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JBoss Joins Sun's Java Community

The JBoss Group, owners of the popular open-source application server software on the Java platform, recently joined Sun Microsystem's Java Community Program (JCP).

Bill Burke, chief architect at Atlanta-based JBoss, said the decision to join the JCP came after it decided to join the group as a company; a couple employees were already in the program as "individual experts," one of the membership types in the program.

Burke told internetnews.com he feels JBoss has a lot to offer the Java community, and will work particularly on two Java Specification Requests: Java Data Objects and the Java Temporary Caching API .

The arrangement is not without a smidgeon of irony, given the fact JBoss has been fighting a highly-publicized battle with Sun over licensing fees for the J2EE testing binary, which begins around $25,000 for the testing compatibility kit.

In the case of JBoss, its expected licensing would range in the six figures. Company executives feel they shouldn't have to pay for the J2EE license because they are an open-source company. As an open-source company, giving its software away as a free download, executives feel they should get the license for free -- as do educational and open-source entities.

Sun contends the company is not an open-source (read: not-for-profit entity) project, but a company that sells its services and support for the free, open-source JBoss Application Server. To date, the application has more than five million downloads.

Despite the arguments back and forth, JBoss Chief Executive Officer Marc Fleury recently said in an interview he was confident he and Sun would come to an agreement over the licensing fees in the near future.

What makes the heated debate over for-profit and non-profit so interesting is the unannounced decision to join the JCP as a commercial entity, not as a non-profit organization. In a report at eWeek.com, Fleury said he paid $5,000, which is the rate for commercial companies. If the company is so adamant over its claim to being an open-source company, why did they join the JCP as a for-profit company?

Burke wouldn't comment on the matter, saying, "we didn't think that people would pick up on this. It wasn't a PR thing."