Sun extends open source approach to Java app server

Following Sun Microsystems‘s launch earlier this month of the GlassFish project, Sun Microsystems Inc. Monday used its annual JavaOne developer conference as a platform to usher in the project that lets others see the application server source


As anticipated, Sun announced it is releasing code for the Java System Server Platform Edition 9.0 and Java System Enterprise Server Bus (Java ESB) under the same license used for Sun’s OpenSolaris project, announced at last year’s conference. The open source initiative (OSI)-approved common development and distribution license (CDDL), which is based on Mozilla Public License (MPL), offers developers complete indemnification and patent protection, is integrated with NetBeans IDE, incorporates Java enterprise edition (EE) 5 and protects compatibility, according to the company.

This year’s JavaOne conference marks the tenth anniversary of the programming language. Since its creation by Canadian James Gosling, who will deliver his address Thursday, there are currently 4.5 million Java developers and 2.5 billion Java-enabled devices worldwide.

“If I had said at the first JavaOne conference that we would have 2.5 billion Java-enabled devices, I would have been hauled away in a straight jacket and put in a room with white, cushy walls,” said company chief executive officer and chairman Scott McNealy at a question and answer session following Monday’s kenote.

In his keynote, Sun president and chief operating officer Jonathan Schwartz at emphasized the social value behind technologies — from Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb to the first switch to half a million people who make their living on eBay. Schwartz went on to draw a similar comparison to free software.

“There’s no question there is a social utility to free software,” said Schwartz, giving communities around NetBeans and Firefox as examples. “It brings them on board and allows them to join. If you want to reach the broadest market in the world there’s one price that’s right to everyone: free.”

Sun started giving away the basic platform edition of its Java application server in 2003 to compete with the popularity of rival products from IBM, BEA Systems and JBoss. Despite its open source efforts, Sun has faced criticism from the developer community on its unwillingness to fully open source its software like JBoss, for example.

“In the ideal world, they would like everyone to have a single J2EE platform so there’s consistency and compatibility across all vendors whether it’s IBM or Sun, but at the same time they want control,” said Rod Charko, spokesperson at Calgary-based IceSoft Technology Inc., which develops products for J2EE clients. “They want to control distribution and the IP. You can’t have both.”

In other news, Sun also announced a new 10-year Java technology agreement with IBM, which did not have a booth at this year’s show, to license and use Java technologies from Sun through 2016.

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