August 16, 2006 4:20 PM PDT

Sun to coders: Open-source Java won't change your life

Sun Microsystems' decision to make Java SE open source won't make any difference to the majority of Java programmers, according to the company's chief open-source officer.

Simon Phipps, speaking at a briefing in London on Tuesday, told Builder UK that he's long held the belief that coders working with Java don't care whether the source code is available for their platform.

"I'm not sure it changes very much of your life. This has been a perspective I've had on open-source Java SE for some time: There are precious few people who really care," Phipps said. "I actually don't think most Java developers will be in any way affected by what's going on here in the short term."

Sun's announcement that it would make Java SE open-source comes after a long build-up with a lot of hints by senior executives that the move was in the pipeline. Sun has faced criticism in the past for not opening Java up fast enough, but much of the delay in opening up the code has been due to legal work by Sun to ensure it had the rights to do so, according to the company.

However, Phipps said he thinks that developers working with Java aren't interested in its internals. "What really matters about Java SE to most people who complain about it, is that it isn't in Debian, for example, rather than they want to devote half their life to working on the source code", he said. However, having an open-source process in place around the components that Java coders are using should improve quality, Phipps said. "There are opportunities for people who find bugs to fix them themselves, go into the mailing lists, and submit those bug fixers to the committers of that code."

Phipps explained that this situation mirrored those of other open-source projects, but maintained it was still a benefit for software to be open source. "Take the Linux kernel. Precious few people contribute anything to the Linux kernel, but that doesn't mean that it's not important for it to be open source; it just means that there are not many people whose calling is to be a Linux kernel committer," he said.

The group of coders committing code back to the project is expected to be a fraction of the overall number of Java developers. "I don't know how many people will make up the open-source Java SE community, but it's unlikely to be more than a few hundred," Phipps said. "The number of people who will be interested will be vast, but the number actually cutting code will be quite small."

Jonathan Bennett of Builder UK reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
open source, Sun Microsystems Inc., Linux kernel, Java, Java developer

12 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
don't worry, no one uses Java anymore
bleh...give me a break. a little too late in the game again? Meanwhile, php and ruby on rails are kicking their butts!
Posted by microsoft slayer (174 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't tell Xerox
and a ton of other big companies.

A lot of utilities for their big iron printers are Java.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
Java does more than web
Sure PHP and Ruby passed Java a long time ago in the web market. But believe it or not, there is more to web out there. A lot of fortune 500 companies use Java for desktop applications, because it cross platform. There is more than the web out there, and for desktop applications Java is very good.

So your comment is a bit off.
Posted by mattrmiller1 (1 comment )
Link Flag
PHP?
You have to be kidding!

Or a script kiddie who dows not know any better.
Posted by donpro (7 comments )
Link Flag
Too funny!
Seems you're not a real developer.

Java like C are close to "perfect" languages.

Having said that, only a software engineer will appreciate that statement. ;-)

Java isn't perfect, but its proven itself to be a classic.
Posted by dargon19888 (412 comments )
Link Flag
Mind the red herring
I was at this briefing, and blogged about it <a href="http://www.mwdadvisors.com/blog/2006/08/suns-open-sourcing-of-java-avoid-red.html">here</a>.
There's no real impact on Java developers or users here: in fact Sun has a much more pragmatic reason for pursuing open-source generally. It's just that people would rather not talk about it...
Posted by neilwd (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oops - URL
Blog is at:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.mwdadvisors.com/blog/2006/08/suns-open-sourcing-of-java-avoid-red.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.mwdadvisors.com/blog/2006/08/suns-open-sourcing-of-java-avoid-red.html</a>
Posted by neilwd (5 comments )
Link Flag
Not the open source business model for the code itself
Actually what they are tuley saying is that they will be working so heavily on it that they wont need to many fingers in the pot from the outside which is usually better quality code. BUT having it open source means better uptake from developers becase we can tweak little anoyances that MS can fix in .NET right away with their billions of dollars. So this is a huge incentive for devs to move away from .NET and delv into Java. If .NEt does something better an annoyed develoiper that can't stand .NEt just goes into Java and fixes it plus this is way better for the portability factor as .NEt is a strict enemy of potability and portability is a number one priority to developers.
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hmmm no.
Actually going opensource isn't a good thing unless Sun does vet the mods being made. I think its safe to say that Sun realizes that their developers aren't perfect and that there may be a better way to skin the proverbial cat.

Having said that, Sun is correct that taking Java to the "Open Source" world is reall a non-event.

The point Sun is making that many who use Java could care less about the source code.

To the author's point, that a developer can go in to the Java "source" and fix something, is a bad thing. Independent "fixes" means that you lose portability.
Posted by dargon19888 (412 comments )
Link Flag
LOL too funny
Seems you're not a real developer.

Java like C are close to "perfect" languages.

Having said that, only a software engineer will appreciate that statement. ;-)

Java isn't perfect, but its proven itself to be a classic.
Posted by dargon19888 (412 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ooops!
Was replying to the bone head comment of the first poster.
Posted by dargon19888 (412 comments )
Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.