Sun Microsystems' move to make its core Java software a true open-source project may still be a project in its early stages, but on Monday the effort produced some concrete results: a partnership with long-time holdout Red Hat.
The top Linux seller announced Monday that it's signed an OpenJDK Community agreement, a move that gives it access to the Sun compatibility kit that can be used to ensure a Java software foundation meets requirements to properly run Java software. Although Java has caught on widely in the server market--Red Hat's core customer base--Red Hat shied away from tight Java ties and sometimes criticized Sun for its earlier semi-proprietary Java ways.
Now they companies are best of pals. "Red Hat fully supports Sun's courageous decision to open source Java technology. After more than 10 years of continuous leadership, the Java technology ecosystem will enter an era of accelerated innovation and benefit from extreme pervasiveness on a wide range of environments," said Sacha Labourey, chief technology officer of Red Hat's JBoss division, which sells support for Java server software.
I know, I know, it sounds like the usual sort of corporate platitude you can read in countless news releases. But its sentiment carries stronger weight and authority after you compare it to this 2004 statement from Red Hat's then-CTO, Michael Tiemann (disclosure: Tiemann is now a blogger in the CNET blog network, too), directed at Jonathan Schwartz, now Sun chief executive: "You say that you love the open-source community, but how much? If you love the open-source community, you'd open source Java. If you won't open source Java, it means you don't love us, or at least you don't trust us. Why, then, should we trust you?"
The JBoss group, which Red Hat acquired in 2006, had already participated in Sun's Java development process, but only for the Java Enterprise Edition software for servers. Now the agreement extends to Java Standard Edition, which contains the core "runtime" software to actually execute Java programs. Through the deal, Red Hat will eventually deliver its own Java runtime software, the company said.
"By signing the contributor agreement, we, Red Hat and JBoss, now have the mechanism in place whereby our engineers can properly work on a wide range of Sun-sponsored open-source projects, including OpenJDK," said Shaun Connolly, vice president of product management for JBoss.