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Sun begins releasing Java under the GPL

by Matt Lee Contributions Published on Nov 15, 2006 12:21 PM

BOSTON, MA — Wednesday, November 15, 2006 — The Free Software Foundation (FSF) welcomed the public commitment from Sun Microsystems to distribute its proprietary Java platform under the GNU General Public License (GPL) [1] — the world's most widely used free software license.

FSF president and founder Richard Stallman said, “I think Sun has contributed more than any other company to the free software community in the form of software. It shows leadership. It's an example I hope others will follow.”

Sun accompanied its announcement with the immediate release of code under terms of the GPL for several Java components, and has committed to releasing the remainder in the near future. [2]

With this move, Sun has made a valuable contribution to the free software community. In 2004, Stallman warned, “Your program, though in itself free, may be restricted by non-free software that it depends on. Since the problem is most prominent today for Java programs, we call it the Java Trap.” [3] To escape the trap, the FSF made the GNU Classpath team's development of a free Java implementation a priority project. [4]

Now, Sun has begun disarming the “Java Trap”, turning it from a pitfall into a valuable foundation for future free software development.

[1] "GNU General Public License",
[2] "Sun Opens Java",
[3] "Free But Shackled — The Java Trap",
[4] "GNU Classpath",

About the Free Software Foundation: The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software — particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants — and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software. Their Web site, located at, is an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support their work can be made at They are headquartered in Boston, MA, USA.

Press contact: For more information about this announcement or to schedule an interview, please contact Brett Smith or John Sullivan at (+1 617 542 5942) or email

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