I've allowed my recent blog posts on the lack of a Java SE 7 platform JSR and the ASF-Sun dispute to simmer for a couple of weeks. Now, in this post, I'm going to draw on the public information available from the ASF on this topic.
Since all the quotes in this blog are taken from ASF sources (ie. one side of the dispute) I would encourage all readers to consider carefully whether they state fact or opinion. As always, I state that I'm an ASF member, but I'm speaking personally here. My aim is to bring this debate to a wider audience.
ASF board minutes
The ASF is an open and transparent organisation whenever possible. As such, the board meeting minutes for the ASF board are publicly available. As usual, certain items are kept private when sensitive, but most information is public, and the ASF-Sun dispute around Harmony can be traced.
Here is the first reference to the ASF deciding to ask for the testing kit for Apache Harmony.
So, back in 2006 there is evidence that Sun was offering a license with "identical terms" to the other 25 JSR testing kits that the ASF uses.
Now, just a few months later it is clear that a problem has arisen.
The face to face meeting referred to is described in the JCP meeting minutes of February 27th 2007. It was at this meeting that we now have a record of the vote (in the ASFs favour).
The interesting aspect is how Geir indicates that he described the issue first without any reference to the specifics of the ASF case. Only then was the ASF issue raised. This could be interpreted such that the 'Field-of-use' clause could be used against any JCP member, not just the ASF.
In this continuation, Geir clearly indicates that the ASF made efforts to use other groups to mediate before writing an open letter. Specifically mentioned are the Software Freedom Law Center and Eben Moglen.
The ASF have now adopted their stance of voting 'no' to Sun spec lead JSRs.
It is noted how other JCP members (companies) are starting to push for FOU-free licenses.
As far as I can tell, the results of this vote are not present in the JCP minutes. It seems reasonable to assume that if Geir was "satisfied" with the result that the vote was in favour of the ASFs position.
As far as I know, this constitutes information not previously reported on. The ASF, via Geir, asked Sun to submit the Javs SE 7 platform JSR in December 2007. As an alternative, the ASF offered to lead the JSR themselves. Again, it highlights the connection between the Apache Harmony dispute and the Java SE 7 JSR.
The point to note here is the "resolve" of other EC members, by which I'd interpret that the dispute is broader than just ASF vs Sun.
Sun did try to resolve the dispute here, but they clearly failed to address the root cause of the problem.
This provides more details on Sun's attempts to 'fix' the problem. The minutes indicate that the proposal from Sun wasn't a lot better than previous offerings.
The ASF formally rejects the latest attempt by Sun to 'fix' the problem.
Deadlock remains. But the effect is becoming more explicit.
Are there really acronyms for the dispute now?! Again, the message is that Java itself is being damaged here.
This seems interesting. Its clear that the exact wording of the terms in dispute appear to be fine at a first read. Yet, at least one corporate (and probably their legal department) has found an issue on closer examination.
This is a fairly detailed restatement of the issues involved. Motivation is indicated for Sun to continue in this battle despite the negative impact. Specifically it is mentioned that the limitations being applied are fundamentally no different to Sun trying to tell a competitor "how much to charge or what markets are acceptable".
It is also interesting to note that after over two years, the EC are still interested in this topic. And that the ASF have, perhaps understandable, deep distrust of any future promises made by Sun.
ASF JCP mailing list
Another source of ASF info is the open mailing list - jcp-open.
So, according to Geir (speaking personally on this occasion), the original version of the testing kit license was fine. It was normal. There was no dispute.
And then something changed which has caused this ongoing dispute. It seems fair to say that the dispute is quite deliberate on the part of Sun.
So, this is another action packed tour into the world of the lack of a Java SE 7 JSR and the ASF-Sun dispute. I know that there is lots of detail here (and more that I have omitted). And in some ways it doesn't tell us that much more than the previous blogs. But it does help to strengthen the overall view once you find the same information from different sources.
As always, please read and check my sources as this is a controversial issue, and especially as the quotes in this blog (but hopefully not the analysis) is solely from the perspective of the ASF.
Finally, I noticed that Joe Darcy's talk at JavaOne now has a title:
Yep - no 'Java SE 7' in sight...
Apache Software Foundation member, speaking personally
Sun Java Champion, speaking personally
Not a committer on Harmony or OpenJDK