IBM urges Sun: make Java open source

IBM has sent an open letter to Sun Microsystems urging them to make Java open source.

In a letter, sent by IBM’s vice president of emerging technology Rob Smith, IBM offered to provide technical resources and code for the open source Java implementation. Sun would provide the relevant documentation on Java and the tests on its specifications.

Making Java open source would fuel the growth, diversification and implementation of Java software, particularly in conjunction with other open source initiatives, said Smith.

“Sun’s strong commitment to open source Java would speed the development of a first-class and compatible open source Java implementation to the benefit to our customers and the industry,” he told Sun vice president Rob Gringell. “We are firmly convinced the open source community would rally around this effort.”

A Java open source model would also help rally Java-centric vendors against the increasing might of Microsoft, particularly when the technology is combined with the open source operating system Linux.

IBM invests heavily in Java and its Java-based products, particularly the WebSphere application server and associated tools, enjoy significant market share.

The hardware, software and services giant has apparently been urging Sun to make Java open source for many years, but it is only now, with the heightened interest in open source, that discussions may actually persuade Sun to fully embrace the ideas.

“Our hope is that there will be some discussion out in the open so that it becomes a serious possibility,” said Bob Sutor, director for WebSphere infrastructure at IBM, adding that the IT giant is open to a wide range of possibilities.

Some open source Java application servers and tools already exist, but not without friction between Sun and their creators. IBM hopes to submit portions of Java technology at a time, such as the Java Runtime environment, code libraries or even server software, with the ultimate goal of creating an official open source version of Java.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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