Matt Asay believes that Sun’s rumored move to put the Java SE reference implementation under the GPL shows that “Sun is one of the few BigCo’s” that really gets open source.

After I wiped the milk off my screen and keyboard from the laughter, I wondered what Matt meant by “gets it”.

So, let’s start with this we “get it” quote from Sun’s James Gosling:

“The source code is being open sourced, but the process of defining the spec is still the Java Community Process. In addition, there are massive test suites, and we will do an immense amount of testing. We expect that people who care about reliability and compatibility with the spec will use our version.”

Strange, if any project able to pass the Java SE TCK tests can claim compatibility with the Java SE spec, why would a customer choose one implementation vs. another based on compatibility issues???? Is this just Sun spreading FUD or do they just not “get it”?

As Gier points out, when you contribute to OpenSolairs or GlassFish you give Sun joint copyrights over the code, which enables Sun to re-license your contributions under any terms they wish, including a commercial license. Wow, that sounds like a company that “gets it”; You know, gets how to maintain control over code from anyone in their ‘community’. Anyone think that Sun will handle the open sourced Java SE reference implementation any differently???

Maybe, I’m confused, and by “gets it”. Maybe Matt really means “gets how to confuse the market into thinking they are being good community members, but in fact are just out to maintain control of their own IP and claim ownership of other people’s IP, simply by developing software in the open, but with a closed, restrictive community”.

At least commercial vendors are upfront about the fact that they control their development community (i.e. everyone who works for the company).

That’s why my vote for a Java SE implementation is Apache Harmony, a truly community based product, from a community that “gets it” (but not in the way that Sun “gets it”, thankfully!)