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Oracle's Newest Move To Undermine Android 342

GMGruman writes "Oracle's decision to shift focus from the Harmony Java open source project to OpenJDK seems innocuous enough — but InfoWorld's Josh Fruhlinger explains it's part of an effort to derail Google's mobile Android OS by gutting the open source project that Android has been driven by. IBM has signed on, apparently in return for getting the Java Community Process reactivated, leaving Google in a bind."
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Oracle's Newest Move To Undermine Android

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  • by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @03:37PM (#33874968)

    Forgive the layman here, but why can't Android simply switch Java platforms as well? Open is Open, no?

    Oracle is trying to claim that Dalvik, Android's virtual machine [] infringes on mobile java patents. Mobile java was not included when Java received it's current "open" licensing.

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Old97 ( 1341297 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @03:50PM (#33875158)
    What licensing fee are you talking about? These JDKs and Android are both open source projects and Java and JDKs from Sun and IBM have always been free. Android isn't selling a brand name. It's not selling anything except advertising and back end services.
  • Re:Why? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @03:51PM (#33875166)

    Except they never tried to pass it off as Java. It's Dalvik. It just happens to share Java's grammar.

  • by Kostya ( 1146 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @03:55PM (#33875230) Homepage Journal

    Oracle is trying to claim that Dalvik, Android's virtual machine infringes on mobile java patents. Mobile java was not included when Java received it's current "open" licensing.

    And I'm sure part of the reason why Mobile Java wasn't in the "open licensing" was the carriers. That is, Sun had already extracted some money out of the carriers and met with a very nice bit of success there. Remember, before Apple's iPhone and Google's Android, JavaME was a big success in offering advanced features (that sucks compared to today's offerings). It was a big success for Sun licensing wise--something the original Java was not.

    But with that money came a very, very hefty price. They had to bend over backwards to give the carriers what they wanted in order to "add value". One of those was charging developers $500+ a pop to be able to release applications for their network. Another for the developers to pay extra to access certain features (location). And another still was for companies like Verizon and Sprint to just flat out turn off certain features.

    Which is why Apple didn't do JavaME (I remember being pretty bummed when they didn't)--they wanted complete control, and they would never get that with JavaME.

    And Google had similar needs--but also didn't want to pay the licensing costs everyone else did.

    JavaME was a money maker for Sun (unlike the standard Java VM), but the process of making money off of it made it a nightmare to deploy apps on. Development--writing code--was ok, but getting it to work on multiple headsets (nevermind multiple carriers) was a huge headache. And it was a huge headache because of all the compromises Sun made to get the carriers on board. And that nightmare (in addition to licensing costs) is why Google came up with their own VM implementation.

    I used to be a big Java proponent for mobile development. I'm not anymore. But it is interesting to see how all those bad decisions (I cursed Sun weekly as I tried to wrestle another carrier or headset down) played out into what we have now.

    Google didn't want to pay the money. Microsoft (via Miguel) likes to say they would have been better, but they are just as bad on the licensing (see HTC and now Motorola). Sounds to me like Google got used to their free ride on Java and balked at the idea of giving anyone a slice of their work and money on Android.

    I'm not saying Ellison is not squeezing them (he definitely is), just that Google is kind of getting a bucket of cold water in their face about how the tech companies "collaborate" in new tech fields. Not "fair", but it is kind of predictable.

  • by jfruhlinger ( 470035 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @04:05PM (#33875378) Homepage

    And Android isn't based on J2ME. It's a Java SE derivative.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bhamlin ( 986048 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @04:05PM (#33875382) Homepage

    Not even that.

    The Dalvik VM doesn't accept Java VM bytecode. The Java language is what all the tools work on currently for creating executable images for the VM, and precompiled class files are also converted. If someone were so inclined, Dalvik could use lisp or c or befunge in much the same way that other languages have been compiled to work on the Java VM.

