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Java Developer : Article

McNealy to IBM: "Go Open Source with DB2 and Then You Can Tell Me What To Do with My Assets"

McNealy to IBM: "Go Open Source with DB2 and Then You Can Tell Me What To Do with My Assets"

  • Read "Let Java Go" - ESR Writes an Open Letter to Scott McNealy
  • Read "No Sun Is An Island," Says Javalobby Founder
  • Read Should Sun "Let Java Go"? Counter-Arguments vs Open-Sourcing Java
  • Read "Let's Collaborate on Open-Sourcing Java": IBM Writes Open Letter to Sun
  • Read Sun's Schwartz: IBM's Request "Seems a Little Bonky"
  • Read Filtering the FUD from Java Politicking on "Open-Source Java"

    During a news conference held last week at the FOSE 2004 conference in Washington,DC, Sun's supremo Scott McNealy confirmed that Sun won't be opening the source to Java anytime soon.

    "We're trying to understand what problem does it solve that is not already solved," McNealy said, in response to the inevitable questions about what if anything Sun was doing to respond to IBM's invitation to collaborate on an open-source implementation of Java.

    He rejected Eric Raymond's call to "Let Java Go" and noted Sun's longtime experience with the open source community:

    "We've been around the block many times on open interfaces, open systems implementation, compatibility. Nobody has more experience on community development," McNealy said.

    As he has done before, McNealy pointed to what he considers to be the fractured nature of Linux, where a Red Hat distro can have features not compatible with another flavor of Linux.

    But he saved his most combative tone for IBM itself. Speaking to IBM through the assembled reporters in Washington, DC, he said:

    "Go open source with DB2 and then you can tell me what to do with my assets."

  • More Stories By Java News Desk

    JDJ News Desk monitors the world of Java to present IT professionals with updates on technology advances, business trends, new products and standards in the Java and i-technology space.

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    Most Recent Comments
    Eric Herman 03/26/04 08:40:34 PM EST

    Hmm ... "my assets" huh? Boy that really makes the commitment to community clear, doesn''t it?

    "The J2EE specifications are the result of an industry-wide effort that involves a large number of contributors. IBM has contributed in defining more than 80 percent of the J2EE APIs."

    Fecal Extrusion 03/26/04 07:07:55 PM EST

    It'd be neat if IBM did all of a sudden open source DB2,
    and then restated the open Java request.
    ...Call McNealy's bluff.

    JavaMiser 03/26/04 04:13:20 PM EST

    As one Java Developer, my primary concern is true portability/compatibility. It was a foundational concept that Java was built on. I would love to see open source implementations of the JVM, J2SE, and J2EE, but would hate to see a poliferation of technologies claiming to be these things, but really not being them.

    I already spent one summer simply porting a C++ application from one Unix to another. Don''t want to ever do that again. Today I am going from Windows to Linux with out recompiling.

    If you can open it up without loosing compatibility, I''d be all for it. I''d even believe better implementations would emerge. But if it costs us the only 100% portable vendor neutral layer in the software stack (including Linux) it isn''t worth it.

    JavaBrian 03/26/04 02:58:28 PM EST

    Making a quick search of Dice.com today puts a nice perspective on the discussion of Java being a failure. Search for Java and you find 6368 jobs listed. .Net returns 3701 jobs, PHP returns 156 jobs, C# returns 1106 jobs, Perl returns 1931 jobs. 3701 + 156 + 1106 + 1931 = 6894. It sure looks to me like the industry really likes Java. Perhaps that is why everybody wants to get a piece of it.

    JavaLover 03/26/04 12:19:56 PM EST

    I just don''t understanding all these people claiming Java has failed, has discontinuities, has been replaced by C#, PHP is much better, Python is much better, etc ... bla, bla, bla. They seem to be saying Java stinks, but would be absolutely fantastic if just Sun gave it away. Ha ha.

