Sun to open source Java - no timetable set

It's a matter of when, not if, says VP

Sun Microsystems says it plans to open source Java, but said before it does so company officials have to be certain the move won't lead to diverging paths in the code.

Richard Green, Sun's executive vice president of software, made it absolutely clear that Java would be opened source. He was speaking at the Sun conference JavaOne in San Francisco.

"It isn't a question of whether, it is a question of how," Green said to cheers from the developers on hand for JavaOne.

To give the announcement extra weight, Green described the plan in response to questions from Sun's new CEO Jonathan Schwartz.

The company did not set a schedule for when the open-source release would take place and said some problems first have to be solved.

"There are two battling forces here. There is the desire to completely open this up, complete access — and so many changes in the licences have been made that it's virtually all there," said Green, referring to the licensing models now available to developers.

He also said compatibility is a major issue with the planned move. "I don't think anybody wants to see a diverging Java platform," Green said, arguing that one of the "great values" of Java is that the company has been able to avoid divergence and ensure consistency.

The challenge now, he said, is how to solve those issues. "I'm going to sign up big time to go figure that out."