Red Hat signs on to Sun's open-source Java project

Will align its own Java SE JDK implementation with Sun's OpenSDK

Red Hat has signed on to participate in Sun Microsystems' open-source Java Standard Edition (SE) project, OpenJDK, and to coordinate its own Java development efforts for Linux with the project.

Red Hat has signed Sun's OpenJDK contributor agreement and will now align the work its done on its IcedTea project, which was its own implementation of some parts of the Java SE JDK, with OpenSDK, said Shaun Connolly, vice president of product management for JBoss.

IcedTea brought together the Fedora project with key Java technologies in a Linux environment, and currently provides open-source alternatives for the few remaining proprietary sections in the OpenJDK project, he said. Fedora is a Red-Hat sponsored Linux project.

Red Hat also has licensed the OpenJDK Community Test Compatibility Kit (TCK), which allows Red Hat to build an implementation of OpenJDK and test it to ensure its compatible with the implementation the project itself develops, he said. The Java SE JDK, the basis for OpenJDK, includes the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) as well as tools for developing Java applets and applications; it is the software that is the basis for desktop Java applications.

As part of its participation in the OpenJDK project, Red Hat eventually will create a compatible OpenJDK implementation for its Enterprise Linux distribution. It also will also use OpenJDK to create a runtime for its JBoss Enterprise Middleware that is optimized for a Linux environment, according to the company.

Prior to its purchase of JBoss and its Java-based middleware last April, Red Hat and Sun were competitors in the OS market, and Red Hat wasn't very active in the community that supports Java development. However, now that the company is pushing its open-source strategy beyond Linux and using JBoss as its first step to get there, Java is becoming more integral to its overall product plan.

When it was an independent open-source company, JBoss was an active member of the Java Community Process (JCP), the formal process and group of companies that oversee the overall strategy of the Java technology. Earlier this month, Red Hat's Middleware division was re-elected to a position on the Executive Committee for the SE/Enterprise Edition (EE) project within the JCP, a position that lasts three years and is the one JBoss occupied as an independent company.

Red Hat ships JBoss middleware with its Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and includes three different implementations of the Java SE JDK from IBM, Sun and BEA Systems, Connolly said. The company will continue that strategy in the near term, but eventually will include an open-source version of the JDK that it can make changes to dynamically for customers without having to worry about when third-party companies will update their software, he said.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

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