The struggle to open up Java completely is finally coming to an end.

Following the announcement of Sun’s plans to make Java free and open under the General Public License (GPL) at JavaOne 2006, there have been a few struggles on the path to open source. At the time of the OpenJDK release in May last year, around five per cent of the code — the portion not owned by Sun — was still closed.

Simon Phipps, the chief open source officer at Sun Microsystems, said: “We released under the GPL everything we had the rights to release under the GPL and that was last summer. There were a couple of holdouts there. One was the area to do with raster graphics and 2D graphics. That turned out to be owned by a company that didn’t want us to release that code as open source. We negotiated with them and because they’ve said ‘yes, you can open source the code’, I can tell you they’re Codec […].

The only element that’s left now is actually a sound-related component within Java. We finally decided that the vendor that’s involved there just isn’t going to play ball and we’re rewriting the code from scratch. That’s going to be done within the next couple of months.”

Phipps says Java is expected to be completely free within the coming few months.

“I’m expecting that certainly by the end of this year and hopefully sooner we’ll have all of the source code for Java under the GPL”, he said.

Red Hat also introduced its IcedTea project in June 2007, with the aim of making OpenJDK a part of Fedora, as well as other Linux distributions, without constraints.

The IcedTea project reached a breakthrough this week when the latest OpenJDK binary included in Fedora 9 passed the Java Test Compatibility Kit, a set of tools designed to verify whether a particular implementation is consistent with the Java specification.

OpenJDK, now a part of Fedora 9, contains all the necessary Java APIs of a Java SE 6 implementation. The plan is to now make OpenJDK, a part of the next Red Hat Enterprise Linux edition — 5.3.