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Eric Bruno

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

OpenJDK, Open Solaris, and JavaFX Petitions

July 18, 2010

I recently read two interesting blogs about Oracle and open-source software. The first was written by Stephen Chin (a huge proponent for JavaFX), and the second was written by fellow Dr. Dobbs' Guru, Al Williams.

Chin has started a petition to persuade Oracle to open-source JavaFX (see his blog here). This is a valiant effort with lots of supporters so far, all of whom have voiced their strong will to see JavaFX opened up in order to drive greater acceptance and use in the industry.

Williams has been experimenting with Open Solaris, and is carefully watching to see what Oracle's future plans are for the open-sourced Unix OS. Specifically, he's hoping to see the project remain open-source, and become even more open where unique features like ZFS are able to enter the community (i.e. Linux) more freely. Read his blog here, which goes into greater detail on the subject.

And let's not forget that the OpenJDK is still out there. As much as I support my fellow bloggers in their efforts and hopes and requests, I'm left to only speculate about the future of these open-source projects. What are Oracle's true feelings and plans for legacy Sun open-source projects such as Open Solaris and the OpenJDK? Oracle just doesn't seem like an open-source kind of company, and it certainly doesn't like to share any details about the futures of any products, in any way, shape, or form.

As much as I'd like to see it, I can only assume that there won't be an open-source version of JavaFX coming in the near future. But we need to remember that it's Oracle's right to do as it pleases with its own IP. Also, would open-sourcing JavaFX truly help drive developer adoption of the technology? I believe that what most developers desire is a community approach to the future direction of JavaFX and related tools. This is where the JCP helped in the past, and it's also what helped drive Java's adoption when it was young and growing. Perhaps it's time for Oracle to hand JavaFX over to the community via the JCP, or an improved version of the JCP, where community-driven enhancements and adoption can be better fostered?

Therefore, I think if Oracle decides not to play in the open-source world as far as Java and JavaFX are concerned, at least they should help foster a community-driven approach to their futures through an improved community process.

I'm left to wonder if this sort of approach for Open Solaris would help drive its adoption as well. However, Oracle's goals for Open Solaris clearly must be aligned with those of its Linux offerings, so I can only assume Oracle will have very different plans for its two Unix OS's. We'll just have to wait and see.

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