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Java IoT: Article

Apache Foundation Incites Java Mutiny

It wants the Java compatibility test kits (TCKs) that Sun promised in a letter of intent so it can certify Project Harmony

The highly respected Apache Software Foundation (ASF), recently re-elected in a 95% landslide to the Executive Committee (EC) of the Java Community Process (JCP), is using its bully pulpit to incite mutiny, calling on other JCP members to vote down Oracle's next proposed version of the language, Java 7.

It wants the Java compatibility test kits (TCKs) that Sun promised in a letter of intent so it can certify Project Harmony, its breakaway open source version of Java Standard Edition for Linux, and it wants an end to the Field-of-Use (FOU) restrictions that Sun slapped on Java and Oracle means to continue.

It's threatening to walk out on the EC and slam the door behind it if it doesn't get its way.

It said on its blog Tuesday that "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 [Java Specification Requests] - 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 [Java Specification Participation Agreement] 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."

Harmony has been anything but harmonious and this argument has been going round and round for years.

Even if Apache had the TCKs, which are needed for IP reasons, they'd still be useless to it unless Oracle rescinded the FOU restrictions because the FOU restrictions make it impossible for Harmony to be distributed under an Apache License.

And Oracle ain't going to rescind the FOU restrictions, especially now that it's taken Google to court over using a subset of Harmony in Android.

Oracle reportedly made its position clear behind closed doors last month. It's not going to grant Harmony a Java license no way, no how.

Even IBM broke its horns on this one.

IBM was the mainstay of Harmony development, but when Oracle sued Google over Java IBM realized that Oracle - like Sun before it - was never going to make the TCKs available to the renegade Apache project. Harmony would never be certified. Oracle would never lift the field-of-use restrictions that forbid Google to use Java SE for mobile widgetry like Android. And, after years of fruitless struggle, IBM threw in the towel.

It sided with Oracle and abandoned Project Harmony in favor of OpenJDK and the official Java Standard Edition (SE) in return for a promise of influence and some unidentified reforms.

So the chances of the Apache Foundation prevailing are slim to none and if mutiny ensues, well, Oracle can dump the whole Executive Committee, or JCP for that matter, in a leaky rowboat.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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