Open sourcing Java got its official start back in May when Sun's new CEO Jonathan Schwartz and the new Executive Vice President of Software Rich Green took the stage at JavaOne 2006. During that presentation, Schwartz asked the question "Will Java be open sourced?" to which Green famously answered "It's not a matter of if, but of when".
Fast forward 6 months to today. Looking more comfortable with each other than ever, Schwartz and Green took the floor once again to fulfill that promise. As has been widely reported, Sun announced they will begin immediately to open source Java SE, ME, and EE under the GNU Public License (GPL) version 2. This was endorsed on screen by various industry players such as Tim O'Reilly, Eben Mogley, and Richard Stallman. Some parts of this process are already ahead of schedule, prompting last minute changes to the press release.
At the end of the Q&A session, however, the duo dropped a new bombshell on the audience. Jonathan mentioned that OpenSolaris had been a big success under the CDDL license. "We chose a license that was, at the time, correct for Solaris;" said Jonathan, asking "Would you be averse to changing it [to GPL]?" Rich replied "We will take a close look at it". He went on to say that the feedback from today's announcement had been "overwhelmingly positive" and this experience will "drive a lot of our decisions going forward".
Well. It wasn't quite as strong as the "It's not a matter of if" comment in May, but clearly Sun has been pleased with their open source direction in general, and they're getting a lot of kudos for their choice of GPL for Java. The presenters even highlighted my "Why Java will be GPL'd" article, which featured a poll showing 76% of respondents favoring GPL. Are we seeing the start of a domino effect here?
Asked why Sun didn't donate Java to Apache Harmony (which allows proprietary extensions and embedding), Johnathan said "This [free and open source] is a rising tide that floats all boats. It wouldn't surprise me to see proprietary software companies complaining about this. They're fighting freedom."