Sun may not think very highly of the Eclipse development platform, as Java guru James Gosling made clear in an interview last week, but it appears the company is willing to contribute code to the project anyway.

For the first time this week, a coder from Sun has committed code to the Eclipse tree, according to Eclipse director Mike Milinkovich. Sun's Suresh Raju has added code needed to get Eclipse running on x86-based Solaris, Milikovich said on Thursday.

"When you think of it, this just makes really good sense. The Solaris x86 team is working to enable one of the most popular development tools for its platform. As they should," said Milinkovich in a blog post entitled "Hell Froze Over?"

"I am very happy to see that sound business decisions are replacing rhetoric in the relationship between Sun and Eclipse. This is a small step forward, but it is a very tangible and pragmatic one," he said.

Sun and Microsoft are the only two major software vendors that have continued to find reasons not to join Eclipse, a popular open source development environment. Sun continues to promote its own NetBeans as a direct competitor to Eclipse.

Indeed, though Sun helped out in this particular case, it was solely to make sure that Eclipse would run on the Solaris x86 platform, and Sun confirmed it has no intention of joining Eclipse, echoing Gosling's comments last week. "It would be a big step down. NetBeans was an open source project a long time before Eclipse ever came out," Gosling said at the time.

As Gosling reiterated, one of the major problems Sun has with Eclipse is its endorsement of the the Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT), which he says destroyed that organisation's interoperability story. "It's a toolkit based on the Windows API and getting it to run on other platforms is problematic," he said.

Ironically, SWT is exactly the component Sun is currently helping Eclipse out with - thus the title of Milinkovich's post.

InfoWorld's Paul Krill contributed to this report.