    It''s a great language and J2EE is a fantastic comprehensive infrastructure. Companies like BEA are very succesful at building excellent platforms for enterprise applications with a level of portability I have not seen before. It comprehensive, reliable, supports multiprocessing, clustering, security, legacy applications, transactions. And all this in a standard way. There are excellent tools. They are several years AHEAD of Microsoft. And you can have it NOW. Wow!

    And still all these guys nag and nag and nag ... Well, it''s not free, but neither is your car.

    Sun has done a good job keeping Microsoft''s fingers out of this pie - let''s hope they continue to do so. By all means, let us push Sun into implement whatever it is the community wants to have, the way we want it, but please, don''t kill the cow - let''s milk it!

    inhouse programmer 03/26/04 11:57:26 AM EST

    fracturing is a UNIX issue, not an Open Source issue, forking was going on a long time before open source.

    perl has been Perl 5 for about 8 years or something, Java has been through a lot of discontinuities in that same time period.

    I still think Sun should hold onto Java though, it''s too focused already. Reserve open source for broad xml initiatives that couldn''t be done any other way.

    NipAndTuck 03/26/04 11:27:09 AM EST

    "My assets"? Gee, I thought it was the Java COMMUNITY Process that has built Java to where it is today. Maybe all those people did all that work and gave it to Sun to be their assets? How nice of the rest of the industry!!

    Francisco D''Anconia 03/26/04 06:03:43 AM EST

    Henry, don''t you think Sun has the right to conserve its assets? They belong to Sun, after all. I think everyone acknowledges Sun has the right to keep it, even tho they spend all their time whining that Sun shouldn''t.

    Henry Roswell 03/26/04 06:01:25 AM EST

    Uh Scott. Isn''t that what IBM did do with their tools - they open-source''d their Java tooling by creating Eclipse. Why should they open-source DB2 ? It''s a database they develop and is commercial. Java is a programming language and should not be commercial. IBM has backed it and contributed a lot of IP to it, and they have their Java based commercial tools as do you. At least we know your true colors now - it used to be that Sun said they were scared of Microsoft fragmenting Java which was FUD, but now we know you just don''t want to give up your "assets".

    guru 03/25/04 01:11:44 PM EST

    IBM basically would like to kill Java or control Java with their head count. If IBM wants something like Java as open source, they can feel free to invent a great technology like Java and open source it. They should not demand Sun on what to do with their invention. Java is Sun''s registered trademark and logically Sun has all the right to do whatever they want with it.

    metlin 03/25/04 11:55:01 AM EST

    Microsoft does not really consider Perl or Python to be as serious a contender as Java.

    What do you think really inspired Visual Studio .Net? Microsoft has everything to gain by killing it - it would only more people to use their platform.

    Right now, Java gives people the freedom of platform - if in any way killing it or changing it in a way that makes it beneficial to MSFT, they WILL do it

    maugt 03/25/04 11:53:50 AM EST

    Perl isn't forked to hell. Nor is python. Nor are many open source languages

    metlin 03/25/04 11:52:41 AM EST

    There is nothing to stop Microsoft from having their own "Windows-only" forked version of Java. And nothing to stop from the GNU/Debian crowd to have their own "puritanical" version. And nothing to stop from IBM to have their own "enterprise-ready" version of Java.

    If you notice, even in case of Linux, Linus and a handful of others actually maintain the core kernel code. In case of language, it would be difficult to have this kind of a central point of control - the forking would be really hard to control, and would only lead to more confusion and more complexity, not to mention serious incompatibility issues - all of which flies against the very principles that Java has been built on.

    javahat 03/25/04 11:50:51 AM EST

    Java as a core language is fine. It's libraries are decent. What's more, it is infinitely extensible through the addition of third party libraries.

    Why would you need an open source Java?

    tarponbill 03/25/04 11:49:18 AM EST

    For once I agree with McNealy. If there were anything MS could do to kill JAVA they would do it. Why the rest of the open source software community doesn't recognize what is going on is beyond me.

    Forking JAVA would spell death to the portability. MS would have their fork the first day, don't you think?

