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James Gosling On The Sun/Microsoft Settlement 361

Posted by timothy
from the horse's-mouth dept.
greg_barton writes "James Gosling has responded to the two previous commentaries cited on Slashdot about the Java Dilemma. Some interesting excerpts: "In Rick Ross's 'Where Is Java In This Settlement?' he worries that Sun may have sold out the Java community. We didn't. We have not sold our soul to the Dark Side." and "There's a long thread of discussion on Slashdot 'Two Takes on the Java Dilemma' that is pretty entertaining, from a wow, what are they smoking! point of view. There are voices of reason, and conspiracy nuts.""
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James Gosling On The Sun/Microsoft Settlement

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  • by coupland (160334) * <dchase AT hotmail DOT com> on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @09:49PM (#8855968) Journal
    Personally I'm surprised nobody is lobbing Big Blue's name around in all these discussions, because I think the Sun/Microsoft deal has a lot more to do with IBM than it does with Sun.

    IBM is the only company in the world that could realistically engage in a multi-front competitive battle with Microsoft. And if they were capable of gaining more control of Java (perhaps by a cash investment in Sun, or perhaps even buying them) they would pose a far greater threat to Microsoft than Netscape ever did. IBM's e-business strategy coupled with Java control would be an unstoppable force.

    People talk about Microsoft competitors yet they raise company names like Sun, Real, or Netscape. The threat they pose to Microsoft is a drop in the bucket compared to IBM and their e-business strategy. A strategy that is incredibly reliant on Java.

    Taking it a logical step further lets assume Microsoft made this settlement not to take *Sun* out of the game, but rather to take *IBM* out of the game. Perhaps the silence on the Java front is because $2 billion is the price to get Sun to walk away from Java. Silently. Could this cause Rich Green to leave in disgust?

    Personally I suspect this deal was all about dealing a terrible blow to IBM. I think the one thing Sun and Microsoft aren't talking about is the one thing they ever really cared about in this deal -- Java. I hope not, but the more I read the more sure I become that Sun has done a deal with the devil and Java was the bargaining chip.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Thats one reason but I think the real reason is that Microsoft now realizes the government isn't going to break the up. MS developed .NET only so that if the government broke them up, they would be at a competitive advantage in the application front against competitors (since they could easily port to various OS'). Now that thats not going to happen, Java is a nuisance that MS can't stand anymore.
    • by Anarcho-Goth (701004) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:09PM (#8856134) Homepage Journal
      People talk about Microsoft competitors yet they raise company names like Sun, Real, or Netscape.

      I would guess that this is because before Microsoft was the big evil corporation that is going to take over the world, IBM was.

      The difference being that IBM cut down dramatically on acts that could potentially be interpreted as anti-competative, and maybe even took a step back. I remember some IBM people telling me that IBM made a lot of bussiness mistakes in the late 80s early 90s. This might or might not be related to the IBM anti-trust trial, but before then they had stopped being quite so ruthless.

      The difference between IBM's and Microsoft's anti-trust trials were I don't think IBM ever got convicted, and they cut it out anyway so it became a moot point, while Microsoft was convicted, but nothing is being done to tame them.

      IBM is the only company in the world that could realistically engage in a multi-front competitive battle with Microsoft.

      True, and one would hope that an IBM monopoly would at least write better software than Microsoft. And they are supporting Linux right now so they might be content to share the wealth, as long as they are still making buckets of money themselves, and not force the entire world to use crappy software.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:27PM (#8856253)
      About a third to half of the article you're supposedly responding to consists of Mr. Gosling claiming the exact set of baseless allegations your post brings up to be false. In fact, attempting to refute such allegations appears to have been one of his primary reasons for writing said article.

      Did you just not notice this? Or did you not read the article? I'm leaning toward the second, since first off it references nothing in this article whatsoever, and second that's an awful long and carefully-formed post to have gotten FP on. Either you read and type reeeal fast, or you wrote this beforehand and waited for another Sun story so you could grab an early post number and get up to Score:5.

      So, at any rate, let's give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you read the article. So is what you are implying by your post that you believe Mr. Gosling to be lying when he explicitly brings up the things you allege and says they are entirely untrue and without basis? Why?
    • by jarrettwold2002 (601633) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:45PM (#8856374)
      I disagree that IBM is at the moment, capable of engaging Microsoft in a multiple front competitive battle with Microsoft.

      They are capable of going directly against the Windows Server platform and that is essentially it. Gerstner transformed most of the company into a best of breed systems integration provider. In addition IBM's far flung divisions at the beginning of Gerstner's reign, are still more or less far flung.

      The two critical areas that Microsoft maintains dominance in are: Office and Windows consumer editions. IBM has no product offerings that rival in any reasonable shape those two dominant areas. We can speak of OS/2 and so forth, but market reality is what it is.

      At the core IBM is a fundamentally different Big Blue. Their largest competitors are no longer Microsoft in a large way, but Oracle, SAP and others.

      IBM is a complex organization. It has teriffic potential in many of the research projects. However, how these concepts are utilized in products is another matter.

      Sun and Java are for the most part inseperable. I doubt very highly that after the investment of billions into Java, that Sun will part ways with it for 2 Billion dollars. The future of their company in many ways rides on Java. If they do part with it, then they part ways with running a company.

