RMS, recently, on if SUN free Java

In a November 1st interview, Richard Stallman was asked for his thoughts on if Sun free Java (as they have done today). Below is a transcript of that section of the interview. The whole interview his at the following URL:


Interviewer: the last time we spoke, you mentioned two projects that you were very interested in. One was Gnash, the GNU flash, and the other was the open or free version of Java. It looks like SUN is really on the verge of releasing Java under a more open licence. What’s your opinion on that? Do you think it’s a good thing.

Richard Stallman: That’s the right thing to do. Of course. Everybody developing software should make it free software. If you’re distributing a copy of a program to someone else, you should do it in a way that respects his freedom.

SUN should have made Java free software before, but better late than never. If they made Java free software now, then they’ll be doing the right thing now, and I think that it’s more important that they do the right thing now than to reprove them for having done the wrong thing in the past.

Y’know, it’s more important to focus on correcting the problem than on complaining about it. So if SUN makes Java free, then I’ll say that there’s nothing wrong anymore.

Interviewer: And if SUN does go and make Java free, what’s that mean for the current project that’s in places for a free Java?

Richard Stallman: Well, we’ll have to see. There’d be no need for the goal of reimplementing Java for the sake of freedom, but some of the code that’s been developed may still be useful. And maybe we could start merging things, and so on.

But basically, if SUN’s Java implementation becomes free software, it will be a part of our community, and we would treat it like any other part of our community, based on what it is now, and not holding grudges on things that were wrong that were done in the past.

And meanwhile, the people who have worked on free Java implementations might be disappointed, but their work will not have been for naught. If SUN makes SUN’s Java platform free, we can be pretty sure that a large part of the reason for this is that people have been working on free java implementations. So they would be able to take part of the responsibility for the result.


Ciarán O’Riordan,
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