Recently I’ve received a bunch of private correspondence from people confused/worried over the change in the default Java packaging for Linux. For many Linux distributions, the official Sun/Oracle version of Java has been packaged up as the default Java for the platform. However, due to a recent licensing change, this will no longer be the case! So, is this a positive or a negative thing for the Java and open source ecosystem? Read on for my take on it
Dalibor Topic announced that With Java SE 7 and JDK 7 being released, and with OpenJDK as the official Java SE 7 reference implementation, that it was finally time to retire the non open source “Operating System Distributor License for Java” (DLJ).
What does it mean for me?
The knock on effect of this is that Linux distributions will on longer package Oracle’s Java (== OpenJDK wrapped up in some proprietary bits and pieces) as the default Java. This can/will cause problems for some Java users initially as there are a smattering of bugs (especially in the Swing UI libs) still left in the OpenJDK that affect programs like PCGen. However, some Linux distributions had already taken this path some years ago, most notably Ubuntu and the last remaining bugs are being cleaned up pretty quickly.
Positive or Negative?
Overall, I think this is a positive step in the right direction for free and open Java on Linux platforms. This sentiment was welcomed by well known open source advocate Simon Phipps in a twitter post. The fact the the OpenJDK is now the reference implementation (combined with efforts to open up the issue tracker for the OpenJDK) means that means that a vast host of Java/Linux end users can now directly improve ‘official Java’ for all of us.
I want the Oracle version!
Linux users who need to use the proprietary parts of the Oracle JDK 6 or Oracle JDK 7 binaries can of course as usual simply get the gratis download at http://oracle.com/java under the same terms as users on other platforms. However, if it is due to a ‘bug’ that is discovered I strongly encourage those users to submit a bug report to the OpenJDK project, so that any issues can be fixed for all of us.
Opinions and further comment is welcome!