June 27, 2005 9:59 AM PDT

IBM backs Sun's Solaris, renews Java pact

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four Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices today and plans to release a new higher-end "Galaxy" line of systems later this year.

Sun has said Hewlett-Packard and IBM made strategic mistakes by not bringing their versions of Unix--HP-UX and AIX, respectively--to x86-based computers.

Most of Sun's AMD servers today use Linux. Sun Chief Executive Scott McNealy said last week he expects Solaris, Microsoft Windows, and perhaps Red Hat Enterprise Linux to be the only major survivors in the server operating system market.

A decade of Java
Java is software that lets a program run on a variety of computing devices without it having to be changed for each one. It consists of a programming language, supporting software called class files, and a package called a Java virtual machine that translates Java instructions into ones a particular computer can understand.

Java was born as a technology for consumer electronics devices, but when it publicly debuted 10 years ago, it functioned chiefly as a mechanism to add fancy elements to Web pages.

Netscape and Microsoft gave Java a boost by licensing the technology. But Microsoft, concerned that people would program to Java rather than to Windows, sold programming tools that created Java that would only run on Windows computers, leading to a long-running legal battle only resolved in 2004 with a $1.95 billion payment to Sun.

As it turned out, Java has been more popular further away from Microsoft's desktop computing stronghold. It caught on first in a version for servers, called Enterprise Edition, and for gadgets such as cell phones in a version called Mobile Edition.

Sun long has faced control issues related to Java. Although many other companies share in its development, the company abandoned a plan to make Java a formal standard. Facing criticism from IBM and open-source fans, Sun began releasing significant pieces this week as open-source software through a project called GlassFish.

Sun plans to release Java under the same license that governs OpenSolaris: the Community Development and Distribution License.

"You will see us prefer to use the CDDL for many of the Java components," said John Loiacono, Sun's executive vice president of software. "We're not opposed to using the GPL or BSD (licenses), but we chose CDDL for a variety of reasons. We believe it's the most flexible and appropriate for allowing you, the developer community, to intermingle code. It also allows for patent protection and full indemnification."

Sun also made a more superficial change to Java on Monday. As expected, it dropped the "2" in its Java 2 Enterprise Edition, Standard Edition and Mobile Edition versions. Future versions of those products will be called Java EE, Java SE and Java ME, respectively.

Java SE 6, the version code-named Mustang and geared for desktop computers, is scheduled to arrive in the summer of 2006, Sun said. And Java SE 7, code-named Dolphin, is scheduled to arrive in early 2008.

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Open-Source OS/2 Warp!
In that this move might have indeed signal a measure of detente between Sun and IBM and the companies being fierce rivals when it comes to the powerful networked computers called servers... with IBM'a OS/2 Warp Operating System reputedly being the OS with the best Java Virtual Machine (JVM) it might be interesting to see if IBM moves OS/2 Warp to an open-source project in the same way it has been asking its rivals such as Sun Micro Systems to open-source some of their products!

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