Is open source Java dead in its tracks?

by Steve Anglin

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According to, "A revealing Q&A with Sun CEO Scott McNealy appears in the August issue of Linux Magazine. By special arrangement with the publication, Open Enterprise Trends is the first online venue to bring readers portions of McNealy's conversation, where he comments on his view of two key Open Source technologies -- JBoss and Linux. In one potentially controversial segment, McNealy told the magazine he thinks some Open Source providers in Java may be "screwing up" the profit-making potential of the industry. McNealy's remarks follow only by a few weeks news that Sun reached agreement with the Apache Software Foundation to open up the Java Community Process to the Apache community and change software licensing on a number of its Apache-related JSRs."

Without more information, Scott McNealy seems to be indicating that Java, and especially the J2EE, may not be available as open source through Apache and the like. Although Apache and Sun reached an agreement only a few weeks ago, Sun's stock price fell all the way down to around $ 4.00 per share of late, which may be impacting Sun's reversal of directon. Instead of reaching out to open source, Sun is closing up to insure revenue from all primary (i.e., server sales) and secondary (i.e., Sun ONE products, JCP membership, J2EE licensing revenue/royalites, etc.) sources. Also, Scott McNeally is concerned about Microsoft and .NET, understandably so. However, sometimes when you focus too much on your competitor, you lose focus on your own endeavors.

Anyway, if it's not already too late, you should email Sun's Open Source Diva, Danese Cooper. Send her your views on why open source Java is important to the community and your organization. Make your best case. Only with thousands, tens of thousands of these can Danese use and show Sun executives including Scott the value of open source Java all-around to both Sun and the Java community. Then and only then, we may convince Sun to change its current view on open source, that seems apparent in this interview. Sun should treat Java as a programming language, not a product.

What do you think? Send Danese and O'Reilly views on this as well as your reasons for open source Java.