At JavaOne this year Sun announced that they had plans to open source parts of the Java platform, although at that time the details were thin. This week, Sun have announced that they will be open sourcing two critical parts of the Java platform, the javac compiler, and the Hotspot virtual machine – both of these will be released to the open source community by the end of 2006.
Up until this year Sun has resisted community pressures to open source Java, over worries that the language and the platform may ‘fork’ into different branches of Java that may diverge in their language support and become incompatbile. This is not something that happens often in the open source world, and if it does it is usually because of good reasons, to address particular very specific needs.
It will be interesting to see how the Java platform evolves past this point, and longer term what this will mean for Sun and their involvement with the Java platform.