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Apache Resigns From the JCP Executive Committee 136

Posted by timothy
from the I'll-resign-my-commission dept.
iammichael writes "The Apache Software Foundation has resigned its seat on the Java SE/EE Executive Committee due to a long dispute over the licensing restrictions placed on the TCK (test kit validating third-party Java implementations are compatible with the specification)."
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Apache Resigns From the JCP Executive Committee

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  • Sad ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @03:47PM (#34505394) Homepage

    Sad that it has to come to this ... I can't begin to say how useful the Apache libraries have been in past Java development. Why reinvent the wheel and plumbing when Apache is providing really awesome libraries for free that cover much of the "grunt work".

    I fear Oracle is doing far more harm than good to Java.

    • by thammoud (193905)

      This is for Apache's Harmony project that IBM created to piss off Sun. Most people do not use this project but rather use the OpenJDK or Sun's reference implementation. This has nothing to do with Apache's wonderful libraries.

      • No, it has to do with Android of which a portion is based on Harmony. It's a bit disingenuous to say that "Most people do not use this project" when everyone doing Android development indirectly uses it.
      • This is for Apache's Harmony project that IBM created to piss off Sun. Most people do not use this project but rather use the OpenJDK or Sun's reference implementation. This has nothing to do with Apache's wonderful libraries.

        Sounds bigger then that to me; they will not be releasing future libraries of any kind to any java projects. Wonder if they plan to abandon java altogether.

    • by MrEricSir (398214)

      This breach of the JSPA was begun by Sun Microsystems in August of 2006 and is a policy that Oracle explicitly continues today.

      Larry & friends aren't strictly to blame for this one.

      • Is this another "McNealy SNAFU", or is blaming him too easy?
      • Re:FTA (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DrJimbo (594231) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @05:24PM (#34506858)
        Perhaps not strictly to blame but certainly a truckload more hypocritical. Before buying Sun, Oracle was complaining about the very policies it is now trying to enforce. Furthermore, regardless of who started this idiocy (of subverting the TCK, which was by contract ( JSPA [jcp.org]) a strictly technical hurdle, into being an excuse to re-write the licensing terms in the JSPA), it is now entirely in Oracle's hands.

        If you are implying that Apache has some anti-Oracle grudge, I think the conflict probably started after Oracle launched the first-strike by suing Google over its use of Apache's Harmony in Android (and other stuff. Oracle is being represented by BS&F who mastered the art of being unspecific when they represented SCO vs. the Free world). If Oracle hadn't violated the terms of the JSPA, their law suit against Google would have had no merit because according the JSPA, Apache was supposed to get an irrevocable, license to the very copyrights and patents Oracle is suing over.

        If I had to dole out blame I would give 2% to Sun and 98% to Oracle.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hate seeing the Java community tear itself apart like this, internal rifts have now become vast canyons thanks to the demise of Sun and the acquisition by Oracle.

    Don't get me wrong, the tinder was plenty dry in the Java world but recent events have poured on the gasoline.

    • Re:The Sun has Set (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bberens (965711) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @04:38PM (#34506182)
      I work at a nearly pure Java shop and last week attended a Java technology related conference (not run by Oracle/IBM). Not one single person there or at my work seems particularly concerned about the future of Java. If for some silly reason Java 6 was the last version of Java ever released I'm pretty sure I'd be writing code for the platform for the next 10 years and it wouldn't be the end of the world.
      • by tomaasz (5800)

        The question is not if Java is going to disappear in those 10 years or not. Of course not. The question is whether or not Java is going to go the way of the mainframe: still alive and doing well and making tons of money, but also a niche, certainly not taught in schools and only a matter of time for it to be replaced by a compatible and cheaper technology. By cheaper here I mean cheaper programming labour - something that IS taught in schools, so it's easy to recruit 100s of people to throw at a problem.

    • I hate seeing the Java community tear itself apart like this, internal rifts have now become vast canyons thanks to the demise of Sun and the acquisition by Oracle.

      Don't get me wrong, the tinder was plenty dry in the Java world but recent events have poured on the gasoline.

