The Apache Software Foundations has threatened to quit the Java governing body if Oracle continues to refuse a restriction-free source code test kit license for the Harmony Project.
The Apache Software Foundation has threatened to quit Java's
governing body altogether if Oracle continues to refuse a test kit license for
the Harmony project.
In a statement posted on Nov. 9 to the foundation's blog,
Apache said it will leave the Java Community Process (JCP) if their "rights as
implementers of Java specifications are not upheld."
ASF is referring to its ongoing wrangle with Oracle to get a
Java SE test kit license (TCK) for its Apache Harmony project, an independently
developed open-source implementation of Java.
The controversy centers around the "Field of Use" (FOU) restrictions
currently in place on the TCK. Field of
Use defines what platforms the product can or cannot execute on. For example,
the terms can specify that Harmony-based products cannot run on a mobile
device. It would be very difficult for Apache to enforce that rule without
rewriting its own license, not to mention that it runs counter to the whole
concept of open source.
Oracle has said it will not offer Apache a TCK license for
Harmony without the FOU clause. Sun Microsystems originally demanded FOU
for Java SE's TCK back in 2006, which Apache roundly rejected.
Oracle picked up the dispute along with Java along with its Sun
. Ironically, Oracle was originally a Harmony supporter and
called on Sun to offer the TCK without restrictions. The database giant
reversed itself after the Sun
"We believe that this is a final decision from Oracle and
that there are no further opportunities for productive discussion on this
topic," ASF said on its blog on Oct. 21.
According to a JCP rule established in 2006, members are
"entitled" to a license for the test kit for Java SE to test and distribute
Java-based projects, said Apache.
Apache needs the test kit to verify that Harmony conforms to
the Java specifications so that it can release the project as "Java-compliant."
Without the test kit, there's no way to prove compatibility.
Oracle's refusal blocks Apache from releasing Harmony as "a
TCK-tested spec-compliant Apache-licensed implementation of Java SE," said the
In addition to threatening to quit, Apache made it clear
that it plans to vote against the Java SE 7 specification and encouraged other
JCP members to do the same when it comes up for a vote. Java SE7 is the next
version of Java
under Oracle's roadmap
In this instance, a vote against Java SE 7 is tantamount to
a vote against Oracle.
If Java SE 7 is not ratified at the vote, Oracle's Java
roadmap is impacted, which would further besmirch Oracle's reputation within the
greater open source community. With OpenOffice developers jumping to LibreOffice
declaring the "end-of-life" for OpenSolaris
, the company is already viewed
as an open source enemy
Members not following JCP rules should not be allowed to
participate in the group, Apache said. To express its displeasure with Sun's
insistence on FOU conditions, Apache voted against Sun-sponsored proposals in
the past, it said.
The Executive Committee of the JCP needs to continue its
"clear, strong and public support" for Java as an "open specification
ecosystem" that enables anyone to implement and distribute Java specifications
"under terms of their choice," Apache contends.
"Oracle is violating their contractual obligation as set
forth under the rules of the JCP by only offering a TCK license that imposes
additional terms and conditions that are not compatible with open source or free
software licenses," said ASF.
As the incident with OpenSolaris showed, Oracle does not
historically respond well to threats. It will also mean a tremendous loss of
face for Oracle to give in at this point.
IBM originally supported Apache's refusal to agree to the
FOU. However, in October, IBM announced it will shift developer support to
OpenJDK, the open source project initiated by Sun and currently supported by
Apache downplayed IBM's announcement, saying the projects
are "intentionally structured" around a "diverse" set of contributors to minimize
the impact even if a "prominent" contributor leaves, the foundation said.
Apache Software Foundation was elected to another three-year
term on the Java Community Process Executive Committee. As an executive
committee member, the foundation's goal was to bring "transparency and
openness" to the JCP and to ensure that Java specifications are "independently
implemented and distributed under open source licenses," the foundation said.
Overwhelmingly supported by 95 percent of JCP voters this
time around, Apache has sat on the executive committee for the past 10 years,
JCP executive committee members consist of 16 companies and
foundations, including Credit Suisse, Eclipse Foundation, Google,
Hewlett-Packard, and IBM.