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Top Java exec quits Sun

Open source split

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Speculation is growing that one of Sun Microsystems' most influential figures has quit following the decision to open source Java.

Vice president and fellow Graham Hamilton has left Sun after eleven years, weeks after Sun finally released Java under the General Public License (GPL). Java father James Gosling, also a Sun vice president and fellow, is taking over Hamilton's role according to Sun.

Sun refused to comment on why Hamilton left, however reports say Hamilton objected to open sourcing of Java. His concerns appear to center on the ability to maintain compatibility.

Hamilton was one of the designers of the Java Community Process (JCP), a group whose role developing Java and maintaining certification, is under question in the new world order.

Hamilton was an influential figure at Sun, having taken the lead on Java Standard Edition (Java SE). He was also working on ease of development for Java SE and Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE).

In previous interviews, Sun has deflected concerns over the continued compatibility of Java by claiming the platform is mature and that the self-interest of the market would prevent forking. Sun, though, is clearly taking a gamble that will alarm the old guard. Hamilton joined Sun in 1995, as Gosling's team created Java.

Sun believes that putting Java under GPL will open the door to greater distribution through Linux. A quick look at the Linux market, though, should have made it clear to Sun the kind of fragmentation possible. Clearly, Sun hopes that Java becomes the equivalent of some kind of core Linux kernel, which everyone writes to, with vendor modifications happen in the surrounding layers.®

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