For those readers that might have missed the big news, Sun announced they were releasing their implementation of Java under the open source GPL license. I’ve probably spent far too much time reading the different coverage but in my books David Berlind has the best analysis and InfoQ had the best early coverage.
So how does all this impact Eclipse? I am sure much smarter people in the Eclipse community will have more insight but a couple of thoughts.
1. This is just good news for the Eclipse and the entire Java community. Who can argue that more open source software, especially Java, is not a good thing. At a minimum it will open doors in the Linux and Free Software communities. More people using Java can only be good for Eclipse.
2. The choice of GPL seems like the most logical choice for Sun. Obviously, if they had chosen a more BSD/Apache/Eclipse style license, it would have been easier for the Eclipse community to embrace. However, Eclipse today ships on top of Linux, so I can’t see this being a big problem. The one interesting angle is that it might actually allow organizations buildling RCP based applications to create a complete bundle and not require the JRE as a separate install. I am no lawyer, but with the classpath exception, this does seem like it is possible.
3. Not surprisingly, Sun has made a tight tie-in with open source Java and NetBeans. (Remember they have been pushing NetBeans to anyone that downloads the JDK for at least the last 2 years.) They seem to be providing via the NetBeans update center, a version of the source code that is easily downloadable and buildable in NetBeans.
I will make a fearless prediction that someone in the Eclipse community will do the same for Eclipse. Doug has already talked about doing a tutorial for CDT. Sure it would be nice to have Sun provide the Eclipse files directly from OpenJDK but it really isn’t in Sun’s best interest. A good analogy is when Sun wanted Eclipse to run on Solaris they actually provided the commiter to make it happen.
If the Eclipse community values having the open source Java available in Eclipse project files, someone will step up to make it happen. I guess one questions that remains, is will the openJDK community accept such a contribution. Governance does matter but Sun still needs to decide how such decisions would be made.
Overall, congratulations to Sun. A big, bold move that some people wanted a lot sooner but they have done it. Now time will tell the success of the move.