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<title>The Curious Incident of Sun in the Night-Time</title> Night-Time - GNU Project - Free 
Software Foundation</title>

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<h2>The Curious Incident of Sun in the Night-Time</h2>

<p><i>We leave this web page in place for the sake of history,
but as of December 2006, Sun is in the middle of <a
its Java platform under the GNU GPL</a>.  When this license change is
completed, we expect Sun's Java will be free software.</i></p>

         by <a href="http://www.stallman.org/">Richard M. Stallman</a><br />
         May 24, 2006.

         Our community has been abuzz with the rumor that Sun has made
         its implementation Java free software (or “open
         source”).  Community leaders even publicly thanked Sun
         for its contribution. What is Sun's new contribution to the
         FLOSS community?
         Nothing.  Absolutely nothing—and that's what makes the
         response to this non-incident so curious.
         Sun's Java implementation remains proprietary software, just
         as before.  It doesn't come close to meeting the criteria for
         <a href="/philosophy/free-sw.html">free software</a>, or the
         similar but slightly looser criteria for open source.  Its
         source code is available only under an NDA.

         So what did Sun actually do? It allowed more convenient
         redistribution of the binaries of its Java platform.  With
         this change, GNU/Linux distros can include the nonfree Sun
         Java platform, just as some now include the nonfree nVidia
         driver.  But they do so only at the cost of being nonfree.

         The Sun license has one restriction that may ironically
         reduce the tendency for users to accept nonfree software
         without thinking twice: it insists that the operating system
         distributor get the user's explicit agreement to the license
         before letting the user install the code. This means the
         system cannot silently install Sun's Java platform without
         warning users they have nonfree software, as some GNU/Linux
         systems silently install the nVidia driver.

         If you look closely at Sun's announcement, you will see that
         it accurately represents these facts. It does not say that
         Sun's Java platform is free software, or even open source. It
         only predicts that the platform will be “widely
         available” on “leading open source
         platforms”.  Available, that is, as proprietary
         software, on terms that deny your freedom.

         Why did this non-incident generate a large and confused
         reaction?  Perhaps because people do not read these
         announcements carefully.  Ever since the term “open
         source” was coined, we have seen companies find ways to
         use it and their product name in the same sentence. (They
         don't seem to do this with “free software”,
         though they could if they wanted to.)  The careless reader
         may note the two terms in proximity and falsely assume that
         one talks about the other.

         Some believe that this non-incident represents Sun's
         exploratory steps towards eventually releasing its Java
         platform as free software.  Let's hope Sun does that some
         day.  We would welcome that, but we should save our
         appreciation for the day that actually occurs.  In the mean
         time, the <a href="/philosophy/java-trap.html">Java Trap</a>
         still lies in wait for the work of programmers who don't take
         precautions to avoid it.

         We in the GNU Project continue developing the 
         <a href="http://gcc.gnu.org/java/">GNU Compiler for Java and
         GNU Classpath</a>; we made great progress in the past year,
         so our free platform for Java is included in many major
         GNU/Linux distros.  If you want to run Java and have freedom,
         please join in and help.


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Copyright article.</p>

<p>Copyright © 2006 Richard M. Stallman
<br />
This Stallman</p>

<p>This page is licensed under a <a rel="license"
Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License</a>.

Updated: License</a>.</p>

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<p class="unprintable">Updated:
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$Date: 2014/04/12 13:59:51 $
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