      It also possible that this is case of the distrust of Oracle is far greater than that of Microsoft. Its possible that we are all being too reactionary, for something that is simply not that bad, but because we are talking about Oracle we need to look and the facts with more care and see what really is at play here.

  • What are the restrictions on the TCK license? I RTFA (and its linked pieces) but it doesn't seem to spell out the specifics.
    • Re:TCK license (Score:5, Informative)

      by robmv (855035) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @04:00PM (#34505602)

      a good explanation at Stephen Colebourne's blog [jroller.com]

      • by oldhack (1037484)

        Thanks. Looks like two sticking points:

        - Replacement JVM, like Apache Harmony, disallowed through definition of "product"
        - Can't be used in embedded, phone, etc.

        Dang, I hate IP/legal issues.

        • by bberens (965711)
          Wouldn't be so bad if J2ME wasn't absolutely HORRIBLE on any platform I've coded for it on.
    • by goofy183 (451746)

      I don't have the exact language but it is a "Field of Use" restriction such that any implementation that uses the TCK must stipulate in its license that it cannot be used in embedded systems and a few other places. That sort of restriction is not compatible with the Apache license or really any other OSS license from what I've read. Essentially that FoU restriction was added to specifically prevent a competing open source Java implementation, specifically Harmony since it isn't like writing a TCK compliant

    • by medv4380 (1604309)
      Well First I think the summary at least has the name of the TCK wrong. I was under the impression that it was called the Technology Compatibility Kit [wikipedia.com], but I and wiki could be wrong. In part the TCK puts patent restrictions on the developer. The major restriction that you get is you cant make your JVM that works on a mobile platform, like a cell phone. This is actually the main sticking point but I'm sure there are lots of other restrictions as well.
  • by lehphyro (1465921) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @03:59PM (#34505578)
    We'll still get great java and other JVM based language libraries from Apache.
    • by durdur (252098)

      True, but maybe not a JDK (Harmony). Also, ticking off one of the largest organizations using, developing, supporting and popularizing Java applications, can't be good for the future of the platform.

    • by rdean400 (322321)

      I dunno.... Many specs are greatly helped by the presence of Apache members on the expert group. This isn't going to happen anymore. Apache didn't just resign from the EC, they resigned from the JCP itself and pulled all of their EG members.

      • That situation is unclear, how this will be handled, a mail went out to all committers yesterday with following message:

        This action has little impact on existing ASF projects. The board reiterates its commitment to all Apache projects that implement Java specifications. There is nothing being considered that would require any Apache project to stop what it is doing based on the JCP crisis. Projects that currently license TCKs will continue to do so. If maintenance leads for JSRs propose to change the terms

  • Here's my appeal: I would like to know what this really means for Java, Dalvik and of course Android. A good, balanced and sensible analysis will be appreciated.

    • by Delirium Tremens (214596) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @04:24PM (#34505978) Journal
      It means that Oracle controls Java on embedded devices. Google can not take Harmony and have it run its Java apps in the next Android OS. Instead, Google has to say Pretty Please to Oracle first, and then buy the binary or source code license from them.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Or hopefully use a different language and not pay Oracle a dime. Use python or go or something.

        • Maybe google will now seriously invest in developing a new language that delivers on the promise of openness that sun/jcp always talked about but never delivered upon. Of course there is always c++
          • by JSBiff (87824)

            Why not Python?

            Portable Bytecodes? Check
            Open-Source? Check
            Open-governance? Check
            Easy to learn? Check
            Good performance? Check

            Is there something wrong with Python that a new language is necessary?

            • Most (if not all) of Oracle's patent infringement claims are directed to the Dalvik VM. This has nothing to do with the language used. In fact, if you like Python, you can use Jython on the JVM (and hence on the Dalvik VM) today. Same goes for Ruby (JRuby), Elang (Eljang) as well as several other languages.
              • by JSBiff (87824)

                Yeah, Except why would Google want to keep Dalvik if it infringes Java patents? If you're replacing one VM with another, why not the Python VM? If they can do Python to Java Bytecodes, why not the other way round? Then people who hate Python's syntax could keep developing in the Java language with the Python VM, and you probably could also get a pretty big level of backwards compatibility.

