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Special Report: State of the Java Art

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Sun CEO Calls for Open Source Java
Sun Microsystems' new president and CEO issues a call to action and promotes making Java open source.
by Terrence O'Donnell

JavaOne, May 16, 2006

Jonathan Schwartz, new president and CEO of Sun Microsystems, invited attendees at the opening JavaOne keynote to get more involved in the evolution of the platform, as well as the markets that will grow around it. He invited Rich Green, executive vice president of Sun Software—who himself is one week into his new position after returning to Sun from Cassatt Corp.—to join him on stage, then asked the number-one question on the community's mind: "Are you going to open source Java?"

Jonathan Schwartz, president and CEO of Sun Microsystems
Rich Green, executive vice president of Sun Software
Schwartz with Marc Fleury, general manager of JBoss Inc.

Green noted the desire to open up Java with complete access, but said that compatibility matters and that nobody wants to see a divergent platform. The challenge going forward, Green said, is how to solve for both those positions: "At this point, it's not a question of 'whether,' but a question of 'how.'"

Green reiterated Schwartz's initial message of getting involved by urging the community to step up and do more. He said Sun needs the community to sign up, provide feedback, become members of the JCP, use NetBeans as the standard for generating code, as well as utilize the Sun Developer Network (SDN) and Java.net resources.

Before handing over the dais to Green, Schwartz had taken a quick hand count to see who in the audience were already members of the Java Community Process (JCP) as individuals, then noted that the number was too small. He said that by becoming members of the JCP, individuals will have the opportunity to participate in growing the platform.

Schwartz kicked off his presentation by noting that in the past as the number-two person at Sun, he would get a lot of flak for being a software guy and for always talking about free stuff. He quipped that he had a choice in the presentation to either "try to keep everybody calm and make sure that all those comments about free and open source software" didn't produce an undesired effect, or he could "terrify a lot of people" with a slide that says now it's all about a free kit. He invited everyone who hasn't had the opportunity to download hardware to go to the Sun Microsystems Web site to "download" a free Niagara box to emphasize that "free" will have an impact on the rest of Sun's business. "What's life without risk?" he asked the audience.


A lot of Schwartz's opening comments revolved around the "free" and "open" themes, and in addition to Green he brought up several key industry executives—Ed Zander, chairman and CEO of Motorola; Mark Shuttleworth, founder and CEO of Canonical; and Marc Fleury, general manager of JBoss—to emphasize the importance of getting the community involved in expanding the Java platform. Each guest concluded his brief, on-stage conversation with Schwartz by also imploring the audience to join the JCP and participate in evolving the Java platform.

Green said that there was essentially no timeline to the question of when Java would be open source, but he emphasized again the company's mantra that compatibility remains paramount, and that he's excited about the Java EE specification and its importance in growing the platform. He also invited the spec's expert group to come on stage and take a bow.

About the Author
Terrence O'Donnell is editor of Java Pro and senior editor of FTPOnline.

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