      Litigation encourages further litigation. Microsoft paid Sun off as a)nuisance fee b)avoid precedent setting and c)to rest. You have to realize Microsoft has been in almost constant litiagtion with fairly large companies for just under a decade.

      Microsoft is a predatory animal. However even predators need some R&R before the next hunt.
    • IBM is the only company in the world that could realistically engage in a multi-front competitive battle with Microsoft.

      true, but from an IBM perspective there is no reason to do so:

      1 - does IBM want to be MS? no.
      2 - would they have a good chance of winning if they tried? no.
      3 - does IBM make bucketloads of money doing what they are doing right now? yes.

      IBM has given up on dominating the OS market a long time ago. And it has since learned that there was no harm in that. MS' star is sinking and IBM can s
  • Yanno... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by up up down down lrlr (761202) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @09:55PM (#8856023)
    Scott McNealy used to always say gravity was on his side. I used to wonder how he figured that since you had IBM, and all the other big iron makers dropping in from above and back then it was microsoft and intel setting up a rockhard floor for him to be squished on.

    Sun is now in quite the pickle. Sparcstations arent a contender for the desktop. Their server sales are being trashed by Linux on Intel, and Linux on mainframe.

    Their latest play MadHatter looks nice but so does lindows,suse, and redhat. The latter 3 have one great thing going for them, they are one time licenses not perpetual service contracts like mad hatter.

    Its no wonder that they paid SCO a licenses fee and are now dissing Linux. Its also no wonder that Bill Joy left the company.
  • Not that there is anything particularly wrong with having a viewpoint that perhaps GPL-like freedom is not the most important thing to preserve in computing, but Gosling's personal attacks on RMS are a little over the top. He starts off by accusing RMS of redefining "Free" and then proceeds to deconstruct the entire concept of Software Freedom based on the hinge that RMS is essentially a kook.

    I respect Gosling as a very intelligent programmer and language designer, but his willingness to engage in persona
    • by Jason Earl (1894) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:20PM (#8856223) Homepage Journal

      Not to mention the fact software compiled with gcj or linked with libgcj don't fall under the GPL. You can write proprietary software and compile with gcj and not be "infected" by the GPL. So this part of Gosling's anti-RMS rant is pure FUD.

      The real problem is that after all of the work that Sun has put into making Java a platform in real life Java is currently splitting into a million different directions. gcj and GNU Classpath are picking up steam, IBM is pushing platform dependent SWT and Eclipse instead of Swing, etc. With Sun losing the hardware war to Intel and AMD, and the UNIX war to Linux, that leaves Sun with Java as its best hope for a recovery. However, it's a pretty slim hope. Java application servers are basically a comodity as are Java development tools.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Not to mention the fact software compiled with gcj or linked with libgcj don't fall under the GPL. You can write proprietary software and compile with gcj and not be "infected" by the GPL. So this part of Gosling's anti-RMS rant is pure FUD.

        While that bit was very confusing, what I believe Gosling was trying to do with his "viral license" paragraph was that he was simply trying to set up a comparison between the license on the Java materials and the GPL. I think he wasn't so much trying to say "the GPL is
      • "Classpath is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License with the following clarification and special exception. Linking this library statically or dynamically with other modules is making a combined work based on this library. Thus, the terms and conditions of the GNU General Public License cover the whole combination.

        As a special exception, the copyright holders of this library give you permission to link this library with independent modules to produce an executable, rega
      • by ArtDent (83554) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @12:50AM (#8857202)
        I'm baffled by most of Gosling's comments about RMS and the GPL. The aspect of the GPL that he seems to be remarking on with his "viral infection clause" comment is that it permits you to modify and redistribute the software licensed under it, provided the new work is also licensed under the GPL. Apparently, this is a "catch" -- a restriction of the GPL -- in comparison to the license used by Sun for the Java source.

        The implication, then, is that not only does Sun's license permit you to modify and restribute Java, it permits you to do so under any license of your chosing.

        I find this highly suspect, though I don't know for sure that it's untrue. If this is the case, why doesn't the FSF regard it as a Free Software license (although, like BSD, obviously not a Copyleft license)? Why hasn't the OSI certified it as an Open Source license? Why isn't it included in Debian?

        My impression was that Sun's Java implementations were distributed under a look-but-don't-touch license. That is, while the source is provided, you are not permitted to modify and redistribute it. If this impression is incorrect, I'd really like to know, but if it isn't, then I'd have to say that Gosling is either quite ignorant about the GPL, or he's being deliberately misleading in his characterization of it.
        • The aspect of the GPL that he seems to be remarking on with his "viral infection clause" comment is that it permits you to modify and redistribute the software licensed under it, provided the new work is also licensed under the GPL.

          No, this is not what he's talking about. He's referring to the fact that if you link with a GPL'd library, even without modification, your software needs to be licensed with GPL. In this case, if Java was licensed in GPL, all software written would also have to be licensed i

          • In this case, if Java was licensed in GPL, all software written would also have to be licensed in GPL.

            Which is why the option of LGPL exists.. or GPL plus some extra exemptions.. or other similar licenses that force freedom of the libraries but allow linking by that which is non-free.
            • Exactly. There are already a bunch of licenses that will make sure the source in original or modified form will stay open, but allow its use in all software. Complaining about viral characteristics of GPL immediately is little more than knee-jerk action on Gosling's part since it's one extreme of a whole spectrum of possibilities, and we, as fellow geeks, feel he should know better. It's hard to imagine that he doesn't know there are other options to open sourcing Java.

