The rumor has it that Carlos Ghosn, the French-Lebanese business genius who turned Nissan-Renault into the 3rd or 4th worldwide automaker, made a point of using properly chopsticks shortly after he became CEO of NISSAN, so that to gain respect from his co-workers.
Little things do matter.
In the open source world, many grandiloquent declarations of free and open source commitment have been legitimately questioned by apparently minor details: Microsoft refusing the GNU GPLv3 on their open source repository CodePlex or Google refusing the GNU AGPLv3 (Affero) on open source repository Google Code are good examples of such troubling discrepancies.
Short of a slow start and a few hiccups, SUN has done pretty well so far. The company seems genuinely committed to open source and free software. Here is a story that shows that SUN commitment runs even deeper.
A few weeks ago Eclipse people identified a discrepancy between the set of compiled classes in the shipped Jar and the set of CVS source files.
A long time ago, when large software dinosaur companies were roaming the internet oblivious of the arrival of free and open source, a developer (CVS log and LinkedIn suggest the guy might be currently working at Google) had this great idea for using quickly a few files explicitly tagged proprietary by SUN.
* Copyright (c) 1998 Sun Microsystems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
* This software is the confidential and proprietary information of Sun
* Microsystems, Inc. ("Confidential Information"). You shall not
* disclose such Confidential Information and shall use it only in
* accordance with the terms of the license agreement you entered into
* with Sun.
Why not slurp dynamically the source code from the URL so that to integrate it into the Jar? Those files are still accessible here.
At a time when FUD enthusiasts are warning about free and open source doomsdays, FOSS commiters started to scratch their heads. Many, many projects were using Rhino. Well, and there was also this tiny little fact that Rhino is released under the GPL.
A bug was filed by an IBM committer late February and the open entry was finally closed a few days ago with SUN deciding to release the code under a BSD-like license.
It might have been but a small issue. However, it shows that SUN is listening to the FOSS community and that real commitment matters. Incidentally, it also shows that this commitment must be a cultural trait shared by all SUN engineers:
Do you know of any other company who could have kept an URL alive for over a decade?