (#8398500) Homepage
        Nevertheless, I just dont understand what opening Java is supposed to mean? ANSI-Java? I don't get it, anyone can make their own JVM and release it as a Java JVM long as it conforms to the JLS right!? IBM has already done this right?

        The problem is the libraries. The VM is easy -- any monkey can write a VM. Have fun writing a completely compatible implementation of Swing. And that's just one of the many APIs that would need to be duplicated.

        Yes, IBM has their own VM. But they use Sun's class libraries just like everybody else does. Sun is the only game in town as far as the class library is concerned. What people are asking for is for the class libraries to be opened up.

        (Yes, there have been attempts to clone the Sun class library in open-source. However, they are all targeting support for really old versions of Java -- which is a lot like cloning Windows 3.11 today.)
        • Re:How nice of IBM.. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by sab39 (10510) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:28PM (#8398788) Homepage
          Not true - GNU Classpath is JDK1.4 compatible in many areas [kaffe.org], and pretty much complete at JDK1.2 level [kaffe.org] with the sole exception of CORBA (which has interesting license issues) and Swing, which is being actively worked on (there's a screenshot [redhat.com] of Classpath running a Swing demo that's limited to buttons and checkboxes, and it actually works!).

          Sure, cloning Swing and many of the other massive libraries in recent JDK versions is a mammoth undertaking and life would be a great deal easier for everyone if Sun would open up the reference implementation. But don't discount the work of the people who are already doing it - they're further along than you think!

          (BTW, the reason those URLs point to kaffe.org is just because my own domain for them expired; kaffe.org graciously agreed to host the files, but the results are independently generated and not biased in favor or against any of kaffe's "competitors". Having said that, Kaffe is another project that's made leaps and bounds recently. There are, in fact, multiple completely Free/Open Source implementations of Java now that can run many high-profile Java apps, including Eclipse and Tomcat)
        • Re:How nice of IBM.. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Coz (178857) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:38PM (#8398931) Homepage Journal
          Brav-o. Good summary. One little thing - if Sun open-sources their own code, it's not duplicating the API - it's releasing it. Now, if there's IP in that code that's locked up somewhere, or licensed somehow, that's a problem - one that IBM should be able to help solve, given their library of IP rights.

          If I were at Sun, one of my concerns would be which of their development projects to open, and when. "Java" isn't just Java 2 Standard Edition - the Enterprise Edition and Mobile/Wireless Edition have lives of their own; then there's (still) Jini and all their XML stuff. Sun is sinking cash into lots of different efforts, trying to establish Java in market niches (like mobile phones) and building in tool support, documentation, etc. Throwing the doors open and letting the world at their code base may not be the smartest thing at the moment (esp. if there's licensed IP in there somewhere that they need to go negotiate to open, or remove).

          I'd like to see them phase in open-source. Give 'em six months or so for the 3 major "platforms", including all the java.* and javax.* packages, then another six months for the com.sun.* packages - with an expectation that other players would start working on them immediately. After that, every new thing they do should be opened no later than beta... and the JCP should allow participants to collaborate on implementations at the source-code level, so JCP members could work in semi-privacy until the code got fully opened at their beta release.

          But that's just an idea....
        • Re:How nice of IBM.. (Score:5, Informative)

          by AstroByte (718093) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:49PM (#8399090) Homepage
          Come on then, Mr. Big Mouth. When YOU pick up the Virtual Machine spec and implement your own VM from scratch, THEN I'll believe you when you say any monkey can write a VM. In the meantime, talk about things you actually know something about.

          I HAVE written a VM from scratch, and worked on Sun and IBM's Virtual Machines. I can tell you from experience that writing a VM is definately not a trivial task. In fact, it is probably harder than the libraries. The libraries are by definition Java code. The major problem is the sheer size of them.

          A modern VM on the other-hand, covers a wide range of techniques. Writing an efficient thin-locking implementation is far from trivial - the code is extremely complex, and even a slight mistake can lead to race conditions, leading to unexpected behaviour which is very difficult to track down.

          Likewise, a modern garbage collector is an advanced field in itself (e.g. parallel collectors, generational collectors, etc.). Again, a simple mistake can take weeks to find.

          Have you also forgotten about the JIT? Or more accurately a DAC (dynamic adaptive compiler). Whereas a standard compiler can spend as long as it likes optimising the code and be slow as hell, a modern VM must profile the code on the fly, and transfer control between compiled and interpreted modes efficiently. Again, not trivial.

          Even following the spec is non-trivial. There's enough grey areas to cause a VM implementor to pull their hair out.

          Sun and IBM have large teams working on these VM's, many from research backgrounds and with PhDs (including me). Thanks for calling us all monkeys.

          • by egomaniac (105476) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @03:03PM (#8400943) Homepage
            Wow, please calm down and wipe the froth off of your mouth. Thanks.

