open source Java

Since the announcement last week, lots of people have been pondering over what the open source Java release will mean.

As far as I can see, it’s almost entirely about improving acceptance in Linux.

  • Distributions with strict restrictions on what licenses they can use, like Debian, will now be able to include Java. I use Debian a bit so I would certainly appreciate it including Java.
  • Distributions will be able to build their own style of package of Java, e.g. Debian will be able to make .deb. Again, I would appreciate being able to install Java from the normal package management tools rather than a separate setup as I currently have.
  • Distributions will be able to build optimized binaries for different processors, or provide source packages like Gentoo.

Are there other benefits? Not that will affect many people, in my opinion.

  • Windows and Mac users are likely to continue using the standard builds for their systems.
  • The JCP is continuing as before, so this doesn’t make any difference to how Java evolves.
  • It will be possible to fork the JDK, but any forks won’t be ‘Java’ any more, so people are unlikely to be encouraged to take them up except in specialized niches.
  • Students and researchers will be able to see more easily how the ‘Java technology’ works. I can believe that Hotspot has some well thought out ideas in it, but it is far from being the only center for VM research and development.
  • Java will be ‘safe’ if Sun ‘goes down’ – but it probably would have been anyway.

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