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Apache Declares War On Oracle Over Java 428

jfruhlinger writes "The Apache Software Foundation, feeling increasingly marginalized as Oracle asserts its control over the Java platform, is fighting back, trying to rally fellow members of the Java Community Process to block the next version of the language if Oracle doesn't make it available under an open license amenable to Apache. Last month's Oracle-IBM pact was a blow against the ASF, which had worked with IBM in the past, but it appears that Apache isn't giving up the fight."
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Apache Declares War On Oracle Over Java

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  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @05:15PM (#34179170) Homepage Journal

    Now we know who launched that missile []!

  • Unsurprising (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JustNilt ( 984644 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @05:16PM (#34179202) Homepage

    Everything I know about Oracle makes this absolutely unsurprising. It looks to me as though they're trying to cut out all the "competition" in order to ride out the recession.

    • Re:Unsurprising (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mark72005 ( 1233572 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @05:52PM (#34179714)
      There should be a top ten list of rising stars among evil companies.

      (But who would hold slots #2-10?)
    • Re:Unsurprising (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @06:39PM (#34180358) Homepage Journal

      Not sure about the recission part, but they're definitely out to kill the competition. I fully expect the battle to get extremely bloody. Apple's sacrifice of their own Java implementation might well have been under duress, given this development.

      It might be a good idea at this point to start looking at other languages. Since D is supposed to be "C# done right", it might be a language worth investigating. All you'd need is a portable virtual machine for it and you've a rival to Java that is (supposedly) superior to Java structurally. Tcl/Tk, Perl, Python and Ruby are already highly portable - although Perl largely shot itself in the foot with Perl 6 and Python did some serious self-inflicted damage with Python 3. Both should recover - after all, Python had just as much of a problem moving to Python 2 from the original form. Regardless, clearly there are potential competitors to Java if they can be mobilized.

      If one or more of these can be embedded into multiple browsers (IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera would be the obvious set and cover almost the entire browser market), Java would face some serious competition - at least at the browser end. Java applications and servlets would depend on whether the Java ABI was covered by the patents. If the ABI (in and of itself) is not IP-protected, then it would be possible to write virtual machines that run entirely differently than "native Java" VMs but which support Java objects. Bring GCJ up to Java 7 and have a backend to GCC that supports a portable virtual machine. You then have something that will handle existing Java bytecode and will allow a gradual weaking off of Java to any language GCC supports.

      (Since IBM -is- permitted to contribute to GCC, this is another direction IBM might be looking into. Especially if they can get a Java bytecode frontend working for GCC. Java applications natively compiled to IBM's processors would be very appealing, especially if it didn't break any standards in the process.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )

        Since D is supposed to be "C# done right", it might be a language worth investigating

        Minor correction: it's supposed to be C++ done right. It predates C#: I first played with it in 2000 and it wasn't new then, C# was first released in 2001. It's not a bad language, if you like the Simula family.

    • Re:Unsurprising (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sinclair44 ( 728189 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @07:24PM (#34180934) Homepage
      I think/hope that they are going to absolutely shoot themselves in the foot with this. Much of their top talent has left in droves since the Sun acquisition. They sent a recruiting email to myself and some of my friends -- some of the top students at the top CS school in the country -- asking if we were interested in coming to work on the Solaris kernel full-time; they were pretty much collectively told, "After what you did to Sun? No way." If their talented engineers are by-and-large leaving and they are by-and-large unable to hire more, they will quickly become a dying shell of a mediocre company.
      • Re:Unsurprising (Score:4, Insightful)

        by illtud ( 115152 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @09:55PM (#34182068)

        They sent a recruiting email to myself and some of my friends -- some of the top students at the top CS school in the country -- asking if we were interested in coming to work on the Solaris kernel full-time; they were pretty much collectively told, "After what you did to Sun? No way."

        Unfortunately, I guess that your insightful feedback won't make it up the chain. All that Oracle HR will report is the number of new hires (and there will be some) that campaign made. They won't be top-class, on the whole (my opinon for the same reason you gave for flipping them the bird), and the Sun exodus will continue...

        Please, if there's anybody out there who's considering sticking with Sun (ie the Sun products continued within Oracle) please speak up - I really need some pros to even make it worth while totting up the increasing number of cons.

