16 November 2006

GPL and Java

Java is now governed by the GPL. This happened (fairly quietly) around Monday, Nov 13. As with most things in the open source world, nothing monumental happened with this announcement; no big PR blitz, no CEO chest-thumping, just a polite blog post, and a flurry of articles.

A month or so back, Oracle decided that they'd had enough of their partnership with Redhat, and or Suse, and opted to create their own Linux distro. An Oracle consultant at work claimed that this would eliminate the "finger pointing" between the folks at Oracle and the operating system that their database runs on. Interesting.

Java's gone in a polar opposite direction. A GPL license means that it can be married with just about anything else that has a GPL license. Linux anyone?

After mentioning this to Jeff and Vishal over the last day or two, I saw: Linux Mint.

I hope that's the tip of the iceberg. I can't wait to do this:

sudo apt-get install glassfish

So, perhaps like you can download complex perl apps/web-apps (that gently place themselves in cgi-bin, a'la mapserver), maybe something like cruise-control becomes a one line install/deploy; maybe we get a distro geared toward being a Java container running OS?

Apart from that easing installation and packaging via the license, which some apps were already doing (kudos to henplus), there's the sex-appeal of porting some of the work done on Solaris (another little GPL project) to Linux to help with getting a *X system to play with Java under the sheets a little more. I'd love to see a process listing via ps (or top) show me java threads by individual thread name, instead of just showing up as a child process/thread with the command line invocation as the process name. [Maybe this is just a pipe dream, but I'd sure like it].

I wonder what this does for the JCP and the JSR system though. I really do like the way in which there are clear specs laid out for implementation guidelines. I hope these manage to stick around, and perhaps they might remain successful enough to become a good working model for open source projects. In a way though, I suspect that many projects already adopt a similar system, albeit in a far less formal fashion.

It feels good (even better than before!) to work with Java.

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