Sun Microsystems took a step toward making Java open source by opening its Java 3D version along with its 3D desktop, Project Looking Glass, at its annual JavaOne conference in San Francisco. The company also reconfirmed its commitment to open sourcing Solaris for X86.
Michael Hagerman, CEO of MAKE Technologies, a Vancouver-based application developer of standards based architecture solutions, said he suspects this could be Sun's way of getting its feet wet before taking the full plunge into open source with Java. He said his company has been lobbying Sun for about six months to make Java open source, but said Java 3D would make the least impact going open source compared to its siblings J2EE, J2SE and J2ME.
MAKE is not alone in urging Sun to open source Java. IBM has also been pushing Sun in the same direction.
These first open source moves have won praise from Hagerman in addition to other Sun customers.
"I'm really happy about Looking Glass being open sourced because we were looking at using it in one of our upcoming projects," explained Joseph King, COO and founder of Calgary-based Catalyst Realtime He said Catalyst was actually spending time and energy trying to emulate Looking Glass but now that it has gone open source, the company's developers can simply use Looking Glass instead.
King said he is not sure that open sourcing Solaris on X86 is a good way for Sun to compete with Linux. He suggested Sun should embrace Linux rather than turning to open source Solaris.
But there was more than open source on Sun's mind at Java One. The company launched the second beta of its J2SE 5.0, formerly known as Project Tiger, which features better ease of use, new application monitoring and management, plus more support for PC rich-clients.
Additionally, Sun made available its Java Studio Creator, which is designed for enterprise developers new to Java. The visual development tool is built on Sun's NetBeans integrated developer environment (IDE), said John Loiacono, Sun's executive vice-president of software. The tool runs on Solaris, Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems. Users can receive Java Studio Creator free with a purchase of a $US99 Sun Developer Network subscription.
Features of the tool include data-aware user interfaces that automatically connect to data sources dragged on to them, The interfaces provide quick, visual access to SQL queries and enable the creation of J2EE 1.3-compatible web applications that run on any web server supporting JavaServer Pages 1.2 software.
MAKE's Hagerman said Java Studio Creator will help developers reduce the amount of time it takes to produce Java code.
"Java is everywhere," said Sun president and COO Jonathan Schwartz.
Sun also said it is also moving from a pay-up-front business model to a subscription-based pricing model. In this new subscription world, users would pay for Sun's software and services and receive the hardware for free.
Sun CEO Scott McNealy unveiled a gimmick to get users excited about this pricing model. Sun put up 12 AMD Opteron servers running Solaris 9 on eBay, the online auction site, with a starting bid of one cent. The auction, which ends July 2, includes a three-year subscription to Java Studio Enterprise plus three years of SunSpectrum Silver support. Users can view the auction at www.ebay.com/sun.
At press time, eight of the 12 systems were up on the eBay site, with bidding ranging from $1,551.02 up to $1,675.02. McNealy said the package is worth about $9,000.
By Tuesday attendance at this year's JavaOne conference had reached about 14,000 — the largest turnout ever, according to McNealy. He added that there are between four and four and a half million Java developers in the world, growing at about 30 % per year, kiboshing the possibility that Sun's light is fading.
"We aren't going anywhere, we're rock solid," McNealy said.