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Javaone news: Java on Linux the real story

Posted by calvinaustin on May 16, 2006 at 8:12 AM PDT

One of the first Big community Javaone items this year wasn't the Open Source Java news but a new license for the JDK on Linux. Now I really believe this is a good thing, not enough, but an improvement. However, if you read Simon Phipps blog then Sun appears to be tackling something akin to the Berlin wall and funny enough re-writing history at the same time! Without giving away too many secrets here is the real story.

For reasons that date back to the 90s, and which were never meant to cause GNU/Linux a problem (as at the time it wasn't really on the radar), the Java platform has been licensed in such a way that GNU/Linux distributions couldn't carry it. In addition, the Sun-provided installer for GNU/Linux has, to be charitable, sucked.

Now for those with good memories, of course linux was around in the 90's, infact the original license for JDK 1.1 was friendly to many distributions and made many flowers bloom. Things changed with Java 2 and the SCSL license, of course every linux distribution wanted to have Sun Java on their CD and Sun had agreements with Redhat, Suse, Caldera and others. Any of the restrictive terms were due to Suns binary license and no-one else, for example the license click through on download and install was introduced later and enforced on blackdowns distribution. So Sun built the wall, and forced the click-through sucky installer and knew what it did.

"An unprecedented collection of Debian developers, Ubuntu developers, Sun engineers and Sun lawyers has spent months devising a new binary license for the Java platform"

I can't believe it took this much effort, kudos for those 'unprecedented collections' of Debian and Ubuntu developers for waiting, anyone who uses those distributions knows that they have invested effort into virtual packages anyway to handle offline distributions. Like Wei adds, does this mean fedora will be JDK ready, perhaps...if it does, it will be down to the effort of individuals of course, taking Java back to its roots.

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