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IBM cool to Sun's open-source Java plan

IBM on Monday urged Sun Microsystems to participate in existing open-source Java projects at the Apache Foundation rather than start new ones.

Java creator Sun on Monday announced that it is releasing its Java desktop and mobile software under the General Public License (GPL) version 2.

The code will be implementations of standards called Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE) and Java Platform Mobile Edition (Java ME). The code to Sun's Java server is available through the GPL now as well.

After years of internal debates and public calls from IBM to make Java open source, you would think that IBM would be overjoyed at the news.

Not so.

IBM on Monday issued a statement attributed to Rod Smith, vice president of emerging Internet technologies in the IBM Software Group, who penned the open letter in 2004 requesting Sun to make Java open source.

Smith said that IBM supports all open-source licenses approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI). But he noted that there are already two projects around open-source Java.

There is Harmony, a project in the incubator phase at Apache to build an open-source edition of Java SE. IBM joined the Harmony project shortly after it was launched in 2005.

Meanwhile, Motorola two weeks ago said that it will contribute code to start a Java ME project at Apache .

"In light of the Apache projects, we have discussed with Sun our strong belief that Sun should contribute their Java technologies to Apache rather than starting another open-source Java project, or at least make their contributions available under an 'Apache friendly' license to ensure the open-source Java community isn't fragmented and disenfranchised, instead Sun would be bringing the same benefits of OS (open-source) Java to this significant and growing open-source community," the statement said.

Sun chose the General Public License, rather than the Apache License, in part to ensure that there is compatibility with Linux, which is under the GPL, according to the company.

It has not created specific projects around its planned code contributions and has left the question of project governance unanswered at this point. Sun published a detailed FAQ on its open-source Java plans Monday.