              On the other hand, it always seemed t
        • by jrumney (197329) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @05:43AM (#8858188) Homepage
          I'm baffled by most of Gosling's comments about RMS and the GPL.

          It is no surprise to see Gosling attack the GPL. He is personally responsible for it's creation, and I don't mean that as a compliment. If it wasn't for him, RMS would have continued releasing his work into the public domain, at least until the next Gosling came along and demonstrated that freedom needs to be protected.

    • by elmegil (12001) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:25PM (#8856238) Homepage Journal
      RMS is essentially a kook.

      Let's see. My first exposure to RMS was being told as an undergrad that if I wanted to, I could go log into his accounts at MIT because he didn't bother to keep a password. He has proceeded to rant and rave and rail against anything that is not his pure community of software technicians giving their every line for the greater good.

      RMS is essentially a kook.

      I couldn't have said it better myself. He has certainly done many great things with his efforts, but in the general scheme of things, he's a kook. If you weren't so hung up on taking the observation personally and finding people to label "Anti Free" perhaps you'd be better able to accept this.

      Finally, and to the point, Gosling doesn't call him a kook; he comments that RMS has a peculiar (as in unique) definition of "Free". Some of his comments about GPL are less charitable, but they don't involve whether RMS is a kook or not.

      • My first exposure to RMS was his preface to the book that came bundled with MkLinux. It began with this guy from the FSF (which I knew had something to do with Emacs) explaining that while Linux on the PPC was well and good:
        1) It's GNU/Linux!
        2) He still hates Apple.
        3) Why wasn't the book free?
      • I don't understand why people think GPL software is free just because money doesn't change hands. When someone uses GPL software, they are getting something of value -- access to useful programs and the source code for it. Rather than paying money, GPL software is paid in-kind, by giving away the programming effort used to exploit the free programs.

        Microsoft charges money for access to useful programs and sometimes gives access to the source code for huge amounts of money. After paying for this, program
    • by Anonymous Coward
      While his comments in the article were troubling and very poorly backed up, I believe the reason that he was putting a personal attack on RMS was that RMS was, personally, attacking Sun and Java.
    • by sporty (27564) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:33PM (#8856294) Homepage
      In some ways, RMS is a kook. He's taken a basic word, "free" and redefined it. Free doesn't have to mean, free for anyony to get and use. Free can also mean, as gosling pointed out, free of charge. In some ways, the bsd license is "free-er" than GPL, as you owe no one anything other than a statement in the source. You can sell it in binary form, no hooks attached.

      • Free doesn't have to mean, free for anyony to get and use. Free can also mean, as gosling pointed out, free of charge.

        Well, that's English for you. :)

        I believe that people in the community differentiate between the two meanings by using the words gratis and libre.
      • [RMS has] taken a basic word, "free" and redefined it.

        Without context, "free" has about as much objective meaning as "good." You'll find a simple description of the context in which RMS uses the word in Categories of Free and Non-Free Software [gnu.org]. Compared to Gosling's parroted pejoratives, like "viral infection," this is a much more useful basis for discussion.

      • Huh? Free when RMS uses it isn't "free for anyony to get and use", whoever anyony is. Free when RMS uses it is free as in freedom, a meaning that many in the proprietary software community seem to have conveniently forgotten.

      • by Bob9113 (14996) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @12:03AM (#8856891) Homepage
        OK, I'm being redundant, as others have already pointed this out, but there are 22 definitions of free, plus subdefinitions, in the American Heritage Dictionary. We find RMS's within the first three:
        free (P) Pronunciation Key (fr)
        adj. freer, freest
        1. Not imprisoned or enslaved; being at liberty.
        2. Not controlled by obligation or the will of another: felt free to go.
        3.a. Having political independence: "America... is the freest and wealthiest nation in the world" (Rudolph W. Giuliani).
        3.b. Governed by consent and possessing or granting civil liberties: a free citizenry.
        3.c. Not subject to arbitrary interference by a government: a free press.

        RMS is using definition 3.b., "Governed by consent and possessing or granting civil liberties."

        1. You make your own decision about whether you wish to become subject to the GPL license (by choosing whether you wish to distribute it or derivative works).
        2. By accepting those terms, you agree to a set of civil liberties; namely, that the work and all derivative works, if distributed, must be made available for access and mutation.

        This is identical to the concept of "free" used in the US government and the governments of many other nations. You are free to be a US citizen if you agree that you will not, for example, deny another the right to speak. You are also bound to certain courses of action by your freedom; for example, it is your personal duty to fix the government when it gets too far out of line. The GPL has a political agenda just like the US Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights do, and in both cases, they are in accord with one of the commonly accepted definitions of "free."

