Tuesday Mar 06, 2007

Getting OpenJDK a JCK

One of the questions that has kept coming up at events considering OpenJDK and its use of the GPL (most recently at FOSDEM) is how the compatibility tests - the JCK - will be made available to the OpenJDK community. I keep pressing for answers on this one and while Sun is still thinking it through, there are a few general principles that will be true:

  • Sun will keep testing the OpenJDK code base against the appropriate JCK as it builds Sun's JDK product distribution. That means the code will be maintained in a ready-for-compatibility-testing state.
  • Because we're starting from that known-compatible code, it's easier for others to test for compatibility. Sun will make a JCK easily available to community members. That way the OpenJDK community can be sure things built under the GPL are actually compatible with the specs.
  • We'll also find a way to make it clear how communities can use the word "Java" to describe this code. We expect people will want to use Duke as the logo - that's why we open sourced him too! For companies that want to use the "cup and steam" logo (and the term "Java" in the usual commercial usages), the fastest and simplest path to gain the right to use them on an implementation will be to start from the OpenJDK code base, or from Sun's licensed product sources (the same code, different licenses).
  • For people who want to start from codebases other than OpenJDK, the existing JCK processes (and their associated scholarship schemes) will remain in place. OpenJDK isn't about taking anything away; it's about adding new options and evolving the next stage of the Java environment.

This is still a work in progress, but we know how important compatibility is to the free and open source Java software community. Sun is committed to making sure that there is a clear path forward for OpenJDK-based implementations to test for Java compatibility.

I've also no doubt that we're likely to make mistakes as we work things through, especially as our business models around Java things evolve. Apologies in advance, help us fix them as they show up. But we're confident that with the GPL, OpenJDK will succeed in creating an exciting community in which innovation stays in the open. I'm confident this will create opportunities for both businesses and developers that otherwise wouldn't happen and at the same time protect everyone's freedoms.

Monday Mar 05, 2007

Open Source Java Gaming

My colleague Chris Mellisinos is a busy guy, what with his video podcasts and the number of games I know he plays. But he's found time to make the Project Darkstar technology he's been working on open source. In the words of the project web site:

The first technology release under this project, the Sun(tm) Game Server, is a game agnostic, platform agnostic server technology that provides online game developers the ability to create a wide variety of games that can be provisioned through a single server platform. From mobile to desktop, online game development is about to change forever.

I gather it will be released under the GPL in a month or so , giving Java developers a whole new arena to program. Pretty cool stuff.

Wednesday Feb 21, 2007

Almost-Sir James Gosling

Scanning my news feeds just now I spotted the fact that James Gosling has been named an Officer of the Order of Canada. Tim Bray's view as a fellow Canadian is that this is the first appointment of a programmer to the Order, and a welcome change from honouring people famous just for being famous. James is one of the nicest geeks I know on the planet and I am delighted that he's been honoured with Canada's equivalent of a knighthood. Congratulations, James!

Friday Feb 16, 2007

Open Source JSF With AJAX

I'm pleased to say that Sun has released another project into the open source community this week. Project Woodstock provides a range of components for Java Server Faces, and there is AJAX support included. Worth taking a look at the samples if you're a web developer.

Thursday Feb 15, 2007

JavaOne Saves 111 Trees

I was just alerted to the availability of the first JavaOne mailshot. If you've ever been to JavaOne you'll be expecting your nice, glossy brochure through the mail about now. Well, the JavaOne team has decided that it would be more environmentally responsible to make it a virtual mailshot, so they have instead issued a PDF of the brochure and asked us all to pass the word around. This move has some great consequences; from an e-mail I just received:

By producing this piece virtually, the Eco group has calculated the savings made as follows:
  • Assuming (based on last year) the brochure is equivalent to 2.5 pages of 0% recycled copy paper
  • Total paper saved = 4.63 tons
  • Greenhouse Gases reduced (CO2 equivalents) = 13 tons (26,297 lbs)
  • Reduction in wood use = 13 tons
  • # of trees saved (assuming 1 tree makes 16.67 reams of copy paper or 8,333.3 sheets) = 111
  • Reduction in wastewater (and associated water pollution) = 78,616 gallons (equivalent to 838K cans of soda)
  • Reduction in solid waste (stuff sent to landfills) = 5.1 tons

I was also fascinated to see details of some of the sessions that have been accepted, including (on page 6) the session on Apache Harmony that Tim Ellison and Geir Magnusson will be giving as part of the new Open Source Track, as well as (on page 8) the Java Libre panel. This could be a very interesting JavaOne!

Friday Jan 12, 2007

New programming language launched

Beaumaris Castle

I'm pleased to say that the research group working on programming languages at Sun has taken the step of open sourcing the first release of their new programming language, Fortress. We debated the license to use for the language and settled on using BSD, a permissive class A license, so that the widest possible community - Free software people, academics and commercial researchers - would be free to co-evolve the language and its implementation with us.

Fortress is not for everyone. It's designed with high-performance computing (read: grid) in mind, and to quote the FAQ:

Fortress is a new language. Although many of its features are inspired by existing languages, it isn't an extension of any of them. Syntactically, many Fortress expressions closely resemble mathematical notation.
But by releasing it with full source code on day one, I hope that the widest possible community will be able to form around it and make it into all it can be.

Thursday Jan 04, 2007

"Java Get Powered" Now Easy

Java Get Powered

You may remember when Sun introduced the "Java Get Powered" button for people to use on their web sites, there was some criticism of the Byzantine process that was required to actually get to use it. I shared the view that the process needed fixing (as well as being grateful to the Sun blogger willing to criticise his employers for something deserving criticism).

