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16 November 2010, 13:14

Oracle asks Apache to reconsider its position on Java

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Java Logo Oracle considers the Apache Software Foundation's (ASF) request that other members of the Java Community Process (JCP) Executive Committee vote against Oracle's proposed standardisation of the currently developed Java 7 a cause for further development delays. In an open post Don Deutsch, Oracle's Vice President of Standards and Architecture, asks Apache to "reconsider their position and work together with Oracle and the community at large to collectively move Java forward."

Last week, the Apache Software Foundation had taken its ratification as a member of the JCP Executive Committee as an opportunity to criticise Oracle's licensing decisions regarding the Test Compatibility Kits (TCKs) for the Java Standard Edition. The ASF threatened to terminate its relationship with the JCP if Oracle doesn't change its restrictive approach. Free Java implementations such as Apache's Harmony require these licences to obtain full Java certification.

Apache representatives have repeatedly pointed out that, in their opinion, particularly the "Field of Use" restriction violates the conditions set out in the original Java Specification Participation Agreement (JSPA)PDF. This restriction is the reason why Harmony cannot truly claim Java SE compatibility and be distributed under an open source licence. The agreement apparently states that a specification lead mustn't prevent licensees from developing or distributing independent implementations. Neither must a specification lead refuse to license a specification-compliant implementation free of charge. Deutsch, on the other hand, writes that Oracle "provides TCK licences under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms consistent with its obligations under the JSPA".

The Apache Foundation's response last night to Oracle's call to work together to drive Java forward was brief: "The ball is in your court. Honour the agreement." In its short statement, the open source organisation included a link to an open letter to Sun written in 2007, when the licensing issues first became an issue.

Oracle's current TCK licensing policy differs from the policy the company pursued before it acquired Sun. When, in 2007, members of the JCP asked that licences be issued without the "Field of Use" restriction, Deutsch as Oracle's representative had supported their request. In October 2007, Oracle announced at a JCP meeting in Bonn that it would continue to refuse the Harmony project access to the TCK licences. Later on, this was one of IBM's reasons to stop sponsoring the project and instead support Oracle's OpenJDK.


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