“OpenJDK being a certified implementation is a good thing,” said Magnusson. “The fact that you can find distributions of Linux that now ship with Java right out of the box, this is a good thing. But it’s complicated. The transition of ownership of Java from Sun to Oracle, certainly at that time, changed the dynamic of the ecosystem. That, I think, changed a lot about what was going to be possible in and around open source.”
The OpenJDK, however, is not a place where lawsuits play out, said Georges Saab, vice president of the Java Platform at Oracle. Of the Oracle litigation against Android, he said, “I can’t really comment around anything on the lawsuit, but I would say that OpenJDK is an open community where lots of different vendors and people from different walks of life come together and contribute in the interest in making the code and reference implementation super strong. Everyone has had something good to contribute, and they have a chance to do so. There’s nothing in OpenJDK that’s going out and trying to hurt some other technology.”
Magnusson still sees a reason to work outside of Oracle, however. “One of the nicest benefits of what we were trying to do with open-source Java in Harmony was the ability for Android to take the runtime library we built and use it,” he said. “I think Android has been an amazingly transformative technology that is made possible, in part, by the work we did in Harmony. It’s a bit of a mess, given the legal tangling that erupted form Oracle, but that also points back to that shift in power dynamics.”
Certainly Android is a large part of the future of Java. And beyond Android, the large systems behind the Internet of Things are likely to be Java-based as well. The future is, indeed, bright, with more than a billion new Java users coming onto the platform since Android was introduced.
Gosling is certainly proud of his language, but he said the beauty of Java is not the language itself. He said that the beauty is in the fact that Java “still lets people build cool things. Java is not magical in and of itself. It is a tool for people to build stuff. It’s the hammer and the nail. Some of the things that turn out to be easy to do are things like AI, and other fairly intelligent systems.”