May 10 2007
At one time, Java seemed unbeatable. It was the language which would replace C++ in many areas and it would be the premiere language for web development. This, however, did not happen due to poor marketing by Sun and aggressive marketing by Microsoft with their own development tools.
Yesterday at the JavaOne Conference, Sun announced OpenJDK. This is an open source version of Java which will be distributed under the GPL license. There are some parts of the code which came from sources outside of Sun and cannot be distributed under the open source license. Sun chose to include the binaries with OpenJDK, but Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation would like to liberate Java from this proprietary code:
“Only one last obstacle remains in liberating JDK and disarming the Java trap completely: some nonfree, legally encumbered code. The free-software community and Sun must work together to replace that code with free software.”
What’s included in OpenJDK? You get the compiler, virtual machines, and class libraries. Eventually the entire development tool will be open source when the proprietary code is re-written.
An open source Java may regain the market share that Sun has lost over the years. They currently hold a dominant position in cell phones, but even this is threatened by Windows CE and Symbian OS. Sun’s new initiative may bring to reality it’s original vision of the wide spread use of Java.