Time called on free source Java implementation

Apache Harmony finally shelved in the Attic

In news that comes as no surprise, the open source Java implementation Apache Harmony has been discontinued. The Project Management Committee (PMC) voted overwhelmingly in favour, 20 to 2, to send the project to Apache Attic, where inactive projects lie dormant.

Many in the industry speculated Harmony's demise was on the cards, after main corporate sponsor IBM switched to focusing on OpenJDK. With Android tied up in their legal battle with Oracle, the hoped backing never came and those voting agreed it was time to end the project.

Since IBM's disengagement with the implementation in October 2010, discussion and development on the project has all but ceased. Over the years, Harmony has been at the centre of controversial battles - notably the difficulties of obtaining a Java SE 5 TCK license from Sun Microsystems. Former PMC Chair for Harmony, Tim Ellison stepped down in March 2011 stating that he thought it was too earlier to send it to Apache Attic but it appears that time has now come.

Apache Harmony retained immense popularity amongst Java developers craving an open source implementation of standard Java, but the fact remains that without the support of the big-hitters, it was always on borrowed time. OpenJDK now becomes the sole open source implementation of Java SE and with Oracle, IBM, Apple and many others behind it, its support is now stronger than ever.

The code will still remain available for developers to use, within the Apache Attic. There has been talk of a possible forking of the project but this seems unlikely without anyone willing to back Harmony, or challenge the might of OpenJDK. But after being concieved six years ago, the project originally intended to bring together all Java developers from free implementations, the project comes to an end.

Chris Mayer

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