                • Yeah, Except why would Google want to keep Dalvik if it infringes Java patents? If you're replacing one VM with another, why not the Python VM? If they can do Python to Java Bytecodes, why not the other way round? Then people who hate Python's syntax could keep developing in the Java language with the Python VM, and you probably could also get a pretty big level of backwards compatibility.

                  The patents in question could just as easily apply to a Python VM. If it were that easy, Google could just rewrite the "patent offending" portions of the Dalvik VM (assuming there are any). The Dalvik VM is drastically different than a standard JVM (i.e. Dalvik is register based while JVM is stack based, Dalvik uses a drastically different executable format, very much unlike the JVM class format, etc). The problem is that the patents are broad enough that they can apply to nearly any VM.

                  The main point I wa

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              > Good performance? Check

              Holy. Freaking. Crap. Seriously? Maybe when compared with shell scripts, but speaking as an 8-year python developer, I can tell you python is slow as all hell. Even Ruby outruns it now, no kidding. It also makes Java look lean with the amount of memory it takes up. It's a pretty decent language, but those are a dime a dozen.

              Google does have unladen which does speed it up a bit, but there are pieces of the Python language specification that are simply actively hostile to bei

      • Google doesn't give a flying fuck about Java. They only used Java developers for the apps. They are implementing their own language which will be used to develop for Android.
      • Android isn't striving for compliance, so Apache's spat with Sun about Java SE compatibility has absolutely no impact.

    • by mswhippingboy (754599) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @04:30PM (#34506046)
      For Java, it means what has been speculated all along has now been confirmed, that Java is NOT an open standard and is in fact controlled by one company, Oracle. This was of course, the same situation while under the control of Sun, but Sun was a bit less "evil" in that they did not enforce the restrictions. Not surprisingly, Oracle is a different beast. It's too early to tell what the long term implications will be, but a lot has to do with the outcome of the Oracle/Google case.

      This of course, brings us to Android. Depending on the outcome of the Oracle/Google legal maneuvering, Android could be killed off (or retooled to remove Harmony from the equation), or Oracle's restrictions and/or patents could be vacated. Most likely the result will be something in between, where Android lives on, but is subject to the indirect control of Oracle. Of course, the IDEAL situation (the one I'm rooting for) is that Google wins. This would, in effect free Java from Oracle's greedy control and allow Android to develop into the truly remarkable platform it has the potential to become.

      (Disclaimer: IANAL nor a tech analyst and I have no particular insight, other than I tend to follow this story, so my views are my own as a simple small time developer).
    • by JSBiff (87824) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @04:32PM (#34506078) Journal

      Well, for Dalvik (and thus Android), there's a legal dispute between Google and Oracle about whether Dalvik infringes Java patents. As far as I know, copyrights are not in dispute. Google says Dalvik is not Java. If Dalvik is not Java, then the issues surrounding the JCP and TCK are completely irrelevant to Google, because Dalvisk is not Java. There's one other bit of important trivia: "Desktop" Java is nominally open-source. "Mobile" Java is a proprietary product which Sun/Oracle licensed to handset makers with somewhat traditional licensing fees.

      The TCK is a conformance test that a JVM which wants to call itself "Java" and be officially 'blessed' by Oracle (and thus, immune from patent and copyright lawsuits) has to pass, and I believe that Sun and now Oracle charge developers a LOT of money to get and use the TCK. Thus, to have an official "Java" implementation, even though you don't have to pay for a license from Sun/Oracle because it's nominally open-source, really isn't free, because you can't be "Java" unless you pay up for the conformance test and then pass it. (Which, in my mind, means that Java fails the basic criteria for being open source - it's not really freely licensed, it's only licensed contingent upon passing the TCK which you must pay for).