            I said "any monkey can write a VM". I stand by my statement -- any reasonably competent code monkey could do it.

            You, however, seem to have interpreted my statement as "any monkey can write a VM that is every bit as fast and reliable as HotSpot, including a JIT and/or other dynamic compiler".

            I did not say that. There is a big difference between "a VM" and "a top-tier VM competitive with the best efforts of Sun and IBM". However, I still feel that it's way, way easier than trying to duplicate the entire frickin' class library.
            • by AstroByte (718093) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @03:29PM (#8401238) Homepage
              I admit by first post was a bit OTT -- it's been a long and hard day today (it's 20:15, and I'll be here a while yet). No, it isn't working on a VM :)

              I agree that there's a long way between a basic VM and a state-of-the-art one. However, you were making the point that the libraries were the stumbling block to a truly free Java implementation. My point was that it is the sheer size of the class library that's making this difficult, not the complexity of the code per se.

              While it may be possible to write a _very_ basic VM in a couple of months(*), it'll be just as unusable as a half completed swing implementation would be. We need both a complete class library and a state-of-the-art VM. One without the other is pointless.

              (*) Having said that, there's been a lot of feature creep in the VM to keep up with the ever expanding APIs. Support for Reflection is fairly non-trivial as is class-loaders. Neither of these are covered in the VM spec (class loaders obliquely in places). Nor is GC support for weak, phantom, etc. references. In fact, you don't need a GC to fulfill the spec. A toy VM will not only be slow, but very incomplete as well.

        • Bah, swing sucks anyway ;)
        • Re:How nice of IBM.. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:55PM (#8399163)
          You're almost right.

          Not "any monkey" can write a VM. They're non-trivial (just ask the Kaffe folks), and IBM has several irons in the fire. As well as licensing Sun's VM (and improving it vastly for their customers) they also have their own VM under development, entirely free of Sun IP.

          On the issue of class libraries, you're also nearly right. Swing would be hard work, and pointless. There's a reason that eclipse [eclipse.org] doesn't use Swing... IBM isn't interested in it - it sucks.

          IBM also has their own set of class libraries under development - entirely free of Sun IP.

          So, in my opinion, this is just a huge red herring. IBM has enough projects under heavy development to release a completely open-source VM and set of class libraries within 18 months if they want to.

          Personally, I think it's going to happen, and this is them tapping on Sun's window going "if you don't do it, we will, and we'll do it without using your IP".
      • IBM made a funny (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dmaxwell (43234) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @01:14PM (#8399490)
        Without a doubt. I can't help but smile at the whole thing. I am sure Sun would rather die than allow IBM to 'help' them.

        Maybe IBM is doing this as underhanded payback for Sun's "offer of assistance" moving IBM to the so-called Java Desktop a month or two back.

        As for OSS Java from what I understand, creating the VM is a well understood engineering problem. OSS VMs and compilers already exist. The problem is that a complete implementation of Java includes an immense number of classes that would have to be implemented for real application compatibility.
      • Re:How nice of IBM.. (Score:5, Informative)

        by ajagci (737734) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @03:25PM (#8401188)
        Nevertheless, I just dont understand what opening Java is supposed to mean?

        I think few people do.

        ANSI-Java?

        Yes, effectively. The only way any open source implementation of Java are above question would be if Sun actually drops their formal conformance requirements.

        Note that you can do with ANSI C whatever you like: you can implement or not implement whatever parts you like. Not so with Java under the current licenses.

        I don't get it, anyone can make their own JVM and release it as a Java JVM long as it conforms to the JLS right!?

        Any implementation that has enforceable "conformance" requirements placed on it cannot be an open source implementation. Enforceable conformance requirements are intrinsically incompatible with what people mean by "open source".

        IBM has already done this right?

        No. IBM's implementation is derived from Sun's implemetation. But even if it had been written from scratch, IBM could not actually release it under an open source license without technically violating their license from Sun (whether Sun would tolerate that is another question--they have tolerated many violations of their licenses already, but they have also enforced some).

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:42AM (#8398233)
      I'm not sure that this comparison is totally valid. IBM isn't marketing AIX as a counter-culture product that challenges the dominance of the 'evil monopolist' Microsoft.

      Sun is trying to have it both ways- claim their language will "free" them from the clutches of MS while trying to clutch the language specification/certification for its own.

    • by LibrePensador (668335) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:44AM (#8398250) Journal
      I am with you on this one. Sun opens up Java and IBM does the same with their Lotus suite?

      A gesture is met with a gesture and we all win.

      It will never happen.
    • Re:How nice of IBM.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by d00ber (707098) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:53AM (#8398372) Journal
      IBM put JFS the AIX journaling filesystem into Linux. They might well respond by saying yes. I do admit that given IBMs long history of tweaking SUN (Eclipse [eclipse.org] anyone?) that this offer by IBM might not be taken that well. OTOH Sun has never seemed that hell bent on monetizing Java - the licensing and conformance testing fees probably don't begin to cover development costs.

