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GlassFish is a Java application server project that allows developers to generate enterprise technologies that are convenient and scalable, as well as additional services that can be installed based on preference. It can be an easy way to add an interactive web front end into Java programs, and makes it really easy to give Java programs Internet access while doing all the heavy lifting.
GlassFish is the reference implementation of Java EE (Enterprise Edition), so it supports JMS, JavaServer Pages, Enterprise JavaBeans, RMI, JPA and servlets. Because of its nature, developers can create scalable and portable applications that easily integrate with legacy systems and technologies. The Java EE is namely an abstract API which everyone is free to implement. There are several Java EE implementations available, either full-fledged implementations like Oracle Glassfish 3, JBoss AS 6, etc, or partial (only JSP/Servlet) implementations like Apache Tomcat 7, Eclipse Jetty 8, etc. Glassfish Web Profile is also a partial implementation.
Built on a modular kernel powered by OSGi, GlassFish runs straight on top of the Apache Felix implementation. It also runs with Equinox OSGi or Knopflerfish OSGi runtimes. HK2 abstracts the OSGi module system to provide components, which can also be viewed as services. Such services can be discovered and injected at runtime.
GlassFish Server 4.0 is developed through the GlassFish project open-source community, which provides a structured process for developing the GlassFish Server platform that makes the new features of the Java EE platform available faster, while maintaining the most important feature of Java EE: compatibility. It enables Java developers to access the GlassFish Server source code and to contribute to the development of the GlassFish Server. The GlassFish project is designed to encourage communication between Oracle engineers and the community.
If you intend to develop only with JSP/Servlet, then Glassfish Web Profile is sufficient. If you intend to develop with help of a Netbeans IDE, then pick the bundle with Netbeans. But instead of Netbeans you can also just choose Eclipse or IntelliJ as IDE.
GlassFish is an open-source application server project started by Sun Microsystems for the Java EE platform and now sponsored by Oracle Corporation. It is free software, dual-licensed under two free software licenses: the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) and the GNU General Public License (GPL) with the classpath exception.