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Sun to fund open-source Java efforts

The computing giant announces a $3 million scholarship program to help software developers build open-source implementations of Java standards.

Sun Microsystems is working to make good on its promises to the open-source community.

Sun on Tuesday announced a $3 million scholarship program to help software developers build open-source implementations of Java standards. The money is aimed at helping programmers pay for Sun's technical support services as they undergo Sun's stringent Java compatibility tests, said Glen Martin, a Sun senior marketing manager. The program is expected to help fund 30 development efforts a year for three years, he said.

The new scholarship stems from a spat Sun had earlier this year with key a open-source group called the Apache Software Foundation, which accused Sun of making it difficult for open-source groups to participate in the Java Community Process by which Sun and others govern the future of Java. "Open source" means every software developer can view the source code for software, modify it, and use it for free.

Sun, however, has resolved most, if not all, of the open-source community's concerns. Under an agreement hashed out in March, Sun is permitting open-source implementations of Java standards.

Under the new scholarship program, non-profit groups, universities and qualified individuals can apply for scholarships to help defray the costs of Sun's technical support services while undergoing the Java compatibility tests.

A panel of three judges will oversee the scholarship program: Rob Gingell, chair of the Java Community Process; Ben Laurie, an Apache board member; and Doug Lea, a computer science professor at the State University of New York. In addition to giving away scholarships for tech support, the panel will also have the power to give away the Java compatibility test suites.

Jason Hunter, Apache's representative to the Java Community Process, said the test suites could cost up to $50,000 to $100,000 for each implementation of the Java standard. Applications for the scholarships are available at Sun's Java Web site.