      They say are trying to build a community around Java and it seems to me that given those two points Sun really should release Java to the open source community.

      I think this really would give Java a HUGE boost over .NOT.

      Besides, JBoss and Linux distros make money on packaging and supporting Free but hugely complex systems.
    • by rve (4436)
      Sun were to offer to help IBM open up AIX?
      They can't do that, SCO might sue!
    • by jarich (733129) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @02:35PM (#8400560) Homepage Journal
      Are you serious??

      First, Sun doesn't sell Java. IBM isn't asking them to give up a revenue product.

      IBM contributes to Linux (kernel and otherwise), they contribute to (and ship) Apache. IBM contributes to open source all over the place!

      IBM has ~tons~ of open software http://alphaworks.ibm.com/ (not everything here is free, but check the place out!)

      IBM is a real friend to the open source community. Having Java in the public domain would (in their opinion) help everyone.

      If you want to put your anti-Redmond hat on, why should IBM and Sun and Blackdown and Gnu all have competing JVMs? Let open source pull in the best of breed and continue to improve the platform.

      .Net is one platform. Not quite so with Java. HP has a version. IBM. Blackdown. Gnu. etc

      Open sourcing Java would let people beyond Sun fix bugs. It would let projects (potentially) merge. I see tons of benefit.

      Sun gets more help with a product that they get no money for anyway... and they get tons of community relations points (which they need).

  • Doubtful... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JoeLinux (20366) <joelinux.gmail@com> on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:37AM (#8398152) Homepage
    Does anyone actually think this is actually gonna happen? Sun has always impressed me as a Microsoft wannabe. The only reason they are currently allying themselves with Linux is because "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

    'course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.
    • Re:Doubtful... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by egomaniac (105476) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:54AM (#8398379) Homepage
      Does anyone actually think this is actually gonna happen? Sun has always impressed me as a Microsoft wannabe. The only reason they are currently allying themselves with Linux is because "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

      Oh, bullshit.

      When Microsoft wants to include a new technology (such as their web browser), they integrate it in such a way that you are forced to use it, can't replace it with something else, and end up using it for unrelated functions whether you want to or not. And half the interface is undocumented and inaccessible to people outside of Microsoft.

      Sure, you can download and install your own web browser, but IE is always there, sucking up resources, no matter what you do.

      When Sun wants to integrate something new into Java, the JCP develops a standard API for accessing it. Sun develops or licenses their own implementation of it, but allows you to use any implementation you choose so long as it implements the standard. Other VM distributors are free to replace Sun's implementation with their own. In fact, it's remarkably easy to be completely unaware of which implementation you are using.

      If Microsoft had developed a standard web browsing API which allowed you to swap out IE in favor of Mozilla, and allowed computer manufacturers the right to do so on preinstalled machines if they chose, nobody would be complaining about the IE integration.

      Well, that's exactly how Sun would have chosen to do it, based on their track record. They make it remarkably easy to swap out portions of the runtime library with alternate implementations.
  • by Xeed (308294) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:37AM (#8398154) Journal
    A similar article can also be found at The Globe [globetechnology.com].

    With the Linux community behind it, open-sourcing Java is going to mean a big leap for software development. Although they are worried about open source meaning zero revenue, this isn't necessarily the case. [informationweek.com]
    • Linux + OS Java is not something a certain proprietary company would like to see. Really does present a dynamite combination the more I think about it.
    • Well, they already give you Java for free. If they make it open source, they might cut development costs, and also get much better attitude from community. I don't see any reason why not to go OS. They still could control it - no one will prevent them to add any new feature.
  • A Question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:38AM (#8398158) Homepage Journal
    At one point in time, IBM was the leader in all things computing, and would act as they saw fit.

    Now a days, they are for open standards, helping out other firms, investing in open source, etc etc etc.

    What changed, specifically? Mind you, I'm all for the change (it's very good in my opinion) and they seem to be doing the right things, but is this a response to Microsoft and its ways, or did the change come internally?
    • Re:A Question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pubjames (468013) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:41AM (#8398199)
      What changed, specifically?

      IBM are being very intelligent. They are moving with the market.

      It used to be that everyone in the IT world was closed and proprietary. OSS is changing that, and IBM know it. IBM are going with the flow, not fighting it.
      • Re:A Question (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Wudbaer (48473) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:49AM (#8398310) Homepage
        Also IBM has not too much to lose. Sure, they produce and sell a lot of software. But they are still one of the leading hardware companies and are moving more and more towards a consulting and service oriented business model. So what do they have to lose ? Some unsold AIX lincenses ? DB2, Domino and WebSphere can or will soon be able to run as well on a RS6K machine (or what they are called this week) running Linux than on a RS6K machine running AIX. Sure, AIX still has a lot to offer Linux does not, but for that they still will move a machine with AIX.
    • Re:A Question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by segmond (34052) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:47AM (#8398287)
      Now a days, they are for open standards? The same guys that opened up the PC architecture, right? in early 80's or wait, say 20 years ago? As far as I know, that is the biggest open standard look how it changed the world, look at the companies it built. Whenever people talk about how IBM acts as they see fit, it is usually history lessons that they read about the 60's and 70's...

