Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Java Goes Open Source

Open Source: A practice that promotes access to the end product's source materials, usually source code

For the past two years, there's been speculation on whether Sun Microsystems will make their programming language, Java, "open source". On Tuesday, the rumor has been confirmed. Sun Microsystems announced that by March 2007, the source code for their programming language, Java, will be available under the GNU General Public License (with the exception of a few modules that aren't owned by Sun - the modules were not named).

I applaud Sun's decision to go "open-source". By opening the source code to the community, this gives programmers the chance to fix bugs quickly and to contribute new ideas. This sense of community is what made Linux the contender that it is today.

In the 1990s, Sun was a major player in the IT industry. Since 2000, Sun has lost billions of dollars and, according to business analysts, is struggling to stay afloat.

While some may critique Sun's decision to go "open-source" because of Sun's current business condition, this may help them in the long run. While Sun is looking for programmers to be able to create software to support Sun's product line, I think that Sun can easily follow the Linux manufacturers' (SuSE/Novell, Red Hat) business model to be profitable by selling support packages.

Will the My Mwalimu site still offer Java programming tutorials? Absolutely. While the tutorials will not explain how to work with the source code that created the Java programming language, the tutorials will demonstrate how to use the Java programming language to develop applications.

I'm very interested to see how this decision unfolds. Personally, I think it's a wise decision, and I think that more software manufacturers and applications developers will choose Java as their language of choice because the "open source" nature of the product will give them more flexibility on what they can develop.

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