Sun's Brewin toasts Java

New software co-CTO talks about open source, other developments

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RB: The T1000, T2000, but there's also another one. The old one.

IW: Is Sun going to be profitable this quarter?

RB: I can't answer that. But you had to ask.

IW: This is another kind of boilerplate question. When is Sun going to join Eclipse Foundation?

RB: At this point we have no plans of joining the Eclipse Foundation.

IW: Why not?

RB: That's a good question. There's a couple of different answers to that. I'd have to think about that actually, why not? Because it's interesting. The other question that's related to that is, Is Sun going to abandon NetBeans? And the answer for that is emphatically no.

IW: Anything else you wanted to bring up at this point?

RB: Well, nothing other than to say that Sun software seems to be -- right now there seems to be -- a little bit of excitement in the air with Rich coming on board. And Rich Green, of course, is an old hand at Sun, having worked closely with him before he left and after he came back. One thing I think that's interesting is the time that he spent with Cassatt was very useful, because if you work in Sun for a long period of time and you haven't been exposed to say, what a small company has to go through in order to compete in the marketplace, I think it teaches you things. I think it teaches you about how hard it is to get in the door based on any recognition. You actually have to demonstrate quality and excellence and performance. And I think that's something that's very useful for Sun in general... Sun's a company that was built a lot on innovation and some really new and interesting ideas. I mean the whole network as a computer has become a reality. But you can't stop there. If you stop there, you're dead. It's like a shark. You stop swimming forward, you die. So I think that the attitude now at the executive level is one that we need to innovate and we need to change the rules. We need to change the way we're playing the game. Because that's how we're going to compete.

IW: How are you going to change the rules and change the game?

RB: Well, so open source is one of them. So we're open sourcing all of our software. It's a huge change. That's a huge step, to take what you considered all of your IP and just open it up, give it away. I think open-sourcing Java, specifically, is probably one of the larger ones. I mean obviously open-sourcing Solaris was a big one.

IW: When is open-sourcing of Java going to happen? We wrote that that it was going to happen in months, not years. When is it going to happen?

RB: It will happen as fast as we can.

IW: Which is when?

RB: I don't know the answer to that. My best guess is it will happen within the year.

IW: Within this year? Calendar year?

RB: No, probably by the end of this fiscal year, which for us is June.

IW: Why so long?

RB: The reason why is if we're going to open-source something, it's the same problem we have with Solaris, which is we need to go through the code line by line, we need to go through all of our legal agreements. We need to make sure that there are no encumbrances on that code. So if we're going to open-source the software, the people that use it have to be, for lack of a better word, safe. They have to be able to use that code safely without worry.

IW: And the issue is you're going to open-source it and maintain the compatibility?

RB: That would be the hope, although I would also hope that because it's open source, a larger number of folks in the community will help us do that.

IW: So we're looking at almost a year now?

RB: I said within the year.

IW: Next June would probably be around JavaOne timeframe next year?

RB: I think between now and then, and we will probably start releasing it. As we verify that this code is unencumbered, we'll probably release it. So it won't be the whole [platform at once]... We will take pieces, whether it's the JVM [Java Virtual Machine] or Swing or something like that and do those as they become cleared... It won't all be done by next June. I think that we will have pieces of Java open-sourced by then. But I don't know whether all of it will be. It's a huge body of code.

IW: So it could be after that?

RB: In totality, yes. It took us five years to do Solaris [via open source], to give you an example.

IW: What will be the first thing released open source and when?

RB: We did GlassFish, which is Java EE 5. We did that, and as far as Java SE code base, I don't know yet... I believe that we will have components of Java released into open source within the year... But not the whole thing. I think the whole thing will take a little bit longer. I'll be glad to be wrong, and I think that most of the people who are involved in the open source activities would love to have the whole thing done as fast as possible.

IW: And by some of the components you mean which?

RB: I would say JVM, Swing, the Web services stack, the Java runtime environment...

IW: So what would be first?

RB: That 's still to be determined, because that's still a step that's taking place right now. There's also a debate whether it's better to piecemeal it or to take three big things [the virtual machine, the runtime and Swing] and just do [them] all at once.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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