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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Open source java?

After a lot of promises it looks like Sun is finally going to open source their Java virtual machine. It plans to release the javac and the hotspot client VM as open source software in October.

So how does an open source java help? Frankly, I've no idea.  "Don't fix it if it ain't broke" is a popular quote. The present status of Java goes well with me. Things are straightforward, there's an implicit standard and besides, Sun has been handling Java development quite well. Multiple forks of the JDK may break compatibility and that's one of the major reasons Sun has been refusing to open source java untill now. And this lack of an open source license for Java is the reason that Sun JDK does not ship with any of the major Linux distributions.

Although some people have had some frustations with their promises. For example, there's no library support for knowing the free disk space on a disk partition in Java. I'd think that's an important thing. Surprisingly this has been a  feature request since 9th June, 1997 and after repeated (unfulfilled) promises, it's going to be implemented in the upcoming mustang release of JDK (version 6.0). It shows as fixed in mustang release in the bug logs of Sun.

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