In other ways, the new regime at Sun is prying open the gates to the castle a little bit at a time. There was a representative of IBM on the stage during the opening keynote. Granted it was a no-name cameo appearance, but somebody was allowed to hold a sign with Big Blue's initials on it. I wouldn't say it's a first--just highly unusual. Sun and IBM established Java in the enterprise together a decade ago, but somehow rivalry and miles of distance developed, despite the success of the partnership. One of the issues was Sun's refusal to make Java an international standard. Well, Sun this time around said it will make Java open source. It didn't say when or with whom--the Apache Software Foundation?--but Schwartz did say they would do it. That will further ease tensions. IBM VP Rod Smith said IBM is obligingly standing by to help.
And Sun is gong to make it much easier for the Java Development Kit, including the Java virtual machine, to be distributed with Linux. In the past, a Sun license requirement kept Java out of Linux distributions, and an opportunity for what should have been two natural allies was lost. Now Java, which runs with ease under Linux, is better positioned to serve those open-source developers' needs.
For starters, the JDK will ship with the Debian and Ubuntu versions of Linux. Novell already has the ability to ship Java with its SuSE version. Red Hat can't say anything at the moment, but since it's acquiring JBoss, a Java application server and Java middleware, it's hard to see why it wouldn't want to ship the JDK, too.
For Simon Phipps, former IBMer, now Chief Open Source Officer at Sun, it was a good day. "I joined Sun to see Java become open source," he declared. Asked when that was going to happen, he said, "I have absolutely no idea."
Guess you better stay on the good side of Schwartz & Co., Simon. Could be a few years yet.