Many years after the first calls came from developers begging Sun Microsystems to release its Java programming language as an open standard, the firm has finally acquiesced. This week, Sun announced that it will openly post the source code to various versions of Java, allowing hackers to modify the designs of the systems and make improvements.

"Sun believes deeply in creating communities and sharing innovations and technologies to foster more participation," a statement on Sun's Web site reads. "Today in a historic move, Sun is opening the door to greater innovation by open-sourcing key Java implementations--Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE), Java Platform Micro Edition (Java ME), and Java Platform Enterprise Edition (Java EE)--under the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2), the same license as GNU/Linux."

With this release, Sun can claim to be the world's largest contributor of open-source software code. The company previously released open-source versions of its UNIX-based Solaris OS, the OpenOffice.org office productivity suite, Project Looking Glass, NetBeans, and other products.

Sun says it's making the source code to Java SE, which runs about 6 million lines of code, and Java ME available immediately. Other Java versions will be released over the next few months. Sun says that more than 3.8 billion machines are running Java code worldwide.

For more information and to access the Java source code, please visit the Java Web site.
http://www.java.net