Sun seeks open-source ideas

Sun seeks open-source ideas

Sun Microsystems Inc. is leading an effort to do for peer-to-peer computing what the Hypertext Transfer Protocol and HTML did for the Web.

In Project JXTA, Sun is developing an open-source set of file-swapping protocols that can run on multiple devices, said Juan Carlos Soto, community manager for the project's Web site, at www.jxta.org.

Peer-to-peer computing is nothing new. 'The first time you plugged two computers together, it was peer-to-peer,' Soto said.

The rise of TCP/IP as a common protocol in the 1980s led to reliable networking, he said. Standardization on HTTP and HTML a decade later did the same for the Web.

'I believe we're at a similar crossroads today for peer-to-peer,' Soto said. 'We need a little order in the chaos.'

All are welcome

Sun's chief scientist, Bill Joy, set up a team to work on a common platform in 2000. But one company could not build a platform alone, Soto said, so the team started an open-source project to which anyone could contribute.

JXTA uses a slightly modified version of the Apache Software Foundation's open-source license. Application developers must give JXTA credit.

Since www.jxta.org went live last April, more than 7,500 members have contributed, most of them individual developers, Soto said.

The JXTA platform lets so-called peers come online, identify themselves, find other peers and organize as a peer group. Through a peer pipe, JXTA creates a virtual network on top of an existing network, independent of the network connection or IP address.

JXTA users who belong to a peer-to-peer group can share files, chat with each other or simultaneously work on the same document.

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