IBM, Sun To Summit Over "Open" Java

IBM says they'll meeting with Sun next week to discuss creating a more "open" Java. News of the meeting follows months of failed attempts between IBM and Sun to unify over an "open" Java tools standards. But, Sun's software VP Jonathan Schwartz called IBM's plan "bonky." Word of the meeting follows an "open letter" sent by IBM to Sun asking to work together on such a project.

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Word surfaced today that IBM and Sun will meet on the topic next week, although to avoid unmet expectations, no players are committing to anything at this point.

So far, Sun execs seem nonplussed, even puzzled, about IBM's push for a meeting on Java. Earlier this week, Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's executive vice president for software, called IBM's plan "bonky," noting that splitting Java into multiple "open" efforts could undermine one of Java's long-standing virtues: platform portability.

Meanwhile, on another front, other moves are afoot to give end users more voice in the next iterations of the Java standard. Sun is prepping to implement a new version of the charter for the Java Community Process (JCP), the standard-bearer of the Java standards. Under JCP 2.6, end user/developers are invited to join the process as full members (not simply as commenters), and other more "open" rules are expected to be put into place.

In it's initial letter to Sun, IBM said in part: :

"IBM is a strong supporter of the open source community and we believe that a first class open source Java implementation would further enhance Java's position in the industry by spurring growth of new applications and encouraging new innovation in the Java platform.

"Here is the offer: IBM would like to work with Sun on an independent project to open source Java. Sun's strong commitment to open source Java would speed the development of a first class and compatible open source Java implementation to the benefit of our customers and the industry.

"IBM is ready to provide technical resources and code for the open source
Java implementation while Sun provides the open source community with Sun materials including Java specifications, tests and code. We are firmly convinced the open source community would rally around this effort and make substantial contributions as well.

"This would be a very exciting step for IBM and Sun. I am convinced that the creation of an open source implementation of the Java environment would be of enormous importance to the developer community and our industry's collective customers. It would open a whole world of opportunity for new applications and growth of the Java community. In addition, this would accelerate the growth and adoption of technologies that are built on Java and are critical to our customers today, including Web services and Service Oriented Architecture."

IBM spokespersons say that the letter is not an offer from IBM to Open Source all of Websphere, but "we are willing to talk to Sun about open sourcing some (possibly large) subset of the Java language infrastructure, run time, and libraries."
On a second front, IBM's Bob Sutor, director of WebSphere Infrastructure Software, in an interview with eWEEK, said, "We need an absolutely official open-source implementation of Java." (That full interview is available at eWeek.)

IBM has been concerned about Sun's influence over Java specifications and the Java Community Process for more than a year. IBM first publicly voiced their concerns over Sun's control over Java in the fall of 2002 in an interview with Later, in a December 2002 interview with Integration Developer News, then-IBM Websphere program director Stefan Van Overtveldt said Sun was "blocking innovation" in Java standards.

JBoss Creator "Not Convinced" About Open Source Java
Meanwhile, in an ironic twist, Marc Fleury, creator of the Open Source J2EE application sever JBoss said that IBM is off the mark. Fleury told OET: "For all the troubles we've had with Sun [over J2ee certification of JBoss], Sun has done a tremendous job of stewarding the Java language, and I'm not convinced that an "Open Source" Java language makes a lot of sense. What does make sense are more Open Source implementations of the [Java] technology," Fluery added..

"The original idea came from Eric Raymond, [co-founder of the non-profit Open Source Initiative," Fluery added, saying "The idea is that Sun must release Java or face death, and that's B.S. It is a lot of hot air, and ignores what professional Open Source groups can do with Java as it is."