      • Re:A Question (Score:5, Informative)

        by Usquebaugh (230216) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:57AM (#8398407)
        Hah,

        opened the architecture, thay had ISA ripped from them, I think Compaq cleaned room the BIOS which led to the clones. MCA, remember that. Token ring. SNA.

        IBM in the 80s was at it's most arrogant. They had beaten everybody including the DOJ. The salesmen were insufferable. Then M$ changed the landscape by beating IBM at their own game.

        Only in the last five years has IBM embraced Open Standards. Even now one of their hardware lines is still very closed, AS/400.
    • Re:A Question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PCM2 (4486) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:52AM (#8398346) Homepage
      One way IBM adapts to today's computing climate is by morphing into more of a service organization than merely a software vendor. So heterogeneous systems, multiple implementations based on open standards, and interoperability at the enterprise level all add up to more problems for IBM's professional services organization to fix, ergo more revenue.
    • Re:A Question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by HoldmyCauls (239328) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:55AM (#8398392) Journal
      I think it's humility. I remember reading on here an article about the CEO of IBM chastising Microsoft for, essentially, being too big for its britches, and specifically saying that they themselves had learned from their own similar mistake. If John Nash was right, the best way to succeed is to succeed together. I think IBM feels empathically as well as intelligently that that is so. Microsoft may in the future, as well.

      If the open development and open business models take hold, I think we may see a paradigm shift in industry (though possibly only in software) where no one makes a product, but each (company, community, individual) may add something or change something, and if it takes off well and the resources are there, they will be compensated.

      People who say that this model won't work forget (or maybe never learned!) that people are often noticed for their abilities despite the fact that they may not be employed by a company in that field, or may not be particularly well-versed in it, but because they can still understand a particular problem and solve it well.

      This is my hope, at least.
    • Re:A Question (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gnuru.org (706611)

      What changed, specifically?

      IBM lost the OS wars, so selling OS's became a minor part of IBM's business. Sure, there is still a niche market for AIX, but it is pennies for an outfit like IBM.

      So, IBM had nothing to lose if it jumped on the Linux bandwagon. In fact, it has been a boon because they've been able to market one OS for their entire server range from the i386s, to the PPCs to the mainframes. And they've been able to pitch a single unified vision around Linux, in particular, IBM hardware runn

    • Re:A Question (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:32PM (#8398827)
      IBM ceased to be a computer company.

      No, really. IBM was a company that sold big iron, and they did it for years. But then the market shifted to minicomputers, and IBM suffered. And the market moved to microcomputers, and IBM found itself unable to compete with Compaq and later Dell, while the high-margin parts of the system were monopolized by Microsoft and Intel.

      So IBM regrouped, and became a serivces company. Oh, sure, they kept a number of legacy buisnesses together; there's still bits of a computer company still in IBM. But, in the main, they're a services company. And the thing about being a services company is that the more your customers spend on the hardware and software, the less of their IT budget they have left to spend on your services.

      IBM wants cheap, standardized software and hardware the same way your local restaurant wants cheap, high-quality meat and produce. The restaurant isn't selling you eight ounces of cow muscle and a potato for $20; it's selling you the services of the cooks, the waiters, the dishwashers, and the rest.
  • by GGardner (97375) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:38AM (#8398159)
    IBM has a less well known Java VM for embedded systems called j9. This was developed in a clean-room way. If IBM wants an Open Source, commercial quality VM, there's nothing stopping them from opening this one.
  • Not said... (Score:5, Funny)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:38AM (#8398167) Homepage Journal
    Hi Rob,

    [Open Source Java or you risk relegating it, while .NET on commodity hardware gobbles up both the development and hardware markets to Sun's eventual doom. Work with us and Java will be strong as many eyes and hands (ours included) clean it up and expand it where need and demand lay. Ignore this request and we'll pick it up at your bankruptcy auction.

    Regards,
    Rod

  • Open letter (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gid13 (620803) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:39AM (#8398181)
    As much as I love open source and even openness in other forms (like letters), I can't help but think that open letters tend to be more about making news than actually seriously expecting things to work the proposed way.
  • Nice. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NegativeK (547688) <tekarien.hotmail@com> on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:40AM (#8398187) Homepage
    This is a win-win situation for IBM. If Sun goes for it, IBM gets it's hand in the development of an open implementation of Java. If Sun doesn't, IBM can say that they tried. Either way, IBM appeals to the open source community.