  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @04:06PM (#33875400)

    Sun/Oracle holds several patents on Java technology. They will only issue licenses to these patents to implementations that pass their compatibility tests. Without this license, the source code is freely distributable, but you risk being sued if you actually use it. Harmony and other java reimplementation have struggled with being in this legal grey area for some time. The trick is you have to pay a big chunk of money to Sun/Oracle for this compatibility test. Furthermore, Android's implementation wouldn't pass because they only ship a subset of the standard library, and because they compile to a different bytecode format. Furthermore, Sun has not been as open when it comes to J2ME. Android is cutting into J2ME revenue, and Oracle are greedy bastards in general, so they would like for everyone who runs Android to pay them patent royalties.

  • Re:Rough times (Score:3, Informative)

    by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @04:46PM (#33875908) Journal

    If someone say A->B, you simply need to show an example of B->!A to disprove the statement. This example DOES NOT mean the individual is trying to say B->!A.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @05:06PM (#33876160)

    The code is Java. Which is something Oracle can't charge you a fee for. I'm sure they'd love to. What Oracle charges for is the Java Micro Edition runtime, which Android doesn't use.
    Android compiles from Java code to a Dalvik executable stored in an Android package. Dalvik is not Java.

  • by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @05:46PM (#33876628)

    And that nightmare (in addition to licensing costs) is why Google came up with their own VM implementation.

    Technically speaking, RIM (Blackberry) was the first mobile OS to come up with that workaround. Google (or more specifically the startup that Google purchased) just saw what RIM did, saw that it was working, and did the same themselves (thus avoiding the per JVM licensing fee that Sun was charging companies).

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jfruhlinger ( 470035 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @06:10PM (#33876842) Homepage

    Ah, but technically Android doesn't include a JVM. It has a "Dalvik Virtual Machine," which processes Dalvik bytecode; there's a second set of tools that transforms standard Java bytecode (compiled from Java code written in the subset of the language that Android understands) to Dalvik bytecode.

    It's all very confusing but it's part of the way that Google has gotten away with not making Android a real Java, and thus not subject to Oracle's rules for the platform.. It also means that in theory they could create another toolset that allowed any language to be compiled to Dalvik bytecode, though I think that would be a hassle.

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

    by dunng808 ( 448849 ) <garydunnhi@gmail . c om> on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @06:16PM (#33876918) Journal

    Google collects a license fee from Java ME installs.

    Um, shouldn't that be Oracle collects a license fee ... ?

  • by Pootie Tang ( 414915 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @08:59PM (#33878326)

    Why is more free, Java or Dalvik?

    Dalvik, because Oracle has sued over Java and not the other way around. At least, that's one way to look at it. Dalvik is apache licensed.

    Can you download and use Dalvik on your desktop or server? Is it completely open source?

    Yes, you could download and run it on a PC (the SDK which includes an emulator is available for Linux, Mac and Windows). If you want to boot directly into android, google doesn't provide that, but see []. As far as I know it's completely open source.

    Or is it just a proprietary copy of a more open platform, with a few tweaks, and a cynical dodge of paying for it?

    This is the part I don't understand. Pay for what?

    The JVM they aren't using? The implementation of the core classes from apache? The android stuff they did themselves? What are they supposed to be paying oracle (or sun) for?

    Oracle would probably prefer that Google had used J2ME and would pay fees. But they didn't choose J2ME. Oracle would probably prefer that Google had licensed the JVM. But they didn't, they wrote their own.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @09:47PM (#33878650)

    Java programming language with its own libraries that implement a subset of the Java APIs

    This is a problem, as it goes contrary to the J2ME licensing. Google is using the Java.* hierarchy despite terms against that.

  • by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:03PM (#33879112) Homepage

    Yes, the Java API that Harmony has is a clean room implementation of the Sun ones, so the implementation is not a copyright infringement, but it's still an implementation of a spec that someone else designed and refined and improved over the years

    Yes, a spec that Sun promised that others could freely and independently implement. That turned out to be a lie, since their patent license requires that those implementations pass a test suite that Sun refused to make available.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford