One giant leap, two small steps

It’s been a long time coming.

Sun is open-sourcing its entire Java stack—ME, SE, and EE—under the GNU General Public License, version 2.

The license choice—which has taken many by surprise (gotcha!)—is a giant leap. For more on the big picture, including a link to tomorrow’s webcast announcement, please see

For the JDK we’ve taken two small steps with this announcement:

  • We’ve released two key components of the JDK into open source: The Java programming-language compiler (javac) and the HotSpot virtual machine. The rest of the JDK, modulo encumbrances, will follow in the first half of 2007.
  • We’ve created the OpenJDK project on to host the code for these components and the foundation for the community around them. This project is part of the new OpenJDK Community.

These may be two small steps in the big picture, but they sure seem giant to us. We know we’re not going to get everything right the first time, so please do let us know what we’re doing wrong and how we could do better.

Thanks Taking just these two small steps has been a tremendous amount of work over the last six months. I’d like to thank those members of the open-source Java community who so generously offered their advice and wisdom to us during that time—it was a huge help. I’d also like to thank my partners in crime at Sun, Ray Gans and Rich Sands, as well as the whole OpenJDK team, for working so hard under such intense pressure to get all of this stuff done in time.

What comes next? Now that we have these two steps behind us my own primary focus over the next six months or so will be in two main areas:

  • Governance For now we’re using an interim governance model in which Sun engineers act as proxies for non-Sun contributors, but in the long term we want to have non-Sun committers. What’s the best open governance model for a project whose primary goals are to continue to evolve the platform while also shipping high-quality, fully compatible releases in a timely fashion?
  • Infrastructure Our tools and processes are specific to Sun and must be adapted for open development. We’ve chosen to go with Mercurial for source-code management, but we still need to figure out how to open up the bug/RFE database, our process tools, and our development process itself.

So it continues. Watch this space, among others, for updates, opinions, and questions, and don’t be shy about letting us know what you think.

Warning: Many of the links in this entry will not be live until 6:00am PST tomorrow, Monday 13 November.

Freakin awesome!

Posted by Stewart Smith on November 12, 2006 at 01:57 PM PST #

I had heard rumors that it might be the GPL, and I didn't believe it! Thank you, Sun, for this very generous contribution, and for making such a good choice in the license! I've been waiting for this day for years.

Posted by John Neffenger on November 12, 2006 at 05:00 PM PST #


Yep, using the GPL is a blindsider. I still think GPL brings too much of its own politics and fuzzy-thinking baggage with it, but if the aim is to make Linux distribution easy then the GPL seems like a good plan.

(I wonder how RMS feels about GPLed Java? %\^>)

Well done.



Posted by Damon Hart-Davis on November 12, 2006 at 07:23 PM PST #

Great move

Posted by David Benson on November 12, 2006 at 07:46 PM PST #

Does this mean, I have to disclose my sources, as I'm using Java as scripting language for my program and therefore a linked JavaVM. As I understand the GPL, linking a GPLd lib obliges me to disclose my sources. Otherwise the lib needs to be under LGPL.

Posted by Jens Wilken on November 12, 2006 at 08:23 PM PST #

Well done! Yes indeed these are two important small steps on a bigger, longer road. I look forward to the day when we can build an entire SUN Java development environment entirely from Free source. Very exciting! Good luck with the rest of the process. Cheers!

Posted by Eric Herman on November 12, 2006 at 08:44 PM PST #

Finally Java is really free. That's good news for us all. Thanks, SUN!

BTW, Damon: Richard M. Stallman most probably feels just fine. After all he has long enough fought for exactly this to happen. So why should he feel anything but glad about SUN's decision to open Java?

Jens, if the latest news are correct, you have nothing to worry about. The license will contain a classpath-clause that allows you to distribute your work under any license you like. More details can be found here:
and here:

But to be absolutely sure about it, we have to wait fopr the official announcement.

Posted by Wolfram Rittmeyer on November 12, 2006 at 08:47 PM PST #

@Damon: well actually RMS seems pretty pleased with Sun, saying that they show leadership and are probably the world's biggest contributor to open source software. See the short video interview with him (and otehrs) here:

Posted by Quintesse on November 13, 2006 at 06:47 AM PST #

I'm just curious why Mercurial was chosen for SCM, vs. svn or cvs? It seems the trend in the open source community has shifted from cvs to svn. What are the advantages of Mercurial over SVN? Thanks.

Posted by Mark Allen on November 13, 2006 at 03:13 PM PST #

Sun needs something rather higher-level than SVN to manage their build complexity, and it has to work even more disconnected/distributed than SVN is.



Posted by Damon Hart-Davis on November 14, 2006 at 10:05 PM PST #

Finally we can fix all those bugs in the JDK that Sun has not been able to fix for years. I personally have couple of acknowledged bugs in NIO on Java Bug parade for several years that I would like to submit patches for. Why such a long delay in OpSrc'ing the JDK libraries ?

Posted by Rahul Bhargava on November 30, 2006 at 03:03 PM PST #

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