    As for Sun, it's almost lose, lose. If Sun goes for it, they lose complete control over Java, which is a cash crop for them. If they don't, they look stingy to the open source community, and alienate a lot of us.

    Poor sun, nice IBM. .
    • Re:Nice. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nsayer (86181) <nsayer@@@kfu...com> on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:52AM (#8398347) Homepage
      If Sun goes for it, they lose complete control over Java, which is a cash crop for them.

      If they dual license it, then they get to retain complete control over the commercial fork of it. Sun would be unique in that no other entity would have the rights that Sun does to use Java other than under the GPL.

      I think that would keep Sun pretty firmly in the driver's seat.

      If IBM is serious about this and Sun refuses to play ball, then I'd be surprised if IBM didn't suddenly decide to champion the Kaffe project [kaffe.org] or perhaps even start their own open Java system.

      IBM, being, well, IBM, will have an open Java one way or another, if that's really what they want.

      • Re:Nice. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dr. Evil (3501)

        I think that would keep Sun pretty firmly in the driver's seat.

        It's odd...

        Sun perhaps knows this best from OpenOffice/StarOffice. They've made a huge commitment to Open Source.

        But... when dealing with companies like Microsoft, Microsoft could embrace the GPL'd Java. Sun would have have a hard time preventing Microsoft from repeating what they did with J++, they could market .net as an environment which is 100% forward compatible and simultaneously extends the capabilities of Java, a nice marketing

    • Re:Nice. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dnoyeb (547705)
      I can't see Java as a cash crop for Sun. I am sure there is MUCH more money being made in services surrounding Java than in any direct licensing of JVMs.

      Sun is too stubborn or ignorant to see this. Or simply they fear they can not compete.

      If I held Sun shares I would be voting that CEO out.
  • by toesate (652111) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:40AM (#8398195) Homepage Journal
    and IBM may likely do it, to put their AIX stuffs behind Linux, given what they have already done.

    It makes a lot of business sense for IBM to get open source Java, especially for their application server space.
  • by AbbyNormal (216235) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:41AM (#8398211) Homepage
    else keep thinking about LOTR, when they think of Sun and Java.

    Sun being the Golem and Java being the "ring".

    "My Precccciousssss...Myyyy Precious".
  • What about gjc? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sleepingsquirrel (587025) <Greg.Buchholz@sl ... g ['squ' in gap]> on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:42AM (#8398222) Homepage Journal
    IBM doesn't needs Sun's help/permission. Why don't they start to contribute to the already existing free java stuff like gjc [gnu.org] and GNU Classpath [gnu.org]?
    • Re:What about gjc? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:00PM (#8398450) Homepage Journal
      IBM already has it's own Java compiler: Jikes.

      IBM doesn't NEED Sun's help with providing the software, but without a commitment from Sun IBM would be in the same situation with them as with Microsoft: They can change the specs whenever they feel like it to keep their competitive advantage over other tools.

      Frankly I see IBM's comments as an ingenious PR move. Either Sun opens Java, and it will be a great PR win for IBM and great for business, or Sun doesn't in which case it's a big PR win for IBM towards customers (look guys, we're promoting open standards, but Sun just doesn't want to play ball - do you REALLY want to get tied in to a company like that?)

    • Re:What about gjc? (Score:5, Informative)

      by dominator (61418) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:11PM (#8398564) Homepage
      IBM could do as you suggest. Then again, they have already written their own Java compiler (Jikes [ibm.com]), at least one of their own JVMs, [ibm.com] their own servlet container (Jakarta [apache.org]), etc...

      I'd recommend looking at this page [ibm.com] for more info on IBM + Java + OSS.

      IBM has already written at least one high-quality JVM implementation which is not OSS because of contracts that IBM has with Sun. Of course, suggesting that IBM work on GCJ and Classpath has some merit in and of itself. But realize that IBM has sunk untold man-hours and dolars into developing its own JVM - resources that they now wish to contribute to the community at-large as OSS. I personally can't blame them if they didn't wish to spend a similar amount of resources on GCJ and Classpath when what they've got works.

      Perhaps with this Open Letter IBM is looking for permission to open up the code. Perhaps they are looking to collaborate with Sun to create an even better project. Perhaps this is all just marketing/PR bs. Time will tell.

