Friday, March 20, 2009

Sun CTO Details Progress of Open-source Java

Sun Microsystems Inc. last week unveiled a portal that will detail its efforts to make its Java programming language available as open-source code. After the announcement, Bob Brewin, Sun's chief technology officer for software, talked to Computerworld about the state of the company's effort to make Java SE (Standard Edition) code available to the open-source community.

What is the goal for the new portal? The goal for the portal is transparency. We want to make sure that this is not just open-source, but an open community. There have been open-source projects in the past industrywide where it is just, "Here is our source, do what you want." The only way we can do that is to really engage the existing open-source communities out there and ask them for their advice, guidance and opinions.

Where does the effort to open the source code of Java stand today? We are currently planning to release significant pieces of our functionality in the fall. A Java programming compiler and the HotSpot Virtual Machine are examples. As we make sure the source is ready to go ... we'll begin releasing code over a period of time until we get the entire body out there.

What types of problems have you encountered so far in this effort? Identifying the various intellectual property encumbrances that might exist. An example is, within the graphics library, there are font rasterizers which allow you to represent characters on the screen. We have licensed those from other companies. We may ship other parts of the platform as open-source, and [the rasterizer] will ship as a binary. Once Java is open-sourced, the ideal situation is the community can help us create a replacement technology for it by developing it in open-source.

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