Tuesday 9 November 2010

ASF ready to leave JCP

The Apache Software Foundation board has released a statement regarding the JCP.

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) is proud to announce that it has been ratified for another three-year term on the Java Community Process (JCP) Executive Committee. Receiving support from 95% of the voters, this election allows the ASF to continue its 10 year effort to help bring transparency and openness to the JCP as well as ensure that Java specifications are able to be independently implemented and distributed under open source licenses.

We are grateful for the strong support from the community, and believe it is a validation of the work the ASF is doing in the JCP. Our efforts to transform the JCP into a truly open specification ecosystem help strengthen the value of Java for everyone -- for implementors of open source projects such as those found at the ASF and elsewhere, for students, educators and academics using Java for teaching and research, for independent software vendors that build innovative products and services on Java, and for commercial users in all areas of economic activity that depend on Java to run and grow their businesses.

Through the JSPA, the agreement under which both Oracle and the ASF participate in the JCP, the ASF has been entitled to a license for the test kit for Java SE (the "TCK") that will allow the ASF to test and distribute a release of the Apache Harmony project under the Apache License. Oracle is violating their contractual obligation as set forth under the rules of the JCP by only offering a TCK license that imposes additional terms and conditions that are not compatible with open source or Free software licenses. The ASF believes that any specification lead that doesn't follow the JCP rules should not be able to participate as a member in good standing, and we have exercised our votes on JSRs -- our only real power on the JCP -- accordingly. We have voted against Sun starting and continuing JSRs, and have made it clear that we would vote against the JSR for Java SE 7 for these reasons.

In light of Oracle Corporation failing to uphold their responsibilities as a Specification Lead under the JSPA and breaking their signed covenants with the Apache Software Foundation that are the conditions under which we agreed to participate in the JCP, we call upon the Executive Committee of the JCP to continue its clear, strong and public support for Java as an open specification ecosystem that is a level playing field for participants in order to ensure that anyone -- any individual or commercial, academic or non-profit entity -- is able to implement and distribute Java specifications under terms of their choice. Specifically, we encourage the other members of the JCP EC to continue with their support of our position regarding Oracle, and vote accordingly on the upcoming Java SE 7 vote.

The ASF will terminate its relationship with the JCP if our rights as implementers of Java specifications are not upheld by the JCP Executive Committee to the limits of the EC's ability. The lack of active, strong and clear enforcement of those rights implies that the JSPA agreements are worthless, confirming that JCP specifications are nothing more than proprietary documentation.

I think there is little to add (I've reproduced verbatim). I do hope that Oracle take one last look at what is about to happen here and offer some form of meaningful compromise. It may be too late, but the impact of this is potentially serious.

This new statement appears to superceed the previous statement.

For the record, although I am an Apache member, I was not party to the specific decision making in either statement.

Stephen Colebourne
Apache Software Foundation member, speaking personally
Oracle Java Champion, speaking personally
Not a committer on Harmony or OpenJDK


  1. I understand that ASF wants help from other EC members to block the JSR for Java 7, unless they obtain a TCK, which would allow them to release Apache Harmony under an open license, which would legally allow anyone (like Google for example) to fork Java and build virtual machines using part of Harmony code. Please correct me if I don't understand correctly.

    In my opinion, it would be bad for industry and frustrating for developers that Java 7 to be again delayed. And would be bad to have Java code compiled once for a compliant JVM and once for whatever other Harmony fork.

  2. It is sad it has come to this. The Java platform is losing credibility fast, and the really scary thing is I do not have any indication Oracle is worried about this.

  3. @ No, it is not about "forking". Apache wants to write their own tested and certified Java implementation, so if something runs on the Oracle Java, but not on Harmony Java it is certainly considered a bug.

    This has not much to do with Google.

  4. Stephen Colebourne10 November 2010 at 01:02, The ASF wants to certify Apache Harmony as a compliant implementation of Java SE. Were Google to then take the code and use it, any alteration by Google would result in them needing to have their own TCK - at cost. Thus, discussing Google here is not key to the TCK question for Apache.

  5. Christ Apache, will you please grow up. I can admire your idealism, and to some extent I agree with you, but I am pretty tired of this reckless, childish, unbelievably irresponsible behaviour. You may have every right to feel aggrieved, but you have blocked the JCP for years, prevented Java 7 from getting shipped, and have spread more FUD than Microsoft could ever have managed. The damage you are doing to Java is catastrophic – way, way worse than .NET, way, way worse than RoR,.

    Don’t for one second think that the pathetic turn-out from the JCP gives you some sort of mandate to trash the work of the millions of people who work with Java every day.

    If you won’t back down then please take your ball and go home; lets hope the majority of your Java projects will find new homes outside of the foundation.

  6. @milkmonitor: The «reckless, childish, unbelievably irresponsible behaviour» is an Oracle's characteristic, alone.

    In what grounds did Oracle denied the promissed TCK to a fully conformant java impl, Harmony?

    It was an absurd and unfair deliberate act on behalf of Oracle.

    And it is my belief that such shamefull acts must be answered - or else, the perpetrator would keep on doing more shameful acts like this.

    In a word, it is that simple: Justice.

  7. @
    I don’t know what the legal ins and outs of the field of use restriction clause are, but I assume it is fairly hard to resolve, since Sun weren’t able to do so over several years, and Oracle hasn’t been able to in the few months it has had either. Given that I wouldn’t simply assume that it could wave a magic wand and make the problem go away.

    Apache can, however. It could simply say OK, we don’t think this right but we’ll certify Harmony under said restriction. Or it could say “Ok, we don’t think this right, so we’ll continue to develop Harmony uncertified.” Or better (way better) it could stick Harmony in the attic and follow IBMs lead and go and join OpenJDK.

    Apache has made its point. Its actions are its alone. It has been willing to hold the entire Java world to ransom because it doesn’t feel that a license it was offered was acceptable. Me, I don’t think the ironically named Harmony is worth that. Other open source implementations of Java seem to manage just fine - IcedTea , OpenJDK itself.

  8. "Comment authentication failed!"


  9. milkmonitor: It's annoying how many years this has gone on, but that was a cause of Sun stalling not Apache delaying. Now Oracle are in charge they're going about it with a more focused attitude. After some ingestion time, the stalling stopped and an answer provided.

    Things can finally move on, and if it means the specs are only implemented in GPL/CDDL and companies have to start paying Oracle more money, so be it.

  10. I don't understand why Apache would give up what leverage it has by quitting the JCP. I guess maybe virtually all the Harmony people are IBM'ers who are finally giving up and switching to OpenJDK.


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