Sun Addresses Apache Complaints

Sun Microsystems Inc.'s olive branch to the open source community could be the highlight of this year's JavOne show.

SAN FRANCISCO—Much of the talk at this years JavaOne developer conference will center around Javas push into Web services and its escalating support in the wireless world. However, some see Sun Microsystems Inc.s olive branch to the open source community as the highlight of the show.

"J2EEs [Java 2 Enterprise Editions] support for Web services is important, but the important news this week is the Java Community Process attempt to make peace with the Apache Software Foundation," said Stuart Halloway, chief technology officer at DevelopMentor Inc., a Los Angeles-based software development training and consulting firm.

"The open source community is a necessary ally in designing and implementing the Java APIs for Web services, and it is encouraging to see the JCP taking note of that fact," Halloway said.

In a letter of response to the Apache Software Foundation, Robert Gingell, a Sun fellow and vice president, and chairman of the JCP, addressed concerns the Apache group had regarding the JCP. The Apache group said that, in some ways, the JCP was hindering open source initiatives, particularly agreements related to Suns Java Specification Requests (JSRs). Gingells letter appeared on Suns site March 26.

In its own statement last month, the Apache foundation said Suns JCP rules included many "restrictions which have hindered open source implementations of the JSR specification."

Among its goals, Apache said, were that the Java Specification Participation Agreement (JSPA, which oversees participation in the JSR process) must require that a JSR spec license cannot prohibit a compatible independent open source implementation of the JSR; the JSPA must grant an Expert Group the right, at the Expert Groups discretion, to release its own reference implementation (RI) or test compatibility kit (TCK) under an open source license; and that the JSPA must grant an expert group the right, at the expert groups discretion, to have their discussion and drafts made public when they desire, even if the time happens to be before public review. Also, because a TCK license is required when performing an independent implementation and TCK licenses often cost tens of thousands of dollars, the JSPA must require all TCK licenses be easy to obtain by an open source or academic group, the Apache foundation said.

"Because Sun runs the JCPs Program Management Office, Suns opinion on whats allowed is very important," the Apache statement said.

Gingells letter said the JCP has issued a draft of a new JSPA agreement and a revised draft that addresses the Apache groups concerns. Gingells statement can be found at

The JCP addressed Apaches first concern outright in its initial draft, but only partially addressed the second one. A revision to the draft goes further.

"The draft of the JSPA submitted to the community for review would permit the TCK to be so licensed, but not the RI," Gingells statement said. "We have written and circulated a change to the draft JSPA that would permit the RI to be so licensed."

Also, Gingell said to meet the needs of organizations "long on energy and short on financial resources," the JCP has drafted a change that would deliver no-cost access to TCK implementations to not-for-profit or educational organizations.

In addition, Sun will offer an annual scholarship program to cover access to support services for TCKs offered by Sun, Gingell said. Sun will fund the program at $1 million a year for the next three years.

Gingells letter said the JCPs proposed changes meet "both the letter, and more importantly the spirit, of what Apache has required."