      Dom
      • Re:What about gjc? (Score:5, Informative)

        by radish (98371) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:32PM (#8398825) Homepage
        Jakarta is neither a servlet container, nor an IBM project. Jakarta is the general project which groups all the Java related work within the Apache Foundation, so there isn't really a Jakarta product as such. The servlet container within Jakarta is Tomcat, but again, that's not an IBM project.
  • by Hrolf (564645) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:42AM (#8398230)
    So does this mean the Slashdotters who claimed that ESR damaged the open source community via his letter to Sun will now retract their views? It seems we're closer to an open source Java as a result of his opening salvo (little gun-toting humor there) than we were before he wrote his letter.
  • Licensing issues (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomai@g m a i l . c om> on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:43AM (#8398234) Homepage
    Q: What's to stop Sun and IBM from open-sourcing the JDKs they have now? A: Third-party IP. Odds are, both Sun's and IBM's JDKs are chock full of third-party IP. Even the stuff that IBM implements in a "clean room way" probably contains IP that IBM licensed from somebody else. One could interpret IBM's gesture as offering to produce parts of the JDK that are free from IP encumbrances.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:43AM (#8398240) Homepage Journal
    Everyone's read ESR's open letters, but the real, convincing, extremely well-written case was done by Ganesh Prashad in a Linux Today editorial yesterday [linuxtoday.com]. Ganesh lays it out in terms Sun can understand, without ESR's controversial style. This article is a must read for us, but it's also something that should be absolutely wallpapered in Scott McNealy's office, and maybe his home too.

    Ganesh very clearly demonstrates how Sun will lose J2EE's 'lingua franca of business logic' status to .NET if they don't let the community galvanize and help out, and the only way to do that is to open source the Java core.
  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:44AM (#8398254) Homepage Journal
    I think most people, and obviously IBM, are missing some key points to why Sun treats Java how it does.

    Things are tight fisted because Sun wants a solid, CONSISTANT platform. This was a MAJOR REASON for the lawsuit that they fought and WON against Microsoft and their VM implementation.

    Opening it up not only kills that idea (anyone can alter the platform specifications for whatever selfish reasons), but it would undermine all of the fight they have put up at this point.
    • by CaptnMArk (9003) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:49AM (#8398315)
      You are sugesting a fork in Java development.

      This will only happen (in a bad way) if Sun are neglecting Java development and not doing things people want.

      (I do personally belive Java could stand some cleaning up, but it doesn't have to happen overnight)
    • by DavidNWelton (142216) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:50AM (#8398322) Homepage
      The code can be open without the specification and the name being open. You can download Apache and hack it, but you can't call it Apache, for instance. Same goes for TeX.
    • by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:18PM (#8398630) Journal
      Things are tight fisted because Sun wants a solid, CONSISTANT platform. This was a MAJOR REASON for the lawsuit that they fought and WON against Microsoft and their VM implementation

      And, open-source software would be inconsistent because.......?

      Inconsistent, like Apache [apache.org]?

      or, perhaps, MySQL [mysql.org]?

      I get it. You mean inconsistent like this [kernel.org], this [postgresql.org], or this [openoffice.org]?

      Oh, the above aren't languages, like php [php.net] or perl [perl.org]?

      Eh, wait a minute. These are all *successful* projects, that are consistent?

      If Sun were to open Java sources, it would be trivial to introduce a license (EG: GPL) that would largely offset forking of the codebase. Their best bet would be to pull a "QT [trolltech.com]" - open the source as GPL, then sell commercial licenses.

      • Java is not PHP (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jtheory (626492) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:50PM (#8399093) Homepage Journal
        And, open-source software would be inconsistent because.......?

        You mention Apache, MySql, Perl, PHP, and so on, but none of these projects are at risk of a malicious fork the way Java is.

        We all know what Microsoft did with Java the first time around -- added in a bunch of MS-only extensions and more subtle incompatibilities, then shipped their version with every version of Windows, and put out an IDE that encouraged the use of their proprietary extensions. They also put a lot of work into making their JVM the fastest one out there, which further encouraged its use (and misuse).

        Why in the world wouldn't they do that again, given this golden opportunity? Dual licensing, GPL restrictions, etc., don't help from what I can see.

        Okay, under the GPL they would have to distribute it for free -- no problem, that's what they were doing before. Ah, and they'd have to release the source -- again, no problem, since it's all Windows-only extensions that cannot be supported in a cross-platform Java (do you think Sun really wants to be playing catch-up with MS, anyway?).

        Java on the server would still be safer than on the client. MS could add in extensions to encourange interaction with .NET and other MS software, but you still have developers who make a choice that's (hopefully) informed about lock-in. But Java on the client would be back under total MS control.

        It wouldn't matter if they couldn't call it "Java". It would simply be the same old jview.exe that ran when you hit a JNLP link, applet, or application JAR.

        Am I missing something here? I'm not neccessarily against open-sourcing Java (because I'd feel slightly safer, and I think the GUI libs would get a boost), but I think this needs to be addressed first.
      • Re:Missing the point (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2004 @01:05PM (#8399338)
        If Sun were to open Java sources, it would be trivial to introduce a license (EG: GPL) that would largely offset forking of the codebase.

        It's not so much "forking" itself, but the goal of "Write Once, Run Anywhere".

        What Microsoft did was add some language keywords that allowed one to call COM objects from Java -- which was damn useful if you only were targetting Windows. However, these keywords generated non-standard bytecodes, and non-standard bytecodes crash other JVMs.