    IMHO the OSS companies ought to embrace JAVA. It is the best defense preventing against Visual Basic, or visual anything, from taking over the world. It is also portable.

    But if VB wins, what will Linux do then? Ask MS to port VB to Linux? That ought to be interesting.

    Question 03/25/04 07:59:42 AM EST

    "Giving customers the freedom to choose the solution that best meets their business needs." -- quoted from Sun's own web site on "Linux from Sun".

    So why doesn't Scott McNealy like "forking"!! Let the customer decide.

    continued... 03/25/04 07:57:36 AM EST

    There was a time when Java's license prevented abuse by Microsoft, but that time has passed. C# is Microsoft's new approach to "embrace and extend" Java, and the only effective way to counter it is to make Java fully open-source now, before C# inexorably crushes Java. The writing is on the wall yet again -- don't let Java die the same lingering death that NeWS suffered! Sun, learn from your mistakes.

    Deven 03/25/04 07:21:47 AM EST

    I can understand Sun's initial reluctance to open-source Java years ago -- Microsoft would have (probably successfully) embraced and extended Java, as they indeed tried to do. At the time, the closed license was beneficial.

    Here's the compelling reason for Sun to open-source Java now -- Microsoft no longer has an incentive to embrace and extend Java. They've done an end-run around the Java license by reimplementing a virtually identical language and calling it C# instead of Java. Microsoft will keep pushing C# over Java, and they're already successfully stealing away significant mindshare from Java. Microsoft has proven their ability to (illegally) leverage their monopoly position to acquire new markets. I hate to say it, but in the battle of C# vs. Java, the smart money is probably on C# unless something changes.

    cheesybagel 03/25/04 07:20:41 AM EST

    Java will never succeed with Sun holding an iron grip over it. IBM, currently Java's biggest supporter outside Sun, has already stated so. The Linux vendors have said so. The simple fact is that computer languages need to be vendor neutral to be a long running, wide ranging success.

    willdennis 03/25/04 07:20:07 AM EST

    You don't have to be Sun to open source Java! Anyone can do it.

    In fact - several people like http://gcc.gnu.org and http://www.kaffe.org are.

    Leave Sun alone. If you want it open source then go code it yourself or join the people who are.

    skapare 03/25/04 07:17:44 AM EST

    I see no reason to even bother using Java anymore. It's been a royal pain where PHP and Python have not been. Open sourcing it may have breathed some life back into it, but ... well ... that didn't happen as I see.

    Open-Source DB2?? 03/25/04 07:17:12 AM EST

    I'm not sure how much a database product would benefit from community involvement. IBM has already ported it to just about everything. The free (as in beer) aspect would probably kill off Oracle and SQL Server pretty quick, though.

    grahamsz 03/25/04 07:02:25 AM EST

    Java is open in a way that we can only dream of Windows being open. It's not controlled by a single entity, it's APIs are excellently documented, and anyone can build a functionally identical replacement.

    Azureflare 03/25/04 07:00:26 AM EST

    It is sad that they don''t want to open up Java, but really, in the end, it comes down to business strategy. And at this point in time, it just doesn''t make good business sense for Sun to throw away their last trump card.

    Eberlin 03/25/04 06:59:21 AM EST

    Sun still contributes to OO.org stuff, but they remain at the very least lukewarm to OSS. They offer Linux because their customers ask for it, they say. They package a Java Desktop where the word "Java" seems a bit out of place...I think banking on name recognition more than anything else. They killed off the cobalt servers. Just not very Open Source-friendly as far as their PR campaign seems to be going.

    eric 03/25/04 06:57:21 AM EST

    > "We''ve been around the block many times on open
    > interfaces, open systems implementation, compatibility.
    > Nobody has more experience on community development."

    And most of those open interfaces and open systems have gone nowhere, because they weren''t truly open standards.

    When was the last time you used Suntools? OpenLook? NeWS?
    Sun has quite a history of inventing new interfaces, then abandoning them because competing open standards achieved more traction in the marketplace.

    If they''re not careful, C# will do exactly that.