Java is open, but is the process?
September 12, 2011 —
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Today’s Java is a very different beast than it was just five years ago. First and foremost, Java today is owned by Oracle, not Sun Microsystems, which Oracle purchased. Java is also an open-source project under the GPL, yet perhaps ironically, the open-source-loving Apache Software Foundation has pulled away from the project itself and resigned from the Java Community Process.
Java is still popular around the globe, but it is now also used to run other languages, such as Ruby and Scala. And the JCP itself is now pushing standards through faster than it ever has, yet it has mostly been reduced to a rubber-stamping organization.
Yes, Java has changed. The Apache Software Foundation, long infuriated over the licensing rights associated with the Java Test Compatibility Kit, has turned its back on the JCP. But this was about more than just the TCK, said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation.
“I want to make it clear that I don’t fault the Apache Software Foundation for anything they’re doing or the position they’re taking. It’s obviously been incredibly frustrating for them to go though the changes that have happened over the last few years, and to start up the Harmony project and not get the support must be frustrating,” he said.
Apache Harmony, an open-source implementation of Java SE, is at the center of the ongoing lawsuits between Google and Oracle. Google uses Harmony libraries in its Android platform, and Oracle has alleged patent infringement on the part of Google for this very reason. This scenario is exactly what Apache was trying to avoid by not passing Harmony through a TCK. The licensing terms of the TCK restrict the use cases that a compatible Java can be used within, and the Apache folks on the JCP felt that these restrictions would leave Harmony users open to litigation.
But it would seem that the TCK didn’t even need to enter the picture for litigation to take place. Milinkovich is also certain that, no matter what Apache does, it will not be changing the licensing terms on the TCK.