June 21, 2005 4:00 AM PDT

Sun tries sharing Java again; still not open source

Sun Microsystems is trying a new way to share its Java server software, launching a project called GlassFish that lets outsiders tinker with the project's source code but that stops well short of making it actual open-source software.

Sun quietly launched GlassFish on June 6 and plans to discuss it at its JavaOne conference, which begins next week in San Francisco. The project makes the Sun Java System Application Server Platform Edition 9 available under the Java Research License (JRL), which grants some access to source code but prohibits full open-source privileges, such as permission to redistribute the software or use it beyond research projects.

"GlassFish is a window and entry point into Sun's development process where community members can review source code, submit improvements, and join in technical discussions," Sun said on the Web site. "GlassFish is a renewed partnership between Sun and the larger enterprise Java community."

Or perhaps a renewed effort by the company that invented Java to make its Java application server more relevant. Sun's application server has not attained the popularity of rival products from IBM, BEA Systems and JBoss. In a 2003 effort to boost the program's fortunes, Sun started giving away the basic Platform Edition for free.

Application server software, widely used by banks and other sophisticated Internet operations, lets the same Java program run on servers using a wide variety of processors and operating systems.

The GlassFish move follows Sun's $50 million "share" campaign and its first major moves making its Solaris operating system an open-source project. But GlassFish still isn't open-source software.

Software governed by the JRL "is only for initial research and development projects," the license terms say. "If you decide to use your project internally for a productive use, and/or distribute your product to others, you must sign a commercial agreement and meet the Java compatibility requirements."

Sun would be better off putting Java under a real open-source license, said Burton Group analyst Anne Thomas Manes. "The JRL, from my perspective, is Sun's way to try to generate a community to fix bugs and create test cases and add value to the Java platform for free," but it doesn't grant outsiders rights in exchange for those labors, she said.

Sun for years has struggled to relax its Java grip without running the risk that others could introduce incompatibilities that lead to different, incompatible versions. It has attracted numerous companies to collectively control Java in a group effort called the Java Community Process. Sun continues to warn of the dangers of incompatible Java.

A better approach, Manes believes, would be to release control of the Java source code, controlling the compatibility problem by permitting use of the Java brand only with compatible versions.

IBM, a major Java partner, has called for open-source Java, but Sun Chief Executive Scott McNealy responded with the opinion, "They have Java envy."

A significant open-source rival already has disparaged Sun's GlassFish effort: JBoss CEO Marc Fleury, whose open-source Java software is widely used.

On his blog, Fleury criticized the license as "yet another Sun invention," then added, "it is irrelevant what kind of licenses they use, since the whole thing is irrelevant anyway." He recommended watching the movie "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" as more interesting.

GlassFish isn't the first time Sun has let others see the application server source code, but it does mean a less complicated mechanism. For years, Sun offered Java source code under the Sun Community Source License, or SCSL, a license that has separate provisions to accommodate research use, internal use and commercial sales.

Joe Keller, vice president of marketing for Java Web services and tools, said the Java code also will be available under the Java Distribution License (JDL) for those who want to distribute the software. Offering the JRL and JDL for specific areas is simpler than one multiple-use license, he said. "We are making them simpler and easier to read," Keller said.

And the GlassFish project isn't just about seeing the software, but also about influencing it. "It is a way for us to get closer to the developer community by responding to their request to allow them to see the code and have a hand in the evolution," Keller said.

Glass fish are aquarium dwellers known for their see-through skin, but the GlassFish project is far from transparent compared with many open-source projects. Its mailing lists and frequently asked question pages are only available to those who sign the license and log in.

But Sun is offering some public information. For example, the company has published detailed instructions on building the software using Sun's open-source NetBeans development tools.