        So, none of your examples really address Sun's goals -- PHP and Perl come close, but they basically accept portability problems. It would be basically impossible to prevent divergance of the actual bytecode instructions even with a strong licence like GPL.

        An Open Source class library would make much more sense than an Open Source JVM. (not GPL, and perhaps with some naming requirements for modified libs). It's not like there's any big secrets in there.
  • by expro (597113) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:44AM (#8398257)
    With the eclipse project, Sun felt left out. Now, it is time for them to put up or shut up, and if they refuse and IBM decides to open source their own stuff regardless, Sun has no one to blame but themselves.
  • Whoa... (Score:5, Funny)

    by bersl2 (689221) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:44AM (#8398260) Journal
    Did ESR just bitch, and things actually happened?

    I'm impressed; unless he has an "in," of course...
  • MySQL License (Score:5, Interesting)

    by attobyte (20206) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:45AM (#8398271)
    Could Sun license it under some terms like MySQL where you could deveople opensource projects with out buying a license. If you want to keep your product closed you would have to buy a license from Sun. I know they are very two different beasts so that is why I am asking.
  • OSS Support (Score:4, Interesting)

    by laymil (14940) <laymil@obsolescence.net> on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:47AM (#8398290) Homepage
    As the days and months go by, it really seems as though IBM is serious about its support of OSS. Is this truly the case? Most likely. If you examine the past, all the PC software IBM has produced has either failed miserably or been defeated in the market by other software.
    Perhaps IBM has realized that an investment into OSS is more cost efficient than paying to develop their own closed source software.

    Opening Java systematically would make it more appealing to a wider user base - No longer would it's major uses have to be confined to web, Sun, or CS classes at major universities.

    Sun made a nice start on Java, but like most closed, standardized software, a better alternative could probably be written.

    Kudos to IBM for their support. Hopefully Sun will accept their offer and a better, OSS version of Java will be released.
  • Brilliant! (Score:4, Funny)

    by JediTrainer (314273) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:49AM (#8398313)
    Now we can get IBM to open up Java's code like they opened SCO's!

    (heavy on the sarcasm here - don't take me too seriously)
  • by fdragon (138768) <fdragon@@@fdragon...org> on Thursday February 26, 2004 @11:51AM (#8398335) Homepage
    What about the already existing Open Source Java implimentations?

    GNU Compiler for Java [gnu.org] is available from the FSF. There is also work to make a Mozilla plugin for using GCJ to allow Java Applets to run.

    Kaffe [kaffe.org] PersonalJava 1.1 compliant Java.

    Kaffe once shipped with RedHat. GCJ currently ships with most major linux distributions right now.
  • by brasten (699342) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:00PM (#8398452)
    McNealy addressed this issue year or so ago...

    The problem they're afraid of is Microsoft embracing & extending Java. The ability that Sun had to sue Microsoft and force them to cease their modifications would no longer exist.

    Now imagine Bill Gates at home in his Medina mansion.. (only 10 minutes away from here actually... sad...). Everywhere he tries to push .NET and his vision, Java's there. Java's beating him, or right behind him, on almost every front, and for the better part of the last few years, he's been unable to combat this enemy with any major success. Now imagine someone hands him the source code and tells him he can fork it however it wants. What would he do?

    I don't know. And for the time being, I'm fine not knowing...
  • by StrawberryFrog (67065) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:04PM (#8398490) Homepage Journal
    This is playing to an audience (us) when the writer knows that the addressee won't go along. Otherwise a private letter would suffice. It's just a statement of position, don't expect anything to come of it.

    Do open letters ever achive their overt goals?
  • by joelparker (586428) <joel@school.net> on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:05PM (#8398506) Homepage
    Sun & IBM both want Java to succeed.

    But does IBM honestly think that open-source
    is the best path to creating successful software?
    If so, how about an open-source WebSphere & DB2?

    It would be great if IBM could use its muscle
    to move Java forward in the areas that need it,
    like advocating for open-source J2EE servers,
    and ideally more sensible ways to deploy J2EE.

    Anyone here playing with Java 1.5?
    Sun made things more sensible like
    autoboxing and generics and loops--
    how about making J2EE more sensible?

    IMHO, Sun & IBM both need this to happen
    before MS gets momentum on the big servers.

    Cheers, Joel

    • by pwagland (472537) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:23PM (#8398703) Journal
      Sun & IBM both want Java to succeed.

      But does IBM honestly think that open-source is the best path to creating successful software? If so, how about an open-source WebSphere & DB2?
      The difference is that WebSphere is (to some extent) based on quite a few open source projects, many of which IBM contribute to. For example, xalan, xerces, log4j, apache.

      This is just IBM saying that they see Java as a fundamental building block, and that if it isn't free it will have serious issues in the future, inluding losing developer mindshare.

