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Sun apologizes to developers of Java on Linux


December 10, 1999
Web posted at: 10:47 a.m. EST (1547 GMT)

by David Orenstein

(IDG) -- Sun Microsystems Inc. apologized Wednesday to members of Blackdown, the open-source development group that made the port of Java 2 to Linux possible.

Sun, already under fire for withdrawing Java from standards consideration (see "Sun abandons Java standards effort," link below), sought to put out another fire it and Inprise Corp. started when the companies failed to give Blackdown credit in this week's announcement of the port (see "Sun, Inprise plan to port Java 2 to Linux," link below).


"Our stance is an apologetic one,'' said Rick Schultz, Java 2 standard edition product manager at Sun. The company, he said, values Blackdown's work and wants to continue its relationship with Blackdown.

Blackdown has been porting Sun's Java technology to Linux for years and contributed substantially to the port of Java 2 as well.

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It's unclear whether Sun and Inprise need Blackdown's expertise to complete future ports, or whether the Linux community would endorse a Sun/Inprise port that didn't include -- and acknowledge -- help from Blackdown. As an alternative, IBM has ported older Java technology to Linux.

Several Blackdown developers said earlier today they have just about had it with Sun.

"The recent press releases were a slap in our face,'' said Juergen Kreileder. "Sun wants us to continue our work and also to port extensions APIs to Linux. Why should we do this if they don't honor our work?"

Another key Blackdown developer, Kevin Hendricks, resigned from the project in protest, developers said. Schultz said he called Hendricks but Hendricks didn't say that he would reconsider.

Blackdown developer Paul Michael Reilly said: "Having watched the Sun/Blackdown relationship for over three years, my take is that it will die because it will take a major change from Sun to heal this deep wound, on top of hundreds of small cuts. I see this kind of change as very unlikely. Also, there are fast becoming other choices, most notably IBM."

However, Blackdown developer Karl Asha said the dispute might not have a big effect in the long run: "As the Linux community goes, I suspect they'll follow the most stable, most recent, and best-performing JDK [Java Development Kit], regardless of who produces it."

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Year 2000 World
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Sun Microsystems' announcement of the Java 2 platform for Linux
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