30 comments

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Why the double standard?
Every article about Sun of late has to throw in some backhanded
comment about Java not being open-source. It seems like there
is a double standard at CNET: Sun is at fault for not making their
product open-source, but for other companies, that's okay. Just
once I would like to see an article here with a headline like,
"Microsoft releases SP3; Windows still not open-source". Sure, I
would love for Java to be open-source, but let's be fair. Sun has
gone far beyond most companies in opening their source code.
They do not deserve headlines like this, which seems intended
merely to stir up controversy, using sensationalism to make the
author's story sound more interesting than it really is.
Posted by vocaro (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My thoughts exactly
I was about to make a comment about Sun, Java, and Open Source, but it appears that someone else shares my sentiments and has already responded. I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Harmon!

I also believe that Java wouldn't be where it is today without Sun sheperding it as they've done. I only hope they can stick to their guns and keep control, or we're going to end up with 15 flavors of Java like we have with Linux. It seems to me that the people that want to make money off of Sun's work are the one's complaining the loudest about Java not being open-sourced, not the other way around.

Jay
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
You make a good point
It is points like this that keep me reading these forums. Sun released Solaris as open source and they did not recieve enought points for doing so. Java, like most computer languages, is better left under the firm control of one body. Since Sun created Java they should be able to do with it what they want.
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
You HAVE to be kidding me
A) Microsoft doesn't have an open-source program but it does at least have a program where it shares windows source with other companies; and

B) Just about every CNET article about Microsoft has some backhanded comment in it about security or some disparaging remarks on people's blogs about their products.

CNET is way more biased against MS than it is Sun. Gimme a break already.
Posted by (127 comments )
Link Flag
Why the double standard?
Every article about Sun of late has to throw in some backhanded
comment about Java not being open-source. It seems like there
is a double standard at CNET: Sun is at fault for not making their
product open-source, but for other companies, that's okay. Just
once I would like to see an article here with a headline like,
"Microsoft releases SP3; Windows still not open-source". Sure, I
would love for Java to be open-source, but let's be fair. Sun has
gone far beyond most companies in opening their source code.
They do not deserve headlines like this, which seems intended
merely to stir up controversy, using sensationalism to make the
author's story sound more interesting than it really is.
Posted by vocaro (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My thoughts exactly
I was about to make a comment about Sun, Java, and Open Source, but it appears that someone else shares my sentiments and has already responded. I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Harmon!

I also believe that Java wouldn't be where it is today without Sun sheperding it as they've done. I only hope they can stick to their guns and keep control, or we're going to end up with 15 flavors of Java like we have with Linux. It seems to me that the people that want to make money off of Sun's work are the one's complaining the loudest about Java not being open-sourced, not the other way around.

Jay
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
You make a good point
It is points like this that keep me reading these forums. Sun released Solaris as open source and they did not recieve enought points for doing so. Java, like most computer languages, is better left under the firm control of one body. Since Sun created Java they should be able to do with it what they want.
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
You HAVE to be kidding me
A) Microsoft doesn't have an open-source program but it does at least have a program where it shares windows source with other companies; and

B) Just about every CNET article about Microsoft has some backhanded comment in it about security or some disparaging remarks on people's blogs about their products.

CNET is way more biased against MS than it is Sun. Gimme a break already.
Posted by (127 comments )
Link Flag
Face it, Sun is a hardware company
Always was, always will be. It will slowly die as a hardware company. It will be a great loss.
I hope IBM buys Java and keeps it proprietary so it doesn't splinter. That would fulfill M$ dreams.
Posted by gfsdfge (130 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Face it, Sun is a hardware company
Always was, always will be. It will slowly die as a hardware company. It will be a great loss.
I hope IBM buys Java and keeps it proprietary so it doesn't splinter. That would fulfill M$ dreams.
Posted by gfsdfge (130 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why not ask IBM to open source
Double standards at best. Journalistic values at the lowest. Balance of analysis tilted against Sun. Typical of this author's articles in the past. Why not write about IBM's not open sourcing Websphere products? Why not write about BEA not open sourcing their Web Logic products ? Why quote a competitor's viewpoint that was expressed in his blog, in a news item.

