How Should We React Over Java SE 7 JSR: Pragmatism Vs. Slash and Burn

Slash and Burn for Harmony?

Jessica Thornsby

Stephen Colebourne offers non-pragmatic alternative to forthcoming Java SE 7 JSR vote.

If there’s one word that’s pretty much guaranteed to crop in up
in any IBM/Oracle-related story, it’s ‘pragmatism.’

According to Mike Milinkovich, the Eclipse Foundation have taken
the pragmatic decision to register their disapproval over
Oracle/Sun’s refusal to grant Harmony the TCK – which inadvertently
led to IBM joining the OpenJDK project – but admit there’s nothing
they can do to alter the situation, and move on. Bob Sutor, Vice
President of Open Systems and Linux at IBM, refers to this as the “pragmatic choice” as
it’s clear no TCK is forthcoming for Apache. Even the chair of the
Apache Harmony PMC, Tim Ellison has made a statement that “rather than risk divergence the right
thing is to bring the key platform development groups together on a
common codebase.” Basically, given the situation, IBM switching to
IBM is the sensible move.

Stephen Colebourne, however, proposes a non-pragmatic way to handle this situation: he
predicts that, if the JCP Executive Committee vote against Java SE
7, it will encourage Oracle to terminate the JCP, thereby negating
the “old fixed positions in the JCP” and giving the community a
chance to start afresh.

It is a radical proposal, and it is entirely possible that no
organisation would be formed to replace the JCP. Stephen Colebourne
acknowledges that Oracle and IBM could, theoretically, completely
take over the Java platform in the absence of a JCP-like
organisation but, in his view, “isn’t that what just happened?”

In Stephen Colebourne’s opinion, there is a tough choice ahead
for the JCP and the wider Java community: vote in favour of the
Java SE 7 JSR, at the expense of Apache, and implicitly acknowledge
that Oracle/Sun have the right to withhold the TCK as the mood
suits them. Or, end the JCP, hope that “slash and burn yields a
better result from Oracle;” still get no TCK for Harmony and risk
reducing the community’s input into Java. Perhaps he speaks for the
entire community with his stark conclusion of “frankly, neither
option really appeals to me.”

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