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Special November 2006 Coverage, Day Four

Posted by editor on November 16, 2006 at 8:37 AM PST

Thoughts about dual licenses

Tim Bray talked with Artima on What GPL'ed Java Means, and one of the key points they cover in the interview is the dual-licensing model: keeping the existing commercial license for one group of customers that's comfortable with it, and add GPL:

We have lots of commercial licensees. The obvious major players, like IBM, BEA, and lots of others who take the Java code and improve it and put it in their products. In the area of Java ME, obviously a huge portion of the mobile phone industry in the world is a commercial licensee of that technology. We can't cancel those, those are contracts. It would not only be illegal to cancel them, it would be unethical to not offer to renew them when they expire.

For that reason, Java will go on being offered under the existing commercial licenses that we have offered. For those who have commercial licenses with us, when those licenses expire, they will have the option of dropping them and going with the open-source GPL'd version for free, of course. That will be their choice. I suspect that some will, and some won't. It's a complex set of trade-offs.

But do two licenses mean, effectively, two Javas? Robert Cooper fires back with some concerns in his ONJava blog Think of a number between 1 and 10...:

Here's the thing, Tim. That is all well and good, except you maintain the dual licensing model. Unless *Sun* wants to fork Java -- an all internal version, and an all GPL version -- that is just not going to happen. All those improvements that might float around on the internet can’t just be culled by Sun. The author has to hack through the red tape of your contributor agreement, feel comfortable with Sun selling her code to binary only distributors completely out her control -- something which I suspect is going to go over like a fart in church with the exact people you are trying to woo with this -- and THEN Sun will put it "in Java."

So what do you think? Both Bray's and Cooper's articles have talkback sections, both affording an opportunity to make your voice heard.

As we continue to track the community feedback to Monday's open-source Java announcement, we check in with Alan Hargreaves, who blogs that "In many ways I think Sun has firmly laid down the gauntlet to it's competitors to 'walk the walk' and not just 'talk the talk'." Rémi Forax lists some of the things he'd like to add to Java in How far is fidji - Reloaded. And Rich Burridge recalls what it used to be like when he tried to release a project under the LGPL: "had to go around and get sign-off from five VP's (including Jonathan), two CTO's and I forget how many lawyers."

For those of you digging into the details of the release, we point again to the Open-Source Java FAQ to handle some of the more complicated issues: What is the Classpath exception and What are "encumbrances"?

One of the highlights of the release is the Java programming language compiler, javac, which now has its own project as part of OpenJDK. For those of you on the mobile side, check out the ME application developers project, dedicated to the business of application and content development on mobile and embedded Java platforms. ME developers might also want to check out Hinkmond Wong's Java ME technology cheat sheet, which compares ME and SE API's.

Potentially overlooked in this week's big announcements are the 2006 JCP Election Results. For the Standard / Enterprise Edition Executive Committee, Doug Lea has been elected and will serve a three-year term. For the Micro Edition Executive Committee, top vote-getter Ericsson AB will serve a three-year term and second-place finisher Jean-Marie Dautelle will serve for two years.

Want schwag? The Duke project's FAQ notes that Duke T-shirts, mouse pads, and other items are available at the CafePress JavaOne T-Shirt Hurling Contest store.

Finally, Calvin Austin has compiled The unwritten story of open source java, which explores some of the story behind the open source story.


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Thoughts about dual licenses