  • Why do we need it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Richard_at_work (517087) * <richardprice@gm a i l.com> on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:17PM (#8398622)
    The OpenSource crowd has never been happy with the lack of total freedom presented by either Java or .Net, and thus campaign for the opening of both systems. There are opensource versions of both Java and .Net in heavy development, but why are we bothering? Why dont we just come up with our own Java/.Net like language, which we control, which is under the BSDL and thus an Open Standard? Why are we constantly clamouring for the owners of the systems to give us a break, when we could probably go off on our own, create our own language which is jsut as good, allows ups to stipulate our own restrictions on the usage, and best of all, we are not beholden to ANYONE because its ours 100%. While big business sometimes claims to innovate while masking the fact it bought the advancements in, there has been little innovation in the Open Source arena (dont flame, im stating it as i see it), and a lot of rushing to get where someone else has been previously.
  • by jg21 (677801) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:18PM (#8398631)
    Here. [sys-con.com]
  • by Mr Pippin (659094) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:18PM (#8398636)
    Are we sure that Java is not a derivitive work of AT&T SYSV Unix, and thus the property of SCO?

    :-|

  • this is utterly ridiculous and interesting, but it's not in sun's blood. Sun: "why the hell should we give up control; we made java!" IBM: "look, if Java was open-source, more people would use it, and you are after all a services/hardware co." Sun: "Why don't you pay us for open-sourcing it?" IBM: "ehm, because..." Sun: "aha!" IBM: "Because we've just decided we're just going to buy your company for 50 billion" Sun: "REALLY??? YES!" IBM: "Um, we were just kidding. You guys suck. You have no idea what you are doing. Just Look at your Gnome situation for god sakes!" Sun: "Hey! We're planning on assassinating Miguel when he crosses the border." IBM: "It's not the 80s anymore, what the hell is wrong with you? This conversation is over!" Sun: Oh like you are so good, you know you are going to turn on everyone once you've assimilated all that can be comoditized and globalized. At least we're not freaking evil!"
  • by nepheles (642829) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:36PM (#8398889) Homepage
    A petition [petitiononline.com] has just been launched.
  • Like Fidel? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ClosedSource (238333) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:41PM (#8398971)
    This offer reminds me of Fidel Castro's hilarious offer to the US to send election observers to Florida in light of the 2000 presidential election SNAFU.
  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:47PM (#8399061) Homepage Journal
    Let me get this straight: is this an attempt to get Sun to cooperate on creating an open source Java implementation? I don't see any mention of opening up specifications, or even the to-be-developed implementation becoming the reference implementation.

    If so, what's all the fuss about? We already have several [gnu.org] efforts [kaffe.org] underway [gnu.org] that implement Java as OSS. Why does'n IBM join them?
  • OY, this is insane. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FooMasterZero (515781) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @12:48PM (#8399075) Homepage
    Sun, has done a decent job of making Java as open as possible. I think people tend to forget that the Java language specification is posted on the web without charge. The Java language specification often goes through the Java Community process so the JLS isn't completely and inbred mess. So as far as company that has one goal to make money on something Sun is being as open as they can be.

    Sun's JVM is an implementation of that JLS
    IBM's JVM is an implementation of that same JLS
    BlackDown is an implementation of that same JLS ... and on and on and on with the other JRocket, and even Apple
    With most of the implementations not offically open source this seems to mean that java itself isn't 'open'.

    I think IBM wants to take Sun's VM and expand on it and be in on the ground floor so they can reap any potential earnings from the join venture. They are being as civil as a business can be by saying they want to simply help and not take it over or back-stab them, since IBM has the size and capacity to make just about anything it needs.

    But pack to the open-source debacle Java can be open sourced if someone is ambitious enough. I would imagine if they didn't spend as much time badgering Sun, they might have one by now. I think Sun's apprehension of opening Java up stems from the Microsoft mess where one JVM had significantly different behavior than the Sun JVM and caused Java appear to be a defunct technology that should be avoided in leiu of ActiveX

    This is my view, right or wrong I at least have one.
  • Just wondering... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JohnnyCannuk (19863) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @02:23PM (#8400401)
    but is there an "Open Source" C? or C++?

    I mean, these are Open Standards right? So the Language spec is not really OSS, but I can down load it from ANSI and implement it if I like, right?

    So, why doesn't somebody just get the freely available Java spec and implemented? Isn't that what the GCJ is doing? Isn't that Open Source? Why doesn't everyone whine to IBM to Opensource THEIR implementation of the spec, or BEA JRockit or Apple?

    Sun acts as the keeper of the flame for the various Java specs, in concert with the JCP (which is an open organization BTW). Those specs are free to read and implement. FWIW, I think Sun has done a great job of keeping Java open and compatible, especially when MS tried to "embrace and extend" in '97 - '99.

    I say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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