        None of this makes RMS's definition "right", or Gosling's definition "wrong." The only objectively wrong thing would be to say that either of them is wrong. Both forms of "free" are encompassed in the definition of the term "free."
    • RMS _is_ a kook, and GPL'd software isn't free. I personally think authors should be able to choose whatever licence they please, including the GPL, but the only truly free software is public domain software. GPL'd software is free of charge, and free for modification / redistribution, but it's only free so long as you only ever want to do the same things with it as RMS wants you to.
    • He didn't attack RMS and RMS did, in fact, redefine "free". No one in their right mind would suggest that the GPL is unburdened. Gosling's comments were absolutely spot-on. At least he recognizes that Java license is burdened with an agenda and defends it.
    • Yeah, and he wants to convince us that Java is even more 'free' in some respects than GPL software. Of course, he doesn't lie when he basically claims: GPL = share your code for your apps JAVA = test for compatibility. Sounds nice and reasonable.

      Unlike GPLd software, the Java sources don't come with a viral infection clause that requires you to apply the GPL to your own code. But the sources for the JDK do come with a license that has a different catch: redistribution requires compatibility testing. Thi

  • Change in Rhetoric (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LaNMaN2000 (173615) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @09:58PM (#8856046) Homepage
    I think that there will be little meaningful technological change in either Microsoft's or Sun's products as a result of the settlement. Microsoft did not want to be barred from distributing the JVM while Sun did not want Microsoft to fork Java (like J++ originally tried to). The settlement ensures that both concerns are met. The major surprise to me was the magnitude and nature of the license payments to Sun. I would have thought Microsoft could structure the payments as an equity investment similar to their $100million investment in Apple so as to at least they receive something of more tangible value in return.
    • by nudicle (652327) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:44PM (#8856362)
      I don't know why MSFT and Sun chose the settlement payment scheme as they did, but one explanation could be that since apparently Microsoft is trying to extinguish as much of its litigation as possible not taking an equity stake was the safer bet. Taking an equity stake in Sun would draw criticism in the form of "Now Microsoft owns ANOTHER big player in the market!" and the anti-trust types (and Europe) would get suspicious, the slashdot theorizing even more wild, etc .... Even if its equity stake were in non-voting shares people would still look askance at the deal.

      Seems to me making the payments as part of a settlement agreement and simply disengaging might have been the more sensible option from a pragmatic point of view.

      That said, I don't actually know.

    • by Alsee (515537) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @04:30AM (#8857978) Homepage
      little meaningful technological change in either Microsoft's or Sun's products as a result of the settlement

      I dissagree.

      Has it not dawned on anyone else that Microsoft current averarching agenda is the Trusted Computing rollout? The information on the Microsoft/Sun deal is very light on details, but it sure looked to me like it included all the licencing and protocals Sun would need to produce Trusted Computing servers to operate with Microsoft Trusted desktops. It specifically mentioned "identity management" interoperability.

      With Sun on board Microsoft gets to avoid charges that it's "Palladium" system is a monopoly. Suddenly it is a multi platform multivendor standard. $2 billion to sweepaway past anti-trust charges, to ensure .NET becomes the standard rather than Java, and most of all to firmly entrench and spread their ultimate goal of Trusted Computing.

      And mere days later Microsoft hands over nearly another half-billion to InterTrust to scoop up all of the DRM patents rights for Trusted Computing.

      Microsoft is spreading the money around to pave the way for Trusted Computing. And for Microsoft it's pocket change.

      What really catched my attention though is the timing on the two deals. Suns deal with Microsoft clears up past infringents by both parties, it grants Sun future rights to the required patentas Microsoft held. BUT! Microsoft did not yet hold InterTrust's DRM patents. Did Microsoft just pull a fast one on SUN? Possibly leaving Sun totally screwed because the deal did NOT include the InterTrust patents that Sun would actually end up needing?

      That would be EXACTLY the sort of "sharp" business tactics Microsoft is notorious for. They dazzle their business "partners" with huge dollar signs to sign a deal, all the while holding a plan to yank the rug out from under them.

      I think Sun better examine the InterTrust deal under a microscope then review their own contracts.

      -
  • Offtopic perhaps...but how often does M$ actually see a lawsuit through it's course in the legal system? It seems that they can buy anything through settlements.
    • Answer: Whenever they can win. Whenever they're on the right side.

      No, I don't remember any of those times either.

      ---
      Oh yeah, in the Eolas patent case, they were on the right side.
  • There are voices of reason, and conspiracy nuts.

    But there really is a conspiracy!

    Seriously though, if there was a conspiracy, would not the voices of reason then become the trolls, and the conspiracy nuts become the voices of reason?

  • by smd4985 (203677) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:00PM (#8856066) Homepage
    i'm going to 'have a little faith' and trust gosling and mcnealy. we haven't even seen what Sun's next move is yet hoards of /.'ers are freaking out. lets give these guys a chance before we dismiss them.
    • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:41PM (#8856344) Journal
      Companies are the wrong place to put trust. They are a nessisary evil that is to be watched carefully to ensure that they do not abuse their power. They are not God, their whitepapers are not to be followed religeously. As always do whats in the best interest of your particular company. Never fall in love with a company or technology, or you will be burned.
    • by Eminor (455350) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @03:16AM (#8857789)
      i'm going to 'have a little faith' and trust gosling and mcnealy.

      I'll have to agree with that sentiment.

      Java is not like a web browser where the users would be ignorant, and just use Microsoft's because that's what they are given. Java developers _know_ who is the authentic source for Java technology. So it's not like Java developers in their masses are going to adopt whatever idiosyncrasies Microsoft implements next.

