Open-sourcing Java

Should Sun open-source Java? "The Big Question" keynote debate at JavaOne in San Francisco was devoted to this question.

Now, I don't really know what open-sourcing a language means, but this is obviously an important question...

The Java language specification and the JVM spec are both public. The Sun JVM isn't open source, but there are many other Java VMs out there.

The community process is controlled by Sun, but then again some process must exist if you want the language to remain cohesive, and someone or some group will have to control this process.

So it seems that this is ultimately about community dynamics. Languages create communities. Communities shape the way languages evolve.

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The real motive

Being a bit of a cynic, I must say that it seems like IBM suddenly realized it bet the farm on Java, and it doesn't want its fate to be in the hands of Sun. Not very noble, but completely understandable.

Is the term open-source used simply because it's more sexy than talking about ISO standards and the like?

Wish they'd concentrate on...

...Open Standards first, and then worry about open source implementation second. If they'd open up to a standard definition of (a). JVM; (b). Java Language Spec; and (c). Standard Libraries, then the open source community has the freedom to go from there.

Dangerous game

Open standards -- exactly! Sun no longer has the only, or even best, JVM. If they are hoping to become the main Microsoft alternative by staying in control of the other alternative in the C# market, they're playing a dangerous game. IMHO the only reason to use Java is market share, i.e. cheap developers and libraries. As soon as Java loses to C# in popularity and library support, it will have to compete in terms of expressiveness and performance, leaving it far worse off than C, Python, Lisp, ML, etc. Face it, Sun -- Java probably won't win anyways, and certainly won't if you keep control of it. But the best chance for saving Java's dominant mindshare lies in recruiting IBM and the Linux crowd, and as Mono's existence shows, you can't take them for granted.

Doesn't Matter particularly much.

It doesn't matter that much if Sun open sources java, because if they don't, the existing open source javas will become sufficient for development with anyway.

Version Numbers for the Rest of Us

First I'd like them to get the version number straight.