Sun has backed up an announcement that its Solaris server operating system will have an open source flavour by making a similar promise for its Java technology.

Speaking exclusively to Builder AU, Sun’s Java technology evangelist Raghavan Srinivas said an open source version of Java “will happen,” but declined to elaborate on timelines or specifics of licence arrangements.

“We haven’t worked out how to open-source Java — but at some point it will happen,” Srinivas said. However, he noted -it might be today, tomorrow or two years down the road”.

It is believed to be the first time Sun has explicitly stated its intention to open-source Java. Sun representatives have previously been quoted as saying the Java technology is “open enough” under it’s current format. Some have described any additional moves as “weird,” encouraging incompatible standards.

The Java community is split over whether open-sourcing Java is beneficial.

Earlier this year, open-source advocate Eric Raymond called on Sun to open source the Java technology for greater acceptance within the developer community and freedom to exploit its potential. Free software activist, Richard Stallman further warned developers of the “Java trap” and encouraged developers to use a free Java development environment. Big Blue, who arguably have a greater financial interest in the Java platform than Sun, have also called on Sun to open-source Java.

However, others, including Sun, believe the main hurdle and concern is the future of the Java brand and compatibility. The main fear is that Java technologies could be forked and the -write once, run anywhere” attraction to Java will be lost, making use of the programming language and platform less attractive. Many see the current Java Community Process (JCP), that entails the evolution of Java by industry experts from Sun, IBM, Nokia and BEA to name a few, as an imperfect but necessary process.