      I think that Sun should be able to keep ahead of Microsoft on the curve of giving developers what they want (history shows that when somebody implements a good idea, Microsoft copies).

      I don't think McNealy would let Microsoft steer the ship. I think this is a chess match. The current move may perplex you, as it should, but the reasons why the move was made will be clear soon.

      Sun is a fierce in nature when it comes to Microsoft. Don't let yourself think that they gave in so easily. How many Microsoft competitors do you know of that were able to grep a $2 billon settlement out of them?

  • You might want ot view my weblog post titled Gosling smoking weed..

    Gosling makes several errors both on the economic trends of SUN in the server hardware sector the difference between a state machine and a desktop manager and etc..

    Also remember that the linux standard survives and thrives under GPL stewardship..a charge Gosling never has completely refuted other to resort to name calling..

    You will probalby see more name callign from several sectors at Sun.. sad really.. so much could be solved by stoppi
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:04PM (#8856102)
    Do we hate Sun this week? Or was that next week?
  • by dj245 (732906) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:05PM (#8856105) Homepage
    Anyone else read this as "James Gosling On The Sun / Microsoft Settles"?

    Maybe they are afraid that James is going to dramaticically increase the amount he is charging them for radiant energy. Personally I think we should all boycott James Gosling as I don't believe he as actually laid claim to the sun by actually going there.

  • by tonythepony (716819) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:06PM (#8856110)

    Unlike GPLd software, the Java sources don't come with a viral infection clause that requires you to apply the GPL to your own code

    Didn't sell your soul, huh?

    • by Anonymous Coward
    • You know, a lot of us don't like the GPL's terms of redistribution. I choose not to use it in my own software (when possible...), in favor of the BSD license. Does that mean I've sold my soul to Microsoft? I sure hope not, because I didn't even get a receipt.
    • What? It's true. How free is code that I can't use unless I want to give away my sofware, mo matter how little a part the GPLd software is?
      • by dmaxwell (43234) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @12:19AM (#8856983)
        You're perfectly free not to use even the tiniest bit of GPLed work in your project in the first place. You and many others seem to be confusing "freedom" with "utter lack of obligation". The GPL is intended to preserve certain freedoms for both users and developers.

        A developer with no obligations to others can impose any condition he wishes on a user who desires to use his creation. If you wrote it all yourself and didn't put that tiniest bit of GPLed code in then by all means exercise that freedom.

        A user with no obligations to developers can claim any benefit of the code for himself, up and to and including claims of authorship and invention. A user in that position can profit from that code in any way he wishes and return nothing to the developer....not acknowledgement, not improvements, absolutely nothing he doesn't feel like doing.

        In the real world, there isn't a way for both users and developers to have no responsibilities whatsoever regarding software. There are a lot of ways to balance the situation so that both sides can retain significant freedoms hence the spectrum of FOSS licenses. Most of these compromises between original developers and downstream recipients can reasonably be called free. ALL of them have restrictions or obligations for at least the recipient of a software package. Even the "truly free" BSD licenses absolutely require that the copyright notice be preserved. It also implictly requires acknowlegement that author had the right to license his work that a way and indeed still owns the original work. It is a dangerous subtlety for the likes of SCO to miss if they try to do to the BSD community what they are doing to the Linux community.

        The GPL preserves certain liberties (the so-called "four freedoms") as long as certain responsibilities are accepted. You seem to want those liberties without the responsibility, that "tiniest bit of GPLed code". If you don't use that code then there isn't much argument is there?

        I suppose that leaves room for the ongoing semantic debate over what freedom actually is. But there is no reasonable definition of freedom that doesn't include responsibility.

        • by Kombat (93720) <kombat@kombat.org> on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:46AM (#8858781) Homepage
          You're perfectly free not to use even the tiniest bit of GPLed work in your project in the first place.

          But that's not "free!" Don't you get it? Your response is analogous to someone saying, "Music CDs are not 'free', because I'm not allowed to rip them to MP3 and give them to my friends," and you responding "You're perfectly free to not buy the CDs, and to make your own music."

          Just because you happen to agree with the agenda in the GPL doesn't mean you can deny that the agenda exists.

          The original poster is correct. If I am not free to use your software however I want, including closing up my derived source and selling the whole she-bang, then it is not truly "free."
      • by Alsee (515537) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @04:38AM (#8857997) Homepage
        How free is code that I can't use unless I want to give away my sofware, mo matter how little a part the GPLd software is?

        I have one question for you:
        What do you think would happen if you included a "little part" of Microsoft code?

        *ALL* copyright is viral. If you use even a single line of Microsoft code you are infected by Microsoft's copyright.

        If GPL is viral then Microsoft is ebola. GPL code may "infect" you if you choose to use it, but Microsoft code infects and instantly kill your entire project.

        -
    • There's no forced either/or proposition here. People can dislike the GPL and not be Microsoft partisans.

      It isn't the black/white world you make it out to be.
    • If Java is GPLed, e it could not be used in an application that is not GPL compatible.

      Remember Java is a library. They'd have to go with the LGPL.

      Personally, I am a big fun of java and have been for years. I am a big fan of Open source, and have been for even longer. But I can not understand why people see the need for merging the two.