I'm delighted to say that, after much soul-searching by Sun's lawyers, it's been fixed. No more quizzes, no more auto-responses with passwords, simply cut & paste the code to show your affinity for Java technology or direct your visitors to download the latest desktop Java. What's left is the minimum legal agreement that is feasible for a brand you actually want to protect. I'll be writing about brands and communities at some point since this is a subject that's widely misunderstood.

Sunday Dec 24, 2006

Happy Christmas!

Holly and Berries

In a move that seems a rarity for 2006, I am actually at home today with my family in Southampton celebrating Christmas. It's been an amazing year and I am truly thankful of the privilege of being in charge of Sun's Free and Open Source software strategy in the year that both SPARC and the Java platform were liberated. It's left me exhausted so I am not too much fun to be around, but everyone else is bouncing with energy so no-one will notice!

I hope the holiday season proves refreshing and joyful for you! If you feel need for some perspective, Minitaure Earth can provide all you need.

Wednesday Dec 13, 2006

JavaOne Open Source Track

This is the last week for paper submissions for JavaOne. Something you may not have noticed is there is a new track this year:

Open Source and Community Development

Open source initiatives, empowered by wide-scale sharing and participation, are transforming business models and leading the pace of innovation. Why? Because it offers freedom to every user and developer by encouraging genuinely collaborative innovation. The open source model offers an entirely new way for developers to collaborate and build upon the best of the commons. The result: open source is reaping tremendous leaps in innovation, and standards-based, interoperable solutions.

We are looking for submissions on the following topics:

  • Free/Open Source Java
  • OpenSolaris
  • GNU/Linux
  • OpenOffice
  • mySQL & PostgreSQL
  • Apache Derby

Get those session proposals in right now! Given a decent range of proposals I'll put something creative together. I'd also like to hear from any FOSS community that is planning a casual meeting in San Francisco the same week as JavaOne, so we can collaborate.

Monday Dec 11, 2006

JDK 6 Packages Available For GNU/Linux

Java SE 6 was launched this morning. This afternoon, the install bundles for Debian-based GNU/Linux systems were made available. Huge congratulations to Tom Marble, who I know has worked very hard to make this happen the same day as the release (so hard he's not got round to any blogging while he's been doing it).

Sunday Dec 10, 2006

Java SE 6 Launched in London

I'm in the minimalist splendour of the St Martin's Lane Hotel in London today attending the launch of Java SE 6. Mark can tell you all the details, but what stands out to me is the emphasis of the developer support service. For the next 60 days, developers can try the support service free of charge to help their migration to the Java 6 platform. More importantly, the range of support services on software from Sun is growing - OpenOffice.org, NetBeans, now Java 6. It's not the only way we'll be monetising our engagement in FOSS, but you can see the trend.

Thursday Nov 30, 2006

Will Sun Use GPLv3?

Some people have been throwing rocks at the GPLv3 process from outside, and others have been accusing Sun of joining the rock throwers by opting for GPL v2 for the Java platform. Here's why I disagree with both.[Read More]

Wednesday Nov 29, 2006

First Time in Second Life

The reactions to Sun's announcements about the Java platform moving to GPL produced a deep amazement in many people. A crowd had gathered waiting for the news, and there were definitely critics waiting to find fault. When we actually announced the news, it turned out we had gone further than anyone expected.

In fact, apart from the odd voice of self-interest (from what others call "strip miners"), the only serious criticism was over holding one of the events on the announcement day as a "virtual" Q & A in Second Life. ZDNet newbie Larry Dignan was pretty harsh, for example. To be honest, if that's all people can find to criticise them I'm pretty happy!

Having said that, and being like Tim a teachable sceptic of the value of Second Life, I actually thought it was a pretty good thing to do. Despite what this comedy writer said:

Sun, of all companies, recently hosted a Java developer Q&A in Second Life. No Web cast, no conference calls, no live forum. If you wanted to participate, you had to become a Second Life resident.
(and Larry implied), there was plenty of opportunity for engagement. We briefed press all over the world, provided a press release translated to local language, had press at the launch event, held an IRC chat which was so heavily attended it was almost unmanageable, wrote blogs and responded to comments - and so on. The Second Life event was an experiment, and just one part of the overall picture.

Moving on from the ephemeral and the complaints of those outraged by the new, was the content any good? Well, I didn't find the immersive environment added anything much to the experience, but the content was actually very good indeed. Floyd has a good summary of what went on and you can listen to the audio recording too. True, it was amusing to see the penguin cruising around the auditorium, and guessing which avatar was which person was fun too, but the questions were good and so - even though I say so myself - were the answers. If that's the quality we'll get every time I want more, break-dancers or not..

Overall, I think this was a good thing to do. I think we'll see more use of immersive collaboration spaces to augment more traditional communications, so this was an interesting experience. It got plenty of coverage and brought the OpenJDK news to more people than would have heard otherwise. And best of all, despite all the straight-laced tut-tutting, it was actually pretty good fun.

Wednesday Nov 22, 2006


Today is pretty quiet for me here in the UK, and I am thankful that the US is celebrating Thanksgiving. I spent a couple of days in Milan at the start of the week where I gave a talk at the new Open Source Business Academy event that was held there. I was able to include an open source status slide for Sun's Java implementations for the first time - something I am especially thankful for!

If one could earn US citizenship by collecting US stamps in one's passport I would almost certainly have done so by now, so it's in order to thank a few people (nowhere near everybody I should, I have so many people to thank) in connection with the Free Java platform progress we've made! I'd like to recognise the huge help that Geir, Dalibor and Mark generously gave and continue to give me over OpenJDK and much else. A huge thank-you to my excellent and wonderful team, the best I've worked with in a decade. And warm, loving gratitude to my family for putting up with the time away that was necessary over the last two months.


Thoughts and pointers on digital freedoms and technology markets. With a few photos too.


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