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Sun Microsystems is changing its Java license to encourage greater adoption of Java among developers on Linux, while announcing that a "monumental" release of the enterprise Java platform has been nailed down.

The company said it is hammering out changes to its Java Runtime Environment (JRE) license that will make it easier to distribute the runtime with Linux. The JRE is a part of the Java Development Kit (JDK), which features Java tools for programming in Java.

"This will make it easier for the...developers to get their hands on the runtime with the operating system they are using. We are broadening the distribution of the platform," Sun Enterprise Java Platform vice president Karen Padir said. Padir was unwilling to provide further information, saying Sun would provide details at this month's annual JavaOne conference in San Francisco.

Reform is the latest change designed to remove lingering hurdles for the open source community in using and developing Java. Sun and the Java Community Process (JCP) kicked things off in 2002 by signing an agreement with the Apache Software Foundation permitting open source Java specifications. A key part of the agreement revolved around use of Test Compatibility Kits (TCKs) with open source code, which contain contributing companies' intellectual property.

IBM weighed in in 2004, much to former Sun chief executive Scott McNealy's obvious dismay, campaigning vocally for Sun to open source Java. IBM claimed the move would encourage greater development of Java applications on Linux by removing intellectual property constraints from the language and platform. McNelay accused IBM of suffering from "Java envy".

Sun's latest licensing work comes as the JCP on Monday ratified "one of the most significant updates in years" to Java - Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) 5.0. Java EE 5.0 wraps in support for Web 2.0, and makes programming in Java easier and less time consuming with the addition of features like Aspect Oriented Programming (AOP). Sun claimed it has re-written sample Java EE applications in Java EE 5.0 using 60 per cent fewer Java classes, 80 per cent fewer XML files, and 30 per cent less Java code.

The biggest area of change is Enterprise Java Bean (EJB) 3.0, which can turn Plain Old Java Objects (POJOs) into web services using persistence, support for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) in Java Server Faces (JSF) 1.2, and features the introduction of a Java persistence API layer that uses an open source edition of Oracle's TopLink technology for cleaner linking of a Java object to a database.

There is no indication from Java vendors, though, when they will deliver Java EE 5.0 products, as licensees will only get the all-important finished compatibility test suite at JavaOne. That left BEA Systems, Oracle, and JBoss - licensees joining Sun at Thursday's announcement - outlining just vague public support plans.

JBoss said it plans a community release of its application server as part of JBoss 5.0 in the second half of 2006, BEA will announce an EJB 3.0 technology preview at JavaOne, while Oracle promised announcements about its technology and developer preview plans for the rest of the year at JavaOne. ®

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