      I have serious doubts that Java would continue at its current development schedule if open sourced. Nothing is stopping open source groups from working on a free Java r

  • by BJZQ8 (644168) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:07PM (#8856118) Homepage Journal
    "Unlike GPLd software, the Java sources don't come with a viral infection clause that requires you to apply the GPL to your own code." Sheesh! I didn't know that GPL code had a virus! Call USAMRIID! I feel so dirty now...covered with...microscopic...germs. Seriously, though...I think that $2 billion has bought Microsoft a friend for life. Who says money can't buy love?
  • by Deraj DeZine (726641) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:09PM (#8856133)
    from a wow, what are they smoking! point of view

    Is that a "Wow! What are they smoking? Since when were drugs for nerds?" point of view he's talking about or perhaps a "Wow! What are they smoking? Why is their English still mostly intact?" or (most probably) "Wow! What are they smoking? Can I get that here in the States?"

    These Java supporters are really shady characters. Corrupting our youth's minds...

  • by alan_dershowitz (586542) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:11PM (#8856147)
    As for Richard Stallman's "Free but shackled: The Java trap," it's hard to know where to begin. He has his own rather peculiar definition of "free" that I think violates the First Law of Thermodynamics (energy is conserved): Developers put a huge amount of energy into creating software, and if they can't get that energy back in a way that balances, then the system falls apart.

    Art doesn't obey the first law of thermodynamics either. Some people put their whole life, unrecognized, into creating art, and when they are long gone, their work is still with us. COMPENSATION and BUSINESS obey the 1st law of thermodynamics, but that is by no means the only driving force behind people.

    • Actually.. I think artists get a lot out of putting effort into their work. It may not be money. But they do get a satisfaction in doing the work and completing it and sharing it with the world. (At least I do when I work on my art.)

      Or sometimes it is purely personal, and they only do it to please themselves. So it isn't a one way thing where they put in all this energy to create and get nothing in return.

      I really do believe that there is a return of some sort on every action that is taken by any one per
  • by Karma Sucks (127136) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:16PM (#8856182)
    Here's a link [sun.com] to Sun's patent grant for the full Java.

    So Java seems to be less encumbered than .Net at this point.

    • While that's a lot more definitive than any of the patent grant stuff I've read relating to the ECMA C# and CLI standards [hp.com] it still isn't Free Software or probably even Open Source friendly.

      Notably the fact that the patent grant only applies for implementations that:
      • include a complete implementation of the current version of this specification without subsetting or supersetting;
      • implement all the interfaces and functionality of the required packages of the Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition, as defined b
  • by Grydon (663288) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:26PM (#8856242)
    We have not sold our soul to the Dark Side. certainly not. oh by the way do you know any good ways to get the windows logos off of our foreheads?
  • by Virtucon (127420) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:26PM (#8856250)
    The debate between the GPL folks and Java folks will go on for quite awhile, the big point here is that IBM has more people working on Java and Java based solutions that Sun. Sun has lost the momentum in the Java arena in some areas. Yes the JSR process does produce standards, but IMO If I look at technologies like J2ME, the industry is still fragmented. You may be able to build J2SE applications and run them on Windows, Linux, Solaris or what have you and have a reasonable expectation of WORA however J2ME isn't there, after 3 years. So, putting WORA aside the fragmentation in J2ME even with Palm demonstrates that Java becomes a utilitarian application delivery infrastructure that may or may not be ubiquitious.
    Palm and Sun had differences of J2ME, Palm works with IBM and viola, J2ME for Palm the way palm wanted it, not Sun.

    So, from a technology High Ground, Sun doesn't control Java explicitly, and that's a good thing. Sun's controls on Java do make sense as Gosling pointed out however let's not forget the J2EE 1.2 specification that was held up by a voting member because of EJB 2.0 compliance issues. In this case the JSR voting member had a conflict with voting on the spec while their product didn't adhere to it. So, EJB 2.0 gets held up, which holds up J2EE 1.2. That happened and the company's initials have a B in them, but it's not IBM.

    So, while the JSR process isn't perfect, the thought that vendors are most of the JSR participants isn't all bad, unless a log jam occurs. Maybe someday J2ME will be as ubiquitious as J2SE, J2EE isn't quite there yet, but getting there. Let's also not forget the whole JBoss issue, but that's another thread.

  • Hillarious! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jonathan (5011) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:34PM (#8856298) Homepage
    Gosling really has his head in the sand in regard to the future of Sun by claiming that Sun is platform neutral and has nothing to fear from x86. Sun makes its money by selling Sparc workstations. Simply claiming that Sun isn't tied to a hardware architecture is just silly. Yes, it has made software for the x86, but like Apple, Sun is a hardware company -- all the software (including Java) exists simply to sell hardware. What happens when people realize that Sparcs no longer have the price/performance ratio?
  • There are voices of reason, and conspiracy nuts.

    Show me a "voice of reason" regarding business deals with MacroShaft, and I'll show you someone who's been in a cave since the mid-80's. Some of us are "conspiracy nuts" only because we've seen too many kicked there so often by The Monopoly.

    = 9J =

  • by divec (48748) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:43PM (#8856358) Homepage
    James Gosling writes:
    Our [...] commitment to Java is very strong. [...] Java is most definitely not for sale. Not to IBM, not to anyone. [...] GPL software is not "free": it comes with a license that has a strong political agenda. [...] the [licence] for the JDK [has] a different catch: redistribution requires compatibility testing.


