An Update on Open Java

We have been utterly overwhelmed by the positive response to the announcement that Sun would put Java under the GPL license. This was a complex milestone to achieve and the fact that it drew such accolades from the open source community, customers, and technology and business analysts alike is another sign that Sun has defined the right software business and technology strategy.

Since the announcement, I've realized there are a couple of points we need to clarify. First, I feel obliged to acknowledge that I misspoke during the announcement. I referred to Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, as the “father of open source.” But it's not about open source, which is a legal or contractual distinction and a means to an end. It's about freedom—for developers, systems administrators, consumers—to create and innovate with as few restrictions as possible. I believe we made that point loud and clear: The release of the first open source Java code is a means to the end of fostering new technology solutions.

Another clarification: Although almost everyone was positive about the choice of GPL—even while many were in stunned disbelief—we got a lot of questions about Sun's choice of GPL version 2, as opposed to v3. Just to be clear: v3 is in the late stages of definition and approval. It's impossible to release anything under v3 today. However, a number of folks from Sun, including Simon Phipps, are actively involved in discussions with Richard Stallman, Eben Moglen and others regarding the terms and nuances of v3. So for now, v2 is our first choice for Java but, depending on the final terms of v3, it need not be the last.

Finally, I'd like to once again publicly thank the team at Sun that has made Java so remarkably successful. The numbers continue to climb—4 billion devices of varying scale, bundled on more than 70 percent of PC desktops, 80 percent of all mobile phones. These indicators maintain a positive and improving slope. These are great folks who worked tirelessly through unbelievable complexity created by a perfect storm of challenging technology and even more challenging communities, corporations and legal issues. James Gosling and Graham Hamilton are the names most often cited. Add a few hundred more, and you're closing in on the complete list.

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