Sun’s choice of the GPL, and RMS in the webcast

Two positive aspects of choosing the GPL for Sun’s Java are that it is a copyleft licence, and that it means Sun’s project will be able to share code with the GNU Compiler for Java and GNU Classpath.

Sun have released under version 2 of the GPL, but have said that they will consider version 3 when it is finalised. Since GPLv3 should be compatible with the Apache licence, this would mean the above Java projects could also share code with the Apache Harmony project (which was launched and chose its licence after GNU Classpath and GCJ were working under the GPL).

Sun’s webcast announcement was made in a format that requires proprietary software, but the video will be made available in a free format in the near future. UPDATE: Ogg Theora videos are there now.

Richard Stallman is there in the webcast. Someone has re-encoded that file to a format that can be played with a free software video player: here it is

It’s only a minute, so here’s a transcript:

The GNU general public licence is the most popular and the most widely used software licence, used for some 70% of all free software packages. The special thing about this licence is that it’s a copyleft licence. That is to say, all versions of the program must carry this licence. So the freedoms that the GNU GPL gives to the users must reach all the users of the program, and that’s the purpose for which I wrote it. To ensure that all users of the software have the freedom that users should have.

I think Sun has, well, with this contribution, have contributed more than any other company to the free software community in the form of software. And it shows leadership. It’s an example that I hope others will follow.

UPDATE: Some people have asked how the developers of free software Java implementations feel about this. I heard from a GNU Classpath developer "boy are we happy hackers now!". Their positive comments can be read at