    I'm sure James Gosling only wants Java to flourish. But the big catch about the JDK's licence (SCSL) is that it gives Sun a Nuclear Button. Sun has the power to force the Java platform's development to go only in directions they approve. And however pure their intentions are, as a public company they have a legal duty to use that power in a way that makes the most money for their shareholders. If it is ever more profitable to kill Java, for Microsoft cash, say, then Sun will be legally obliged to do it.

    Compare this to Perl or Python, where there is no Nuclear Button. No-one has the power to prohibit derivatives. And so Perl and Python developers have a much more concrete guarantee that those languages will still be living languages in 20 years' time. Meanwhile there's no sign of the "fragmentation problem" which James Gosling argues they ought to suffer from being truly Open-Source.
  • by NZheretic (23872) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @10:44PM (#8856364) Homepage Journal
    In my opinion, the settlement may be a 'Very Good Thing', but not for Sun, or Sun's customers [linuxworld.com].

    Sun's signing into Microsoft's Communications Protocol Program locks Sun and Sun customers into interoperating with any Microsoft system on Microsoft's strict terms, conditions and royalty rates. It also denies the possibility that the code using those Microsoft protocols will ever be open sourced.

    This raises serous questions. For example, how much longer will Sun be free to distribute and integrate SAMBA with the Java Desktop? Will Sun's signing of the MCPP have a network affect on vendors who have access to Sun's source code -- will they also be forced to sign up to the MCPP?

    I understand Sun's attempt to spin "Peace in our time" into "This Was Their Finest Hour" [java.net]however, if you look where the quote originated from...

    What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."

    British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, on June 18, 1940, at the House of Commons
    We can be truly thankful that Churchill's next action was not to sign a treaty with Hitler, accepting gold looted from occupied states as payment for damages done.
  • by daves (23318)
    This reminds me of the many times ESR defended [lwn.net]VA Linux, on his way to becoming rich [lwn.net] and then normal again.
  • Gosling or Joy? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    From the article:

    Dr. James Gosling is a Sun Microsystems fellow who managed the group that created Java in the early 1990s.

    Who is the creator of Java?
    Everyone knows it is Gosling, but for some reason Sun would have you believe Bill Joy did it. Why? Sun only acknowledges that Gosling managed those who created Java. So did Gosling manage Bill Joy as well? This makes no sense. If a wookie lives on Endor you must acquit.
  • Freedom (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HRbnjR (12398) <chris@hubick.com> on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:11PM (#8856583) Homepage
    I don't think Gosling understands Free Software at all.

    He responds to Stallman by saying:
    a) The GPL is not free, it has a strong political agenda.
    b) Java is free in many respects (you don't pay to use the JVM, you can see the source). Java sources don't have a viral licence like the GPL.
    c) Giving freedom to JVM 'implementors' would be damaging to JVM 'users' (Java developers).

    I will tackle these in turn:

    a) Gosling implies the FSF has a 'hidden' political agenda. Their agenda is about as far from hidden as I can imagine - I don't think he has read any of the documents on the FSF web site. If you don't think the GPL promotes more freedom than, say, the Java licence, you have an extremely simplistic view of freedom. The political agenda is that the GPL strongly tries to promote a whole world of free software - and if you don't necessarily always agree with that part of the agenda, you can do as I do and use the LGPL or BSD licences. The main point is, if you currently want to ship a product based on Sun's JVM code, you need to licence the code from them to do that. If that code were GPL, it would give all of us freedom to work with the code, but possibly mean many users would no longer need to pay to licence the code from Sun (their fear) - unless of course they didn't want to give away their modifications, in which case they would be in *exactly the same* position they are in now, and could continue to pay Sun for a licence with different terms.

    b) Gosling switches from Free(dom) Software to free(beer) (Open Source) software. I can use Internet Explorer for free too, but it certainly isn't Free Software. Stallman is most definitely talking about Freedom. I don't care if I can *see* the source code, the issue is, what can I *do* with that code. The Java licence gives me a *lot* less Freedom than the GPL in that regard. Goslings response has no value for the many of us who don't care too much for the Open Source movement.

    c) You already have a licensing program for the term "Java" and associated logos and trademarks - we aren't asking you to give those away. As a Java developer, I would still like to see the guarantees of a licensing program - do like every other industry does and say "if you don't see logo X, you aren't getting 'Java'". If you make the JVM implementation Free Software, it doesn't mean you have to let everyone label their products built on that code as 'Java'. And as for any protections for users/developers, this is a myth anyhow. Look at the SWT toolkit (used to build Eclipse) for an example - what happens if it takes off in popularity (it's going that way), what protections do you have then? None.

    And although not mentioned, most developers from the Free Sofware world will also view Java Community Process as a farce as well. Look at the lobbying Apache had to do recently to be allowed to implement JCP specs for one example of how this process does nothing to guarantee our Freedom. (I also fail to understand the communities abhorrent reaction to the W3C patent policy discussions, yet the seeming acceptance of many for the JCP.)

