Sun’s Chief Open Source Officer Simon Phipps has announced the next stage of the open sourcing of Java in London this week, adding Java ME to the road map. Open source versions of both Java ME and Java SE should be available by the end of the year.
While there were no actual dates confirmed, Phipps went into more detail on the open source roadmap for Sun’s various software platforms. Describing it as a gradual process, he detailed Sun’s commitment to providing an open source software stack, from OS to Java, and in the future, its middleware.
We also talked about the missing element in many Open Source projects: governance.
While one of the keys to Open Source is the license, another is just how the project is run. And Simon sees one big problem facing many open source projects.
It’s all very well being open source, but with only one person with commit rights (the ability to make changes to the code) to the code base, if the project becomes successful, they’re going to become overwhelmed very quickly. Things get worse when commit rights are concentrated in a single project. A project run that like that (and there are many many of them, including some very high profile ones indeed) is more like Microsoft’s shared source programme than anything else. There have even been cases when experts on a piece of code have left the company that sponsors the project, and have immediately lost any rights to working with the codebase…
The really successful projects, like Linux and Apache, have distributed commit rights, and a range of people from many different organisations adding code. That’s what Phipps wants to do with Sun’s open source projects. Open Solaris is certainly successful, and has spawned several different distributions (including one that mixes Debian with a Solaris kernel), and he hopes to the same with Java.
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