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Red Hat has lured two of the brains behind JRuby, Charles Nutter and Thomas Enebo, who once worked at Sun Microsystems.

The duo are joining the Linux distro shop to expand their work on JRuby, Java Virtual Machine (JVM) languages and OpenJDK, Nutter tweeted.

Nutter called out the opportunity to actively contribute in OpenJDK – an open-source implementation of the Java language.

“We're incredibly excited about the move and all the opportunities at Red Hat,” Nutter said.

Red Hat was an early supporter of OpenJDK under Sun. Today it participates in the project and has signed the OpenJDK Community TCK License Agreement, receiving access to the Java Compatibility Kit.

Nutter and Enebo are leaving Engine Yard, a JRuby. Ruby, PHP and node.js Platform-as-a-Service company they joined from Sun. They are respected for their expertise in JRuby and for their programming chops, and their move highlights Red Hat’s apparent emphasis on cloud and attempt to move further beyond being purely a Linux-distro operation.

Red Hat is pushing its own vision for the “open cloud” with OpenShift. The idea is that OpenShift comes with a selection of open source languages, frameworks, and middleware – so no lock-ins. Java and JRuby are two of the languages supported by OpenShift, so it seems Red Hat wants to continue developing and enhancing its cloud to support these and to attract early adopter programmers.

Created in 2001, JRuby is an open-source Java implementation of Ruby, and Nutter – along with Enebo, Ola Bini and Nick Sieger – is one of its core maintainers. Sun hired Enebo and Nutter in 2006 as the industry began thinking about allowing languages other than just Java to run in the JVM. They left Sun ahead of Oracle closing its acquisition, citing “uncertainty” resulting from the potential deal.

On joining Sun in 2006, Nutter blogged:

The primary goal is to give JRuby the attention it really needs. The potential for Ruby on the JVM has not escaped notice at Sun, and so we'll be focusing on making JRuby as complete, performant, and solid as possible. We'll then proceed on to help build out broader tool support for Ruby, answering calls by many in the industry for a "better" or "smarter" Ruby development experience. I'm also making it a personal priority to continue growing the JRuby community, foster greater cooperation between the Java and Ruby worlds, and work toward a "whole-platform" Ruby-on-JVM strategy for Sun.

It seems Sun’s JRuby baton has passed to Red Hat, with Red Hat now seeking to contribute more to Java through OpenJDK. ®

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