      If Oracle prevails in the Google lawsuit, it may be able to force Google to declare that Dalvik is Java, pay for the TCK, pass the conformance test, and additionally pay for Java "Mobile" licenses (or perhaps, that burden will be passed on to the handset makers, since the handset makers are more the 'point of sale' - e.g. I don't believe Google gets per-handset licensing revenue for Android, they make their money off of the tight integration of built-in apps with Google's advertising supported search and web services). Or, Oracle might settle for allowing Dalvik to be "Not Java", but demand a patent licensing fee from Google or handset makers for use of their patents, but acknowledge Dalvik as a seperate, derivative technology.

      If Google prevails, and the courts don't find that they've violated any patents, then this Apache/Oracle JCP thing means absolutely nothing to Google, Dalvik, or Android. Dalvik will continue to be "Not Java".

      • Well, for Dalvik (and thus Android), there's a legal dispute between Google and Oracle about whether Dalvik infringes Java patents. As far as I know, copyrights are not in dispute.

        As well as claiming patent violations, Oracle alleges that Google illegally copied copyright-protected Oracle code. Whether there is any substance to those allegations I couldn't say.

    • by ADRA (37398)

      I am not a member of the JCP, but in my eyes, it was established so that solutions vendors for things like Application servers or other tools use to enhance the Java language/platform were done with everyone's best interests at heart.

      It was meant to:
      1. Reduce the number of competing platform standards so that vendors and developers can focus on making the best products that fulfill a standard set of tools / features (J2EE, Struts, etc..)
      2. Allow external parties besides Sun to make an impact on how the Java

      • They can even release a Dalvik version of the JVM

        Just an FYI: That's a little like saying "They can release a Python version of C" or "They can release a Windows version of Unix."

        Dalvik implements an entirely different, incompatible, virtual machine system to a JVM. Yes, you can compile programs written in the Java programming language to Dalvik codes (and like a JVM, the Java programming language is the primary development language for Dalvik systems), but the same is true of .NET (the name of the Micr

        • Problem is less the vm, there are other VMs which are basically good enough, Dalvik, Parrot whatever, even Harmony has its own clean room vm which could be changed to a different bytecode. The problem is more along the lines of Patents and APIs even if you do an entire refactoring of the APIs there are still the patents you have to defend in a courtcase and besides that given the reliance of millions of lines of code towards the official java APIs an entire rewrite of the java and jee ecosystem is hard and

        • by ADRA (37398)

          Sun (Oracle) has done a lot of really brilliant work with the JVM over the years, and there's no reason that they can't do the same for a bytecode that is practically identical when it comes to instruction sets and development use behavior. There would need to be features added and some features re-tuned, but that doesn't mean that it can't be done or that there isn't any synergy between the two products. There's only going to be so many ways of JIT optimizing common operations, and if Oracle's already done

    • by ewe2 (47163)

      As I see it, Oracle has abused it's own open standards process to control the biggest new segment of the Java client market, smartphones. This obviously affects Android and Dalvik. Unfortunately, that's also the case for the crucial server end member, ASF. ASF now has no reason to support the roadmap for Java clients, and Oracle can also refuse to accept the requirements of ASF projects. Oracle probably has a strategy for this, for example using networking effects to force ASF to implement extensions, but w

  • by sticks_us (150624)

    We're living in interesting times. It's obvious Oracle isn't going to be cutting people a whole lot of slack, here.

    Maybe we should start taking bets on:

    a) When Oracle starts requiring a per-core license for production JVMs, and
    b) How many $$ per core that will be?

    This might play into their strategy. We know they're putting some heat on Google, but maybe a move like this would buy them some leverage, say, against Salesforce.com (with whom they're engaged in an emerging, but heated battle [cnet.com])

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @04:13PM (#34505806) Homepage

      Maybe we should start taking bets on:

      a) When Oracle starts requiring a per-core license for production JVMs, and
      b) How many $$ per core that will be?

      a) Real Soon Now
      b) The square of the processor speed as expressed in Hz.

    • Oracle is very likely to always continue to release a free JDK / JVM. They have already stated this (along with mentioning that they will also continue to release their for pay JVM).

