Open sourcing leads to incompatible forks?

; Date: Wed Aug 16 2006

Tags: OpenJDK

This article: ( IBM takes potshots at OpenSolaris has some interesting things to say about open source projects being more than the license that allows freedom. It's about the community that's built around the open source project. However I don't want to go into the specifics about IBM's characterisation of the Open Solaris community.

At the end is a rather interesting quote:

And making IBM's Power processors an open-source project poses risks, Handy said. Specifically, the freedoms of an open-source approach could mean others take the processors in a different direction, so software wouldn't necessarily run on all models. "You don't want the architecture to not be compatible with itself moving forward," Handy said.

This line of reasoning sounds very familiar to me.

This line of reasoning sure sounds a lot like what we used to say in defending the decision to not open source Sun's JDK implementation. This line of reasoning sure sounds a lot like the major fear that's seen in open sourcing Sun's JDK, namely that it would lead to incompatible forks in the market.

But we have a lot of people reassuring us -- the market highly values the compatibility of Java, and that the market highly values compatibility even in the face of highly valuing the freedom granted by the OSI-compatible licenses.

Hmmm.... Food for thought, eh?

I sure don't have any conclusions on this, it's just an interesting point to ponder. Does IBM really think open sourcing leads to incompatible forks?

Source: (

About the Author(s)

David Herron : David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.