Sun is to open source the last closed-source parts of Java, a move that should make it possible to fully integrate the software into Linux distributions.
Rich Sands, Sun's group manager for developer marketing, confirmed on Friday that Sun expects the work to be completed by the end of this year.
Most of Java has already been opened up, barring a few elements that had been held back because Sun did not own the rights to them. These rights seem to have been renegotiated, or are being renegotiated — at the time of writing Sun had not given further details on this point.
Sun started open-sourcing Java at the end of 2006, but only 96 percent of Java was able to be made available to the Open Java Development Kit (OpenJDK) project at the time. The hold-out elements that made up the remaining four percent comprised "some encryption libraries, graphics libraries, the sound engine and some SNMP [Simple Network Management Protocol] management code", said a statement issued on Friday.
Because these could not be offered under the GNU General Public Licence, this stopped OpenJDK — used in the Fedora and Ubuntu Linux distributions — being fully compatible with Java.
"Over the past year, we have pretty much removed most of those encumbrances," said Sands. "The process of clearing encumbrances is complex, and has involved close collaboration between Sun engineers and members of the Free Java community including developers working on GNU Classpath and the IcedTea project."
"Work still needs to be done to offer the Java sound engine and SNMP code via open source and we expect that effort to be completed later this year," Sands said.
Mark Taylor, the founder of the Open Source Consortium, told ZDNet.com.au sister site ZDNet.co.uk on Friday that it was "great that Java is at some point in the future going to be fully open source and GPL", but added that the announcement was a reiteration of a promise that had already been made.