      While Oracle may seem heavy handed with Java at the moment, it is worth noting that Oracle needs Java to continue to succeed. How many ASP / C# shops do you know that use an Oracle backend? Probably a lot less than the ones that use MSSQL. Oracle cannot afford for Java to be completely eclipsed by MS offerings, so they will

  • So, does this mean we won't be seeing any new versions of Tomcat?
    • No, we'll still get tomcat goodness. There have been murmurs for a while about a massive fork taking place where everyone runs for the openjdk projects and ditches the reference implementations. Changing the licensing on Java toward the end of Sun's lifespan was the best thing that would have happened for the future of Java innovation.
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Changing the licensing on Java toward the end of Sun's lifespan was the best thing that would have happened for the future of Java innovation.

        Or, quite possibly the worst -- if we end up with a bunch of incompatible JVMs, and Oracle screeching that you're not allowed to have OpenJDK because it violates their license ... well, then Java as a viable platform would be largely toast, wouldn't it?

        • I can live with a fork. I can live with OpenJDK on production servers. I can live with having to _port_ an OpenJDK-bound program to OracleJava for the sucker corporations who require it. I can live with Larry Ellison choking on his 10000$ per core reference implementation til he shits his Armani pants.

          The Java community is much closer to Apache than to Oracle. Has most always been. The community has been developping it's own solutions before the official ones. And they're better, too. e.g : Log4J vs Java Lo

          • If Oracle gets too greedy, or if the process take too long, we will certainly move on to another platform.

            Oracle's already too greedy, and progress impeding, IMO.

            I've already moved to Perl6 Parrot VM [perl.net.au] & Postgresql for my personal projects instead of Java and MySQL. I couldn't be happier! (Lets see Oracle sue Parrot as being a Java VM).

            • by sdiz (224607)

              hm.
              I think Parrot VM performance is not good enough for production.
              Yes, there are pending optimization. But I won't deploy this on where I use jsp.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      So, does this mean we won't be seeing any new versions of Tomcat?

      Last I checked, you can run Tomcat with the Sun, er, Oracle JDK.

      This seems to be more about alternate implementations of the JVM itself, though, the more Oracle craps all over everybody else, the more I fear some of the goodness about using Java will evaporate.

      • by sticks_us (150624)

        Is there a chance they'd try to monetize the J2EE/JEE container market (hey, they're holding the still-warm corpse of BEA) by being deliberately opaque with their JEE specifications?

        Or at least, trying to extort or marginalize free/libre implementations as much as possible?

        • Re:Tomcat? (Score:4, Informative)

          by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @04:31PM (#34506062) Homepage

          Is there a chance they'd try to monetize the J2EE/JEE container market (hey, they're holding the still-warm corpse of BEA) by being deliberately opaque with their JEE specifications?

          It's Oracle, of course they will.

          Or at least, trying to extort or marginalize free/libre implementations as much as possible?

          Well, following a link [jroller.com] that another poster so graciously provided, it would seem that:

          To be honest, I'm surprised that the TCK license for Java SE 7 still contains any pretence that it can be implemented in open source by anyone other than Oracle. At least the restrictions are clear (and I suspect, but cannot prove, that very similar restrictions were offered for Java SE 5 in the Sun/Oracle vs Harmony dispute).

          .
          Earlier up in the page, he says:

          The definition of a "product" contains what looks like an unusual part (highlighted). It appears that a "product" must meet three criteria beyond the basic ones:

                  * "have a principal purpose which is substantially different from a stand-alone implementation of that specification"
                  * "represent a significant functional and value enhancement over any stand-alone implementation of that specification"
                  * "not be marketed as a technology which replaces or substitutes for a stand-alone implementation of that specification"

          I believe that Apache Harmony would fail all three of these tests (were the project to try and implement this JSR, which they probably won't). Since a "stand-alone implementation" would be OpenJDK/OracleJDK, the principal purpose of Harmony is clearly the same (not substantially different), Harmony does not offer significant functional enhancement, and Harmony would be marketed as a replacement for OpenJDK/OracleJDK.

