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11.14.06: Open source Java: too little too late?

Jonathan Schwartz is moving quickly to shore up some of the missteps the company has made under Scott McNealy. Releasing Java as open source is an obvious one. But IBM says the move is insufficient. Released under the GPL, which forbids proprietary redistribution, effectively prevents its use in a number of open source efforts.

There are two Apache projects IBM is involved with that aren't GPL friendly - Harmony (Java SE) and a Java ME project that Motorola has signed on to. IBM's Rod Smith said in an IBM statement that Sun should have released Java under multiple licenses, including Apache's license, notes News.com's Martin LaMonica.

"In light of the Apache projects, we have discussed with Sun our strong belief that Sun should contribute their Java technologies to Apache rather than starting another open-source Java project, or at least make their contributions available under an 'Apache friendly' license to ensure the open-source Java community isn't fragmented and disenfranchised, instead Sun would be bringing the same benefits of OS (open-source) Java to this significant and growing open-source community," the statement said.

Schwartz responded: "I find it a little curious that IBM would oppose the GPL. I sure wouldn't want to see them turning their back on the open source community."

In other words, any criticism of the license is tantamount to turning your back on open source. Kinda like any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism, nu?

Ars Technica notes: "Schwartz's comment is particularly ironic when one considers the fact that Schwartz severely condemned the GPL last year, characterizing the license as "predatory."

Still, what is IBM up to. Ars Technica concludes:

There has been some speculation about IBM's motives, primarily fueled by IBM's prominence in the Java software ecosystem. At this point it simply looks like IBM is trying to protect its investment in Apache's Java activities, but some analysts think that IBM's confrontational position reflects a desire to exercise broader control over the future of Java technology.