      • Re:Unsurprising (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @02:04AM (#34183392)

        Right a bunch of students with no work experience unilaterally turn down guaranteed full time positions with a established company in this economy.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )

          Why not, if they had other options? Given the choice between a job at Oracle or IBM, for example, I would be surprised if anyone took Oracle. If they're really at the top of their class, then they probably have a lot of options - I certainly did, although I chose to stay in academia for a bit and then work freelance so I never went through the whole 'proper job' thing.

          I actually would have been quite interested in working on Solaris for Sun, but my contacts in the company put me off applying with their c

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Eskarel ( 565631 )

      It's a bit more complicated that that really.

      One of the reasons sun failed was that despite the fact that they came up with all the Java standards, the reference implementation and industry leader for most of them elsewhere. In this specific instance we're mostly talking about Tomcat as a servlet container which just destroyed anything Sun had until the very end. There was really no reason to pay either licensing or when they went open source support fees to Sun because their product implementations sucked.

  • Time for... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by markov_chain ( 202465 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @05:19PM (#34179234) Homepage


  • by RevWaldo ( 1186281 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @05:22PM (#34179272)
    Injuns, soothsayers, and volcanoes? Sounds like one hella cool game! When'll the demo be available?

  • by accessbob ( 962147 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @05:30PM (#34179374)
    Nokia went for Python on Maemo. Looks like they knew what they were doing.
  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @05:35PM (#34179448)

    Java is the new COBOL.

    During the declining years of cobol, I/we watched the participants fighting to increase their portion of the pie, regardless of how much it shrunk the pie.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cacba ( 1831766 )
      Im confused, was cobol the only way to develop on millions of computer (aka smartphones)?
      • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @05:49PM (#34179658) Homepage

        No - there weren't millions of computers to develop on back then.

        However, cobol was the only way to develop anything that mattered on any computers that mattered. I wouldn't be surprised if the NYSE is still running on cobol and cics...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Let me put it this way, there are still tons of COBOL apps out in the wild. The last project I was on used a DB2 backend with a ton of COBOL stored procs. Imagine my surprise at having to learn enough COBOL to be dangerous in order to facilitate change to an application with an ASP.NET front end.

        • by leenks ( 906881 )

          There are COBOL implementations that run on JEE servers too - double whammy if you are a COBOL *and* Java expert!

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I was surprised, but I recently met a COBOL programmer younger than me. Not only is COBOL still being used, new products are being created with it.

      • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @05:51PM (#34179696) Journal

        At one time, COBOL was the only way to develop on tens of thousands of computers. Very expensive computers with very expensive maintenance and licensing contracts. There was a lot of money in this, measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars per year per site. That's probably an order of magnitude or two lower than the money at stake in the mobile software universe, but it's also probably a larger percentage of the overall market at the time.

        There is a common but entirely mistaken belief that the great issues and controversies of this time are unique, unprecedented, and never-before seen. But license and market-control conflict is ancient in this industry. Almost every hassle you may see today has been seen by some earlier generation of dinosaurs.

    • by hsoftdev17 ( 1701106 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @05:51PM (#34179686)
      If Java is the new COBOL, I highly recommend not telling the millions of Android developers out there, or Google for that matter. I am inclined to agree that the language formerly known as "Java" (Sun's version) may be on its way out. However, the existence of alternate compilers, alternate VMs, and extensions to the language not officially sanctioned by Sun (or Oracle) seem to indicate that Java isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
    • by mark-t ( 151149 )
      Although there is a noticeable similarity in the two languages in the sense of some of the politics involved, COBOL's biggest failure was ultimately tied to more technical limitations on the part of the language itself rather than the politics that governed it (and although those politics may have been responsible for COBOL's failure to evolve with the times, this does not appear to be happening with Java, at least not to the point that there are any foreseeable technical limitations).
  • by VGPowerlord ( 621254 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @05:54PM (#34179730)

    If you wanted to make this headline more sensational, you could change it to "Apache says GPLv2 license not good enough." which is what OpenJDK7 [] is licensed under.

    Yeah, Apache may be at war with Oracle now, but this has the potential for much more widespread damage. It also puts the Free Software Foundation in an... interesting position, as this technically is the first salvo from Apache in a license war between GPL and Apache License.

    • by Homburg ( 213427 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @06:55PM (#34180594) Homepage

      I don't think that's right; this isn't about GPL vs. the Apache license. The issue isn't the licensing of OpenJDK itself, but about the licensing of the Java Technology Compatibility Kit (the JCK) [], which is used to test if an implementation is compatible with a given version of the Java spec. The JCK isn't available under an open source license at all. If the JCK were under the GPL, or even if it were under a license that didn't permit you to modify it, but only permitted anyone to run it, then Apache could use it to test their Java implementation, which is what they want to do.

      • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @11:07PM (#34182492)

        Oracle (and Sun before them) said "if you build an implementation of Java that passes the JCK, you get a license to the Java patents". Then they said "we will license the JCK for testing on any implementation excpet for those that are designed for mobile devices"

        Oracle of course wont give in to Apache on this.
        Hell will freeze over before Larry will allow ANY implementation of anything that even vaguely resembles Java to run on anything vaguely reselmbling a mobile phone device unless the vendor shipping that implementation pays Oracle per-unit royalties for every device they ship.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @07:30PM (#34180996)

      You don't know what you're talking about.

      The problem is that to be a compatible Java implementation you must pass the TCK. To get a hold of the TCK you must agree that your Java implementation has a limited field of use, namely desktop computers. That means you have to add a clause to your licence that tells your users where they can use the software - no such clause exists in any open source licence I'm aware of.

      Sure you can use the OpenJDK, you can even fork it, but therein lies the problem... you can't, because if you do and you want to claim it's a compatible implementation you have to pass the TCK. So you have to licence the TCK, then you have to add a field of use restriction to your licence, but that's incompatible with the GPL that the OpenJDK GPL requires you to licence under.

      End result, you can have Oracle Java or 'Open'JDK

      The ASF don't have a political axe to grind with the GPL, aren't firing a salvo in some imaginary war based on their view of free; It's about a contractual obligation Oracle has to release the TCK to the ASF. An obligation Sun had and failed to meet and that Oracle continues to fail to meet.

      The ASF was re-elected to the JCP with 95% of the vote. No other elected member had anywhere near that. The members spoke with their vote and consequently the ASF leaving the JCP would be big news in a war with Oracle, nobody else. The ASF is outside core Java and the work of the JCP probably the biggest single contributor to the Java ecosystem. Their threat to leave the JCP would seriously damage it and Oracle's commitment to opensource's credibility.

  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @06:09PM (#34179932) Journal

    I was about to say "how the hell is Sun still in business?" for about the thousandth time.

    Then I remembered...

  • by khb ( 266593 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @06:25PM (#34180186)

    Apache to Oracle: Do what we say or we'll resign!
    Oracle to Apache: Sayanora

    I don't know that they should stay, but if they want to have any influence working with Oracle, aligned along Oracle's self interest is the only way to have impact.

    Declaring "war" and making threats is highly unlikely to cause any useful change in Oracle's direction.

    Surely the OpenSolaris experience illustrates just how Oracle behaves w.r.t. threats.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Thing is, Java isn't just a language and a VM. It's also an ecosystem, and unlike that around .NET, it has historically being a much more open and diverse one. Case in point - the most popular Java build tool (Ant), Java ORM (Hibernate) and Java web framework (Spring MVC) are all third-party products. So Oracle has control over parts of that now, but by no means they control all of it (except in the "he who can destroy a thing, controls a thing" meaning of it).

      Now, of all the players in this Java ecosystem,

  • by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @06:26PM (#34180210) Homepage

    The policy of lying to Apache about Java was started by Sun, not Oracle.

  • FFS, this is bad... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JAlexoi ( 1085785 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @06:53PM (#34180554) Homepage
    Any Java developer worth their salt, will know that anything else coming out about Oracle's plans for Java are nothing compared to this. ASF is probably the biggest source of software for Java developers. To the point that most Java software has components from ASF bundled, even if indirectly.
    All of Oracle's Java based software has components from Apache. IBM's Webshpere software has components from Apache. JBoss, Spring, Google's tools... All of them...
    • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @07:21PM (#34180898)

      A lot of the people who comment on the subject seem to be familiar with the Java language itself, but not so much with the significance of the frameworks and libraries that are out there. In these threads, I don't usually get the sense that some of the posters are very aware of just how much business software has been built in Java in the past decade. Whenever I see comments dismissing Java based on stuff like applet or Swing performance, it just drives the point home that some people simply don't understand where the Java code is. (Hint, it's not in the end-user GUI or the 2D or 3D animation.)

  • by Arancaytar ( 966377 ) <> on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @07:32PM (#34181034) Homepage

    - Apache Software Foundation: Check
    - Document Foundation: Check
    - MySQL: Check

    At this rate, you'll have pissed off the entire world of free software before the year is over. Maybe go for Linux next. Or the Mozilla Foundation, but I don't remember if Sun was involved there in a major way.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson