Just one in 10,000 developers will benefit from Sun opening up the source code for its Java development tool, according to the Ovum Group, writes Caroline Davis.
Sun announced it would release the source code for the community edition of its Forte for Java development tool last week.
But Ovum analyst Gary Barnett dismissed Sun's move saying, "A tiny percentage of people using the community edition will want to change the source code. By doing this, it's trying to buy mindshare and friends in the open source community."
Andrew Barnes, marketing manager for Sun's Forte division hit back, saying over 150,000 people had downloaded the product's binary code, which was made available from Sun's Web site in the middle of 1999.
"It will benefit vendors rather than users," he said. "It will allow vendors operating in the same space as Sun to access code and offer value-added add-ons."
This is the first time Sun has offered a Java product on a truly open source licence. In the past it has offered a more restrictive community source licence, which charges a fee for companies using modified code for commercial purposes.
Although Sun said the announcement "marks the first step in a major Sun initiative to make Java tools and components available to drive innovation", Barnes would not comment on the next step. He said he had not seen anything that implied Sun would make Java open source.
Sun bought Forte for Java community edition from NetBeans in 1999. It is a low-end tool and does not offer features such as strong support for distributed computing.
Sun plans to make source code for the development tool available on its Web site "within 90 days" under the Mozilla public licensing model.