A strange thing happened to me last week during my normal weekly (sometimes daily) refresh of my debian unstable distribution. A very unusual package showed up in the “New in Repository” list: Sun JRE 5. There were various binary and source packages, though I didn’t dig down to find out exactly what that source was. It was probably the JDK source for the class libraries, not the JRE source itself. Anyway, this seems to me to be great news. The Java world, which on the one hand has had all this intense open source energy, has largely been shunned by the the leaders of the open source distributions because of licensing. Sun may yet open source Java itself, but finding a way to make Java an important open source language seems like a really important first step. The irony that c# was supported better under Debian than Java always struck me as amazing.
Well no more.
They apparently still have a major mind share battle to win though.