The author also mixes two different technologies Java and J2EE. Does Glassfish project apply to J2EE or Java ? Not clear from the story. If it is J2EE, then why talk about open sourcing Java here. If it is Java, when why talk about J2EE server market shares, etc.

In short,this sound more like a blog of the confused than a reporter's balanced report on a development. Who wants the author's opinion on this?
Posted by shreeg (26 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How is Java and J2EE different?
They are not. Java is a language and a JVM, which of course executes java programs.

J2EE is an API for Java. It has all the classes, interfaces, and everything else of J2SE(a more basic API with IO, networking, applets, GUIs, math,ect), plus a bunch of other packages for web servers and enterprise development. Both J2SE and J2EE, and the other parts(J2ME Java Card, ect) are all Java. They are all based on the same Java core.

I am glad that Sun is retaining control on Java. Every language needs a base group to keep it from losing focus. Anyone can extend the Java API's and add pretty much what they want already. Fracturing java will help no one, and weaken the language. I do hope that Sun because more responsive to developers. I personally wish they would add native compilation support(but keep the JVM), and operator overloading. I think that would add a lot to the language and its desirablility.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
Why not ask IBM to open source
Double standards at best. Journalistic values at the lowest. Balance of analysis tilted against Sun. Typical of this author's articles in the past. Why not write about IBM's not open sourcing Websphere products? Why not write about BEA not open sourcing their Web Logic products ? Why quote a competitor's viewpoint that was expressed in his blog, in a news item.

The author also mixes two different technologies Java and J2EE. Does Glassfish project apply to J2EE or Java ? Not clear from the story. If it is J2EE, then why talk about open sourcing Java here. If it is Java, when why talk about J2EE server market shares, etc.

In short,this sound more like a blog of the confused than a reporter's balanced report on a development. Who wants the author's opinion on this?
Posted by shreeg (26 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How is Java and J2EE different?
They are not. Java is a language and a JVM, which of course executes java programs.

J2EE is an API for Java. It has all the classes, interfaces, and everything else of J2SE(a more basic API with IO, networking, applets, GUIs, math,ect), plus a bunch of other packages for web servers and enterprise development. Both J2SE and J2EE, and the other parts(J2ME Java Card, ect) are all Java. They are all based on the same Java core.

I am glad that Sun is retaining control on Java. Every language needs a base group to keep it from losing focus. Anyone can extend the Java API's and add pretty much what they want already. Fracturing java will help no one, and weaken the language. I do hope that Sun because more responsive to developers. I personally wish they would add native compilation support(but keep the JVM), and operator overloading. I think that would add a lot to the language and its desirablility.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
Glassfish is opensource
Released under CDDL, Glassfish project is opensource. I think the headline should change with an update.
Posted by shreeg (26 comments )
Reply Link Flag
reporter responds: It was open-sourced 6 days after this story posted
It's true that GlassFish is now released under the CDDL. However, we published our GlassFish story June 21, and Sun didn't release it under the CDDL until June 27, at which point we wrote a separate story (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/Sun+faces+open-source+swarm/2100-7344_3-5761475.html" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/Sun+faces+open-source+swarm/2100-7344_3-5761475.html</a>).

--sts
Posted by Shankland (1858 comments )
Link Flag
Glassfish is opensource
Released under CDDL, Glassfish project is opensource. I think the headline should change with an update.
Posted by shreeg (26 comments )
Reply Link Flag
reporter responds: It was open-sourced 6 days after this story posted
It's true that GlassFish is now released under the CDDL. However, we published our GlassFish story June 21, and Sun didn't release it under the CDDL until June 27, at which point we wrote a separate story (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/Sun+faces+open-source+swarm/2100-7344_3-5761475.html" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/Sun+faces+open-source+swarm/2100-7344_3-5761475.html</a>).

--sts
Posted by Shankland (1858 comments )
Link Flag
Factually in Error
The ARTICLE itself is factually in error.