          So, what I read is that Oracle basically wouldn't allow anybody else to make a JVM if its sole purpose is to be a replacement for the Oracle one.

          So, yes, I think everything you ask is likely true.

          • by sticks_us (150624)

            Interesting. Good points (and you made some good ones upthread).

            So, stir in some dual-license JDKs [theregister.co.uk] and Oracle's set to shakedown the entire Java programming industry.

            Let us never think RMS wasn't eerily prophetic with his Java Trap [gnu.org] warnings back in 2004!

        • Is there a chance they'd try to monetize the J2EE/JEE container market (hey, they're holding the still-warm corpse of BEA) by being deliberately opaque with their JEE specifications?

          How? Apache's problem with the license aside, the specs for JSE/JEE components are all spelled out in their respective JSR documents. As far as I'm aware, the interface files are distributable by third parties... since said interfaces only contain method signatures, this is hardly a surprise.

    • For now the JEE parts are not affected as long as the licensing terms stay the same. Given the deep entrenchement between the various JEE EGs and Apache it is unlikely anything will change there, unless Oracle wants to really hurt itself. Lots of Oracle employees work within the Apache projects and vice versa. What however probably has happened is that Apache members which are Apache representatives are not part anymore of the JEE egs, not really that much of a deal since lots of the specification discussio

  • I haven't been following the events here so far, and a little searching yielded a lot of words that I am not familiar with and not a lot of insight. Could someone explain what the issue is here?

    As far as I have been able to tell, the focus is on the licensing terms for the TCK, and the TCK is a test suite for existing and proposed Java standards. Oracle owns the rights to TCK and will not license it to the Apache Software Foundation under terms that the ASF will agree to.

    Assuming that I have that right, so

    • My (feeble) understanding is that the Java license grants the right for anyone to develop their own "clean room" implementation of the JavaSE platform, but to claim it to be "Java compatible", it must pass the TCK certification. However, in order to test for compatibility against the TCK, one must license the it from Oracle. Since Oracle refuses to license the TCK, the effect is that no one can legally claim Java compatibility. It's sort of a catch-22. One of project Harmony's stated goals was to be Java co
    • by glwtta (532858)
      Oracle owns the rights to TCK and will not license it to the Apache Software Foundation under terms that the ASF will agree to.

      No, Oracle (and Sun before them) are refusing to provide the TCK under terms that are required under the JCP agreement, making the JCP a bit of a sham. And it's not so much that ASF doesn't agree to the terms, it's that they are incompatible with the Apache license, so they would not be able to distribute Harmony.
    • by Jartan (219704)

      What you are missing is that Sun and now Oracle say that you can't have access to the patent grant for your JVM unless you can pass the TCK. Basically Oracle uses the TCK as a way to stop anyone from making their own royalty free java runtime.

      • by Genda (560240)

        So FSCK the JVM. Create a VM that is inherently not Java's, look carefully at what made the JVM great, as well as what made it horrible, weed out as much of the horrible as humanly possible. Port as many major languages to the new VM as time and resource allow. Wash and repeat.

        Leave Oracle to sit in it's litterbox in the throws of onanistic bliss with it's proprietary toys. By the time the Oracle Board of Directors has settled into their afterglow, the reports informing them that they've succeeded in profou

    • by jonwil (467024)

      Basically passing the TCK means you get a patent grant for the Java patents.
      But Sun (and now Oracle) have said "You can only get the TCK if you are not producing a Java implementation for mobile or embedded use".
      Apache are claiming that such license terms violate the agreements connected to the Java Community Process and thats why its decided to leave.

      Orcale for its part doesnt want to remove the restrictions on the TCK because the restrictions are one of the things keeping its remaining Embedded Java reven

  • Oracle purchased the "Golden Goose", and it has every right to butcher the critter in the misguided hope that it can get all the eggs out at once. This makes Larry a man who thinks he can divorce his acquisitions from the Open Source community and still have something of value. This is simply a delusion. He will wake up soon and discover that not only has he rendered his purchase worthless, he's generated such a profound amount of ill will from the people with whom he is beholden for his business, that all

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