Java News Desk

Subscribe to Java News Desk: eMailAlertsEmail Alerts
Get Java News Desk: homepageHomepage mobileMobile rssRSS facebookFacebook twitterTwitter linkedinLinkedIn


Related Topics: Java Developer Magazine

Java Developer : Article

"Letting Java Go" - James Gosling in 2003 on Open-Sourcing Java

"If we really let it go, what would happen?" asked James Gosling, at last year's JavaOne.

  • Read Eric S. Raymond's open letter to Scott McNealy, "Let Java Go"

    When asked by a Computerworld reporter back in June 2003 what the latest thinking was at Sun on making Java open-source, Gosling replied:

    "I am certainly one of the people who would love to make it open-source. But it's hard for two reasons. One is that open-source ways of dealing with software work really well so long as you get this sort of collegial atmosphere. If you happen to have a bully on the block who is really strong, it really doesn't work. We have this history of having been victimized, and there are lots of people who are nervous about that."

    "The other issue," Gosling continued, "is that when you've got a platform technology like Java, there are really two sides to the community. There are the people who are building the platform, and the people who are using the platform."

    "From the point of view of the people who are using the platform, one of the most valuable things about Java is the consistency, the interoperability. And from the platform providers' side of the world, they feel it's this sort of tension. On the one hand, they just want to go off and do whatever they damn well please. On the other hand, they know that if they did that, they'd be cutting themselves off from some developers."

    "Being involved with interoperability is something that most manufacturers have this love-hate thing with," Gosling added. "So we've tended to have our licenses be as close to open-source as we can be, while maintaining the one thing that we really care about, which is interoperability."

    Given those arguments he'd adduced himself, he was then asked: do you still favor open-source for Java?

    "I believe all of those arguments are actually correct," he replied. "The question for me is, have we gotten to a point where market pressures will enforce the values of the developer community? Are we someplace where there's no one player who could just take over and be the bully on the block? And I think we're basically there. But different people have different opinions on that."

    Could Java go open-source soon, he was asked. (Remember, this was June 2003.) "It could conceivably happen soon," sais Gosling, "although Sun is kind of a funny company. I don't really know what the right word is. We aren't like a dictatorship. We don't have somebody in the center that's the ultimate control. We aren't like a really hierarchical company. We're a consensus company, which in some ways is lovely and in some ways is completely maddening."

    Gosling concluded: "And this has been a point on which I think everybody agrees on the basic arguments about why we need to protect [Java], and I buy those arguments. The question is then, How do you enforce that? And right now, the argument is mostly, Are we there yet? If we really let it go, what would happen? And there are enough people that are pretty nervous. Right now, that's kind of where the consensus is, but it's slowly been inching away."

  • More Stories By Java News Desk

    JDJ News Desk monitors the world of Java to present IT professionals with updates on technology advances, business trends, new products and standards in the Java and i-technology space.

    Comments (7)

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.