Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Open Source Java; What does this mean?

I was at JavaOne earlier this year, when Jonathan Swartz asked whether Java would be open sourced. The following revelation that Java would be open sourced, and that it was not a matter of whether anymore, but a matter of how.

This was the buzz of the first day, and I have continued to watch this unfold. Recently, I read some stories that said that Sun would be ready to open source Java in months. Now, this is a pretty broad declaration, and they could go as long as 11 months, without having to retract that statement, but still, they seem to be moving down the track as they said they would.

What does this really mean for all of us involved with Java?

I have always been a proponent of the open sourcing of Java. My main complaint has always been that certain JVM bugs just never get fixed. I would love to have the "freedom", and be empowered to fix those bugs in an completely open process. There have been many studies and comparisons of the quality, in terms of defect density, between closed source and open source software. All of them draw the same conclusions. Open source software has less defects, and is more reliable then closed source software. It's pretty simple. I want less defects, and a more reliable virtual machine, and we will get that via the open source development model.

Are there other benefits to this?

I once heard Bill Joy, former Sun employee and co-founder, say that innovation happens out there. What he meant by that, at least my interpretation, is that companies cannot be insular, and they have to realize that innovation happens in the broader market, and one company, no matter how big, can innovate solely on their own. With that in mind, opening up Java to the world, can only create additional innovation in and around the Java platform.

In fact, I believe it will accelerate the delivery of innovation for the Java platform in a way that cannot even be fully understood today. Only many years down the road, will we be able to look backward and realize the monumental changes that came from this.

I am really hopeful about the open sourcing of Java, and its benefits to all of us that use it and depend on it. I only hope that months, is really just a few short months time. The sooner the better!

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