    Moving into the information age, it is my view that the foundation technology we build our word around should not ultimately be under the control of any single group or corporation. Using Free Software provides me with a number of guarantees that the programs/code I use will always be there for me, and that I will always have the freedom to use, modify, and rely on those for myself or my business. Java, as provided by Sun, does not have those guarantees.
    • Re:Freedom (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ed__ (23481) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:22PM (#8856651) Journal
      i think you're taking his comments out of context to make your inferences.

      he states that both GPL and Java licenses are free in different senses, that they have different (not hidden) agendas, and that they have different 'catches' (re-release source for GPL, and compat testing for Java).

      he has an opinion; it clearly isn't yours, but he seemed fair about it.

      cheers

  • by voodoo1man (594237) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @12:17AM (#8856975)
    Heehee, time to dish out some dirt!

    Some of you may know this already, but for those who don't, RMS and James Gosling had a feud in the 80s over Gosling's Emacs (which was a TECO Emacs workalike). Apparently, there were agreements between Gosling and several other developers to the effect that they could modify and redistribute the source to Gosling's Emacs. RMS decided to base the original GNU Emacs on Gosling's code. Apparently, this happened after Gosling decided to sell the rights to his Emacs clone to Unipress, and bitter legal threats ensued. This seems to have been one of the primary motivations for the GPL. I've never seen Gosling speak or write about the incident since. RMS gave a speech [gnu.org] in 1986 where he recounted the incident, and he didn't have a lot of good things to say about Gosling:

    "In the summer of that year, about two years ago now, a friend of mine told me that because of his work in early development of Gosling Emacs, he had permission from Gosling in a message he had been sent to distribute his version of that. Gosling originally had set up his Emacs and distributed it free and gotten many people to help develop it, under the expectation based on Gosling's own words in his own manual that he was going to follow the same spirit that I started with the original Emacs. Then he stabbed everyone in the back by putting copyrights on it, making people promise not to redistribute it and then selling it to a software-house. My later dealings with him personally showed that he was every bit as cowardly and despicable as you would expect from that history."

    That speech also has a few memorable quotes, and I highly recommend you read it. I haven't heard or read RMS referring to Gosling personally since, but I believe that the incident itself has been recalled by him a few times since.

    Now for my part of the disclosure: I currently attend the University of Calgary, where James Gosling is the only persona anywhere near to fame that the Computer Science department has ever produced (Theo de Raadt doesn't count, unless your definition of "produce" involves scandal and legal threats).

    The above is mostly just hearsay and speculation, and should not be taken as authoritative, except the excerpt from RMS's speech.

  • the JAVA licence (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jonwil (467024) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @01:29AM (#8857400)
    I think the best way to satify everyone (including SUN, those who want to develop JAVA itself and those who want to develop on top of JAVA) is to allow anyone to implement the various JAVA standards (including whatever sun may have a patent on etc) for free with no restictions. But, if they want to call whatever it is that they have made "JAVA", it has to go through the compatibility tests.

    That way:
    A.developers developing stuff in the JAVA language and against the JAVA APIs can do so and know that their stuff will run on anything labeled "JAVA".
    B.developers that want to write JAVA compilers, VMs, class libraries and whatever else (including modified versions of Suns stuff) can do so totally free from any restrictions. But they cant call what they release "JAVA" unless it has gone through the compatibility tests.
    and C.Sun retains control over the JAVA name and the JAVA system. The fears of sun that JAVA would fragment and you would get incompatible versions of JAVA wouldnt happen because anything that hasnt passed the tests is not JAVA and cant be labeled as such.

    Also, those who want to repackage the Sun stuff without modifying it (i.e. repackage in ) can do so and you wouldnt need to do the different, wierd (compared to how things are normally installed) install for JAVA anymore.

    Oh and Sun should have told MS they couldnt distribute, modify, fix or support their broken JAVA VM anymore.
    • by RdsArts (667685)
      That's what they do.

      That's why a patch set for Java's sources was in the FreeBSD ports forever, yet everyone says 'freebsd didn't have Java.' There was no binary distribution of that possible because it hadn't passed through Sun yet.

      The Java specs are available for the most part. The only problem is no one knows what the tests for Java compliance are, but anyone with the cash can send software to take them and be able to be called 'Java.' Other then that, everything you asked for in your post is already t
  • by The OPTiCIAN (8190) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @02:20AM (#8857606)
    How disrespectful of Gosling to accuse us of smoking drugs for being concerned for the fate of our platform. We invest time and energy developing our skills in Java and we make personal calls on things at work in favour of their platform. Given Sun's poor decisions regarding how open the platform should be we have every right to be jumpy when they make a legal settlement with Microsoft and then fail to reiterate their support for the Microsoft's prime target (the java platform).

    Some of the comments were extreme, but position papers like these should not need to be a reaction to community concern, they should anticipate it.
  • by bfg9000 (726447) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @09:10AM (#8858901) Homepage Journal
    Sun sells out to Microsoft; a few days later a famous Sun celebrity issues a statement that they *haven't* sold out. Typical spin and damage control. I can almost see Ballmer's hand up Gosling's ass and moving his mouth for him like he was Oscar the Grouch.

    Let their actions, and the result of those actions, speak for themselves -- NOT this MS-Approved sermon on the mount. Basic Fact: Sun and Microsoft are in bed together... just looking at history, Microsoft and ANYBODY in bed together is bad for Open Source and Free Software. And this is probably bad for Apple, too.

    But overall, nice work from Keep-It-Closed-Gosling in trying to turn the FOSS community against itself again.

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