Various constituencies have been nagging Sun Microsystems to open-source the Java platform since almost the day it was launched. Former CEO and current chairman Scott McNealy had resisted for a long time, challenging IBM to open-source DB2 when IBM execs chided Sun on the open source issue. Then Sun created its own open-source license — CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License)–and used it for the Solaris OS and for Glassfish, an implementation of Java Enterprise Edition. and Jonathan Schwartz promised Java would follow Solaris into the open world.
And now, Sun has delivered–the entire Java family has been open-sourced under the GNU Public License version 2.0. That means that Java can now live peacefully with other software distributions that fall under the GPL, such as Linux, without barriers to free redistribution.
The first thing this means to the channel is that resellers, integrators and ISVs can now build fully-blessed Java applications and integration software without royalties. Sun is still providing for a commercial license of Java that provides indemnification for customers, but having the entire code base in GPL open source means that people can develop new mobile, desktop and server applications and distribute them–and that open-source projects based on the GPL can incorporate Java into their code without legal fears.