October 26, 2006 12:35 PM PDT

Sun names likely license for open-source Java

SAN FRANCISCO--Sun Microsystems likely will use the Community Development and Distribution License to govern the forthcoming open-source Java software project, CEO Jonathan Schwartz said Wednesday.

"We're within 30 to 60 days of announcing the open-sourcing of the core Java platform, using an OSI-approved license--likely the same license as we use for the Solaris operating system," Schwartz said during an Oracle OpenWorld speech here.

Solaris is governed by the CDDL, which is derived from the Mozilla Public License and officially blessed as an open-source license by the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

Sun has pledged to release open-source Java components by the end of the year, with the aim of completing the move by 2007, but so far has remained mum about which license it would use. License selection is an important factor: Different commercial and open-source groups prefer different licenses, and open-source software under one license may not necessarily be mingled with software under another.

On Thursday, Sun declined to say whether it's made any definitive moves yet. "We're not ready to talk about the licenses," spokesman Russ Castronovo said.

However, use of CDDL is not a surprise: Sun has lobbied hard to convince the computing industry of the license's merits, and it's the same license used to cover Glassfish, an open-source collection of higher-level Java Enterprise Edition software packages for running Java programs on servers.

That makes it a good fit for Java Standard Edition, which has yet to be open-sourced. Java SE is the foundation of the technology, and as such handles the basic promise of Java, which is to let a program run on a wide variety of computer systems.

Java SE includes the Java virtual machine, which translates programs written in the Java language into instructions a specific computer can understand. It also has libraries of supporting software routines and other components.

IBM, Red Hat and open-source advocates have lobbied for years for Sun to make Java an open-source project. In the meantime, Novell has created an open-source version of Microsoft's .Net, which is conceptually very similar to Java, and IBM has helped to launch an open-source Java SE project called Harmony.

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