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18 January 2011, 16:08

Oracle may remove JUnit from NetBeans

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On behalf of about 800,000 active users, the platform architect of the NetBeans Java development environment, Jaroslav Tulach, has called on the developers of the popular JUnit test tool to place their Java technology under a more contemporary open source licence. In his posting in the test tool's Yahoo group, Tulach writes that JUnit's current Common Public License (CPL) is "sort of archaic", and that he doesn't know of any other similarly popular project still using this licence. As an alternative, Tulach suggests using either the Eclipse Public Licence (EPL), which is largely compatible with the CPL, or offering JUnit under a dual licence (EPL, CPL).

The developer's request came after Oracle's legal team expressed concerns and apparently advised against a CPL-licensed JUnit being distributed with the NetBeans development environment, which is sponsored by Oracle. The EPL doesn't appear to create any conflicts. Tulach said that the next NetBeans release is currently on hold, and that the developers are prepared to remove JUnit if its licence isn't altered or expanded. "Silly, I know, JUnit is [a] necessary part of any serious Java development,". The developer added that there is not much he and his team can do, except attempt to get the JUnit developers to change their licence, which seems unlikely from reading the discussion in the news group.

Initiated by the Eclipse Foundation in 2004, the EPL is, as the Eclipse Foundation's Mike Milinkovich pointed out, the successor to the CPL. The Eclipse Foundation retired the CPL in 2009 and since then projects such as Mondrian and olap4j have made the transition to EPL by simply re-licensing the code under the EPL; this step is possible because a clause in the CPL allows for re-licensing under successor licences.

Most importantly, the newer licence corrected, by removal, what was regarded as an overly restrictive clause in the licence. The EPL is accredited by the OSI and by the Free Software Foundation. It is considered a business-friendly licence and even allows the entire code to be distributed under a different open source licence or as proprietary software as long as the EPL code added complies to the EPL.


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