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Sun Embraces Linux With New Java License

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sun Microsystems made its name on Solaris, but the company is reaching out to the upstart on the Unix block, Linux, with a new licensing system designed to allow smaller Linux distributions to bundle Java with its operating system.

The announcement came during the keynote speech kicking off its annual JavaOne developer conference here at the Moscone Center.

Sun will allow the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE) 5.0 to be distributed by GNU/Linux and OpenSolaris developers under a new license, the Operating System Distributor's License for Java, or "Distro License for Java" (DLJ).

Sun said it developed this license in conjunction with numerous GNU/Linux communities. It allows distributors to ship Sun's Java SE 5.0 Java Development Kit and Java Runtime Environment (JRE) as installable packages for their operating systems.

The DLJ allows the different distributions to define the packaging, installation and support for the JDK within their distribution.

Several smaller but growing projects plan to sign on to redistribute the JDK, including the Ubuntu, Gentoo and Debian distributions, as well as a number of OpenSolaris distributions.

OpenSolaris is an open source project for its Solaris operating system, launched last year.

Ubuntu is growing very fast in popularity, and Sun recognized this by having the founder of the distribution, Mark Shuttleworth, announce support for the DLJ.

During a press conference after the keynote, newly anointed CEO Jonathan Schwartz said the old license agreement for Java was too restrictive of smaller distributions.

"That license was designed to prevent bad things, but it also made it bad for Linux distributions to ship Java," he said. "We've eliminated those restrictions."