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Welcome to The Big Answer

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Joined: 2003-06-09

Two years ago, at JavaOne 2004, a one-hour keynote discussion called The Big Question considered the issue of whether, when, and how Sun should open-source its Java implementations. Here at, we set up The Big Question forum ( ) to continue that discussion.

Today, on November 13, 2006, Sun is beginning the release of its Java implementations under terms of the GPL. This is The Big Answer.

So we're opening up this forum to give you, the community members, a place to talk about today's release. What do you think about the terms, the timing, and goals of the release? What will it help you do? Are there other things that need to be done?

This is your forum. Tell us what you think.

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Joined: 2003-08-24

What is the implication for shipping a private JRE (bundled with a desktop application) stripped of more files than was previously allowed? Is this now allowed?


Joined: 2004-11-12

Subsets of the JDK are obviously not compatible (and thus to be avoided), but the GPL doesn't forbid them.

Joined: 2004-08-24

The way the opensourcing of Java is being done is superb. The license selection, as far as I know, was the trickiest part of the process. The "GPL with exception" sounds to me as the best one, but I can't find its final version anywhere. Is there any place where I can find the final opensourced Java licence?

Joined: 2004-01-30

thiagohp -

I believe the answer to your question, where is the text of the actual license, is in these two questions from the FAQ on

Q: Is GPL v2 an open-source license?
Q: What is the Classpath exception?

Is GPL v2 an open-source license?
Yes, see

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What is the Classpath exception?
The Classpath exception was developed by the Free Software Foundation's GNU/Classpath Project (see It allows you to link an application available under any license to a library that is part of software licensed under GPL v2, without that application being subject to the GPL's requirement to be itself offered to the public under the GPL.

Joined: 2005-11-07

As a student/newcomer to Java I'm not clear exactly what Classpath exception means. What I read on the Classpath site regarding a program or module that uses the GPL code:

An independent module is a module which is not derived from or based on this library. If you modify this library, you may extend this exception to your version of the library, but you are not obligated to do so.

Is a module still independent if it "extends" a class in the GPL code (i.e. "MyServlet extends Servlet"). Doesn't this mean that my code now has to be GPL? I haven't changed the GPL library I've just based my code on extending the GPL code. Please help clarify my view.


Joined: 2006-02-02

Basically this is the effect Sun and the Classpath project were going for with the "Classpath exception". (at least my take on it, *Warning: I AM NOT A LAWYER)

If you write java programs using a JDK that just happens to be GPL then you don't have to make your program GPL.

If you change the IMPLEMENTATION of java, like add methods to String or add classes to rt.jar then your code IS subject to the GPL. Really anytime you are making changes to the code that comprises the "java platform" you need to release your code under the GPL.

I would think 99.9% of all currently written java programs are not effected at all by the license change.

On the off chance that an entity has large amounts of code copied and pasted from the JDK sources, well, you were violating the commercial license agreement before, and now you are violating the commercial and the GPL.

Hope that helps.

Joined: 2004-11-12

Correct aberrant (though IAMNAL either)...

Since the code for the GPL class itself isn't modified by extending one of its classes in your application, there is no requirement to put your application under the GPL.

Joined: 2003-06-06

I guess we will find out but but are you going to distribute the TCK for java with the source code so that derviative works can still call themselves Java (TM) ?


Joined: 2004-01-30

This is addressed in the FAQ also:

Is Sun changing the terms under which it licenses the Java SE and Java ME TCKs?
Not at this time. Our efforts have been focused on making the source code available.

But you should also note that the test harness used for the ME tck at least is released. See

Joined: 2003-07-13

Congratulations to Sun for taking this step!

It goes a long way to strengthen the Open Source Community and the Professional Open Source Business Model.

Now more than ever Java has the credibility to Run Anywhere. Sun found a scalable development and business model to enable that.

Ivelin Ivanov