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Can Android Without Dalvik Avoid Oracle's Wrath? 264

jfruhlinger writes "Despite the fact that Oracle is suing Google over claims that Android violates Java IP, Android is roaring ahead in the marketplace. Still, some groups are wondering if they can implement Android without incurring Oracle's current or future wrath by avoiding the Dalvik VM. A project called IcedRobot aims to create a GNU-compatible version of Android, and rumors abound that RIM is planning on putting an OpenJDK-version of Android on its upcoming PlayBook tablets."
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Can Android Without Dalvik Avoid Oracle's Wrath?

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  • by Prysorra ( 1040518 ) on Sunday February 20, 2011 @12:44AM (#35257726)

    There are what seems to be a countless army of people and companies using Java, and I have never heard of anyone being sued for "Java IP anything". Something smells fishy.

    • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

      Consistent enforcement is not a requirement of copyright claims, which are among the IP claims Oracle has brought against Google.

    • by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Sunday February 20, 2011 @01:02AM (#35257774)
      Embedded/Mobile Java requires licensing that regular Java does not. Basically, Oracle claims that the Dalvik VM violates their IP because it is used on mobile devices.
      • If I understand correctly, any Java or Java-like VM running on a mobile device would run afoul of the same patents, so e.g. using OpenJDK won't help, nor would rewriting the whole thing from scratch as FOSS. You'd need a different VM (and then you wouldn't be able to run any existing Android apps).

        I actually wonder just how different you'd have to make it, in fact. There have been claims that Microsoft has been paying licensing fees to Sun, ostensibly for those same patents as related to .NET. And .NET VM (

        • by JanneM ( 7445 )

          Since the Dalvik VM is nothing like the Java VM, anything that applies for it is not unlikely to apply for any VM-based dynamical language.

        • OpenJDK is supposedly safe because it's licensed under the GPL, which prevents Oracle from suing over patents as long as OpenJDK is available under the GPL. They could stop distributing it under the GPL for future versions of Java, but revoking the license retroactively wouldn't go over well in courts due to the principle of estoppel.

          On the other hand, non-OpenJDK implementations of Java don't carry the same promise.

    • The details of the Sun (now Oracle, I guess) patent grant can be found here []. Basically:

      you are free to use, copy, distribute, or compile, the Java SE system and Sun/Oracle promises not to use its patents against you. So the countless army of people using Java are fine. However, if you break the Java specification, or your JRE only implements a subset of the specification, then suddenly the entire weight of the Java patents are free to be used against you. Most people do not break the Java specification.
      • *Caveat: There were some small bits of code that were not directly part of the Java source code, and not under the GPL, that Google was distributing. They've since stopped.

        Last I read, it was found that they never actually distributed even that much, unless I'm mistaken.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sun sued Microsoft (and won) over Java twice.
      Besides MS and Google most companies have actually played nice with Sun/Oracle's terms.

      Both MS cases were rather high profile, the second one was what killed off Microsoft's JVM (for the opposite reason Google is being sued over Dalvik; the MS JVM was being called Java, but had all kinds of hooks to the underlying OS which made it and applications written for it incompatible with Java - whereas Dalvik looks like Java, smells like Java, tastes like Java and even a

      • by toriver ( 11308 )

        Well, they are not calling it Java-the-VM (which Dalvik isn't), but they DO refer to Java-the-language, since that is what they use.

      • If you want to call your product java then it needs to be able to run java applications which dalvik doesn't do becouse it isn't java.

        There are similar if not identical concepts so a lot of what you are familiar with coding wise is going to work the same way in dalvik much like c and c++ or driving a diesel car instead of a petrol or an electric car or even windows linux or osx.

        Even java is not unique in its reuse of concepts from c and c++

        You see the difference between microsoft's version of java and sun

    • Google is being sued for not using Java.

  • by FrankDrebin ( 238464 ) on Sunday February 20, 2011 @01:06AM (#35257782) Homepage
    WIth Oracle getting all pissy, and with alternate first-class platform-neutral languages like Python up-and-coming as first-class on Android, it may be attractive for Google to skip the Java language entirely.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward


      How are they supposed to dump the vast majority of their application base? It would be suicide.

      Python is not even close to a substitute for Java. It's good, but not that good.

    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday February 20, 2011 @02:16AM (#35258002) Journal
      Going to Python won't automatically solve Google's problems. The issue is patents, not copyright, and the patents in question are about how to make a virtual machine environment run quickly. If the Python interpreter does things like Just-in-time compiling or whatever, then it could still fall under the patents, and Google could still get sued. Microsoft had to pay sun a lot of money to license the patents for C#.
      • I see that Google is asking [] the PTO to re-examine 4 of the patents in question and will probably ask for a stay of the proceedings until that is done. That should be good for a delay of 3-4 years, ten years tops. And there are 3 more in the wings that Google is likely to throw into the re-examination bin. If the PTO says yes, Oracle is going to have find some other way to expedite things if they want to see any money soon.
    • by ADRA ( 37398 ) on Sunday February 20, 2011 @02:39AM (#35258086)

      Java the language is not being sued about, so lets move on from this shall we? The patents are regarding Virtual Machines that most likely affect any language using dynamic code optimization. The copyright claims are regarding apparent line by line copying which if true is just a big fck up by Google, and not a slant against the language.

    • by toriver ( 11308 )

      They had the "option" of skipping it (and focus on a different language) from day one, but the lure of exploiting the vast developer base was too strong.

  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Sunday February 20, 2011 @01:10AM (#35257794)

    Might as well use MeeGo. At least then contributions from the community and improvements to various parts of the operating system would benefit more than just one platform.

  • There is no way oracle can win the fight against all the companies which would be hurt if this goes trough. They will settle and make some patent agreement in the end.

  • I just decided to get a new IDE for web development. im a web professional, you see. and, while viewing IDEs, i had had dwelt on Eclipse.

    i decided not to use it, in order not to put my beans and time on something that is that intertwined with Java, only because of Oracle's bad reputation with this control freak/closed ip business.

    see. bad reputation hampers something that runs on your platform. in turn, that hampers your platform. reputation counts a lot.
    • Eclipse is owned by IBM. They have their own Java development environment including compilers free of Oracle. If I owned a java shop I would rather switch to them than to use Oracle and my guess is Oracle is trying to act like IBM.

      Netbeans is what I use and it is unfortunately owned by Oracle. :-( I want to gradually free myself from it soon if I make time to learn Eclipse. Both Eclipse and Netbeans are great for php, C++, and even python. You do not have to use them to develop Java software.

  • []

    Sooooooo..... what's the problem? If there are 447 patent infringement problems in Java itself, it seems like the issue is going to affect more than just Google.

    • by mswhippingboy ( 754599 ) on Sunday February 20, 2011 @10:56AM (#35259684)
      Java is "technically" open-source under GPLv2 (OpenJDK), but it's license contains an extra clause (classpath exception) designed to prevent someone from forking it. In order to fork Java and be granted protection from enforcement of Oracle's patents, the fork must pass Oracle's TCK (compatibility test). However, the catch-22 here is that Oracle will not license the TCK, so no fork can pass the TCK, so no fork can be granted patent protection, so, as in the case of Google, they would get sued for patent infringement.
  • Seriously, Google uses Java prolifically enough across multiple platforms --- why not just buy the rights to Java and open source it. The company has tons of money, and I'm pretty sure Google would be a better steward. I mean, how long has Java 7 been in the works? Even Google's own Java architect thinks the language has fallen behind []. Google could fix what's wrong with Java and in record time.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann