Oracle rebuffs Sun's NetBeans

Total Eclipse of the Sun

Weeks after the companies pledged their software love for another 10 years, Oracle has quietly - but firmly - rejected Sun Microsystems' NetBeans open source Java technology.

In a Q&A published on the Oracle website, Thomas Kurian, Oracle senior veep for server technologies development, paid due respects to NetBeans, but said his company continues to back its own JDeveloper integrated development environment (IDE) and the Eclipse framework.

"We have no plans to adopt either NetBeans or any of its technology. Any statements to the contrary by anyone else in the industry are not true," he said.

Kurian also said Oracle is watching NetBeans "very closely".

His Q&A follows this month's love-fest between Sun and Oracle that was labeled "Snoracle" by critics and saw Oracle boss Larry Ellison join Sun's Scott McNealy to renew partnership vows for another 10 years. As part of the ceremony, Oracle signed up for a Sun Java license for the next decade.

But in a post-Snoracle post, Sun's second-in-command Jonathan Schwartz said Oracle was adopting and endorsing NetBeans.

Judging by Kurian's rejoinder, NetBeans doesn't appear to have made it into the pre-nups.

Schwartz's evangelism is understandable. Sun has become politically wedded to NetBeans, which it bought in 1999. In recent years, the company has resisted calls to abandon NetBeans and has clung to the project despite the tide of vendors and developers flowing inexorably towards the open source Eclipse Foundation.

Eclipse currently features nine major open source projects, 50 sub-projects, at least 568 plug-ins, and has the backing of 115 member companies since formation in late 2001 by IBM and others. NetBeans is home to 16 projects and 35 downloadable modules, while Sun continues to insist NetBeans is alive by quoting numbers of downloads and resisting the urge to join Eclipse.

The ever-focused Oracle, though, has clearly decided its best software growth strategy is to align with Eclipse and promote JDeveloper. Oracle needs popular and full-featured Java tools to get developers building for its middleware, applications and database stack.

With Eclipse growing and Oracle making JDeveloper 10g Release 3 available for free download last week, it's clear why Kurian felt compelled to state Oracle's direction, and to put into context just how far Oracle is backing NetBeans. ®

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