Project GlassFish *is* open source, released under the COMMON
DEVELOPMENT AND DISTRIBUTION LICENSE (CDDL) Version 1.0.

It is project Mustang, i.e. Java SE 6, which is being released
under the Java Research License (JRL).

Dont your authors research their stories? Your author is either
just sloppy or is purposely deceitful.

Also, GlassFish is now a direct competitor to JBoss, so of course
Mark Fleury, the President of JBoss, would try to disparage it
with such insightful comments as "However, the truth is that it is
irrelevant what kind of licenses they use since the whole thing is
irrelevant anyway."

I guess "irrelevant" is Mark's vocabulary word for the day. In
more ways than one.

Rob Ross
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
reporter responds: It's not wrong; Sun changed the license
In case anyone missed my other reply on this subject, GlassFish was released under the JRL at the time we published this story, June 21. It's now indeed under the CDDL. We wrote a separate story (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/Sun+faces+open-source+swarm/2100-7344_3-5761475.html" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/Sun+faces+open-source+swarm/2100-7344_3-5761475.html</a>) about the CDDL move when that happened.

--sts
Posted by Shankland (1858 comments )
Link Flag
Factually in Error
The ARTICLE itself is factually in error.

Project GlassFish *is* open source, released under the COMMON
DEVELOPMENT AND DISTRIBUTION LICENSE (CDDL) Version 1.0.

It is project Mustang, i.e. Java SE 6, which is being released
under the Java Research License (JRL).

Dont your authors research their stories? Your author is either
just sloppy or is purposely deceitful.

Also, GlassFish is now a direct competitor to JBoss, so of course
Mark Fleury, the President of JBoss, would try to disparage it
with such insightful comments as "However, the truth is that it is
irrelevant what kind of licenses they use since the whole thing is
irrelevant anyway."

I guess "irrelevant" is Mark's vocabulary word for the day. In
more ways than one.

Rob Ross
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
reporter responds: It's not wrong; Sun changed the license
In case anyone missed my other reply on this subject, GlassFish was released under the JRL at the time we published this story, June 21. It's now indeed under the CDDL. We wrote a separate story (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/Sun+faces+open-source+swarm/2100-7344_3-5761475.html" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/Sun+faces+open-source+swarm/2100-7344_3-5761475.html</a>) about the CDDL move when that happened.

--sts
Posted by Shankland (1858 comments )
Link Flag
IBM Still Closed Source and Criticizing Sun
IBM has yet to open source Lotus, Rational, Tivoli, WebSphere or
tons of their other software products. Sun has made much larger
contributions (Solaris, Glassfish, the JCP, Open Office, even chip
designs for upcoming Sparc chips) to open source than IBM and
still has to put up with IBM's criticism. The source for Java is all
available to be seen by anyone who cares to register and it's free
for anyone who wants to use it. The only thing that IBM is really
concerned about is that Sun still holds claim to the name Java so
that people can't fragment it like Microsoft tried to in the past.
That irks IBM. Tough luck. The community is much better off for
the stewardship that Sun provides and the Java Community
Process is one of the largest thriving open source communities
in existence. It's time for IBM to start open sourcing their own
software line and quite their complaining.
Posted by RationalPi (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
IBM Still Closed Source and Criticizing Sun
IBM has yet to open source Lotus, Rational, Tivoli, WebSphere or
tons of their other software products. Sun has made much larger
contributions (Solaris, Glassfish, the JCP, Open Office, even chip
designs for upcoming Sparc chips) to open source than IBM and
still has to put up with IBM's criticism. The source for Java is all
available to be seen by anyone who cares to register and it's free
for anyone who wants to use it. The only thing that IBM is really
concerned about is that Sun still holds claim to the name Java so
that people can't fragment it like Microsoft tried to in the past.
That irks IBM. Tough luck. The community is much better off for
the stewardship that Sun provides and the Java Community
Process is one of the largest thriving open source communities
in existence. It's time for IBM to start open sourcing their own
software line and quite their complaining.
Posted by RationalPi (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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