Oracle and Java - the animosity continues

The latest news on Java’s ecosystem


Oracle attempt to re-engage with the Java Community

Oracle has had a fair amount of criticism when it comes to the
wider Java ecosystem and efforts have been made in an attempt to
re-engage. In the past we have seen some high profile departures
from the Apache Software Foundation as a result of certain
decisions that Oracle have made. So what are they doing to win back
the Java community support?

They have announced clear plans towards Java 8 and 9 and have
put their first foot forward in order to fix their relationship
with the Java User Group and Java champions.
reported that the attempt to build bridges has already
begun, with influential people from Oracle attending various events
and meeting throughout the world, as new JUGs have been springing
up rapidly in the last few days. There has also been a significant
growth in the OpenJDK project and a hard push to reform the Java
Community Process. It all sounds great so far….

Chairman Patrick Curran is in charge of improving the
transparency and agility of the Java Community Process. JSR 348 is
the first in a series of reforms which will inflict important
changes in regards to how the Expert Groups conduct their business
in public by using as the main infrastructure. This will
also apply to the Executive Committee but they will still have
private sessions, suggesting that complete transparency isn’t yet
fully realised.

Curran, however, doesn’t see this as a huge issue and told

I think this is an option that the EC should retain, but that is
should be exercised very rarely. The last time we went into private
session was in September 2010, when we discussed announcements that
we planned for JavaOne.

JSR 348 requires that communication will be improved, requiring
at least one public meeting per JSR as well as full documentation
of said meeting. Failure to do so invokes penalties, and this seems
like a good way to increase participation with JSR-decision making.
The Java Community Process released a 2.8 document that puts a
time-out on JSRs to make sure that process moves at the set
time-frame or it will face being shut down, the 348 is the first
series to introduce this.

This new pro-active side of Oracle towards the JCP is refreshing
and they have also announced that there will be an additional two
JSRs. This would involve combining the two JCP Executive Committees
(SE/EE and ME) under one banner, which seems slightly illogical
given Oracle’s drive to meld SE and EE together. A further JSR
would look into the disputes between IP and licensing rights.

At JavaOne, Oracle stated that there were five new candidates
for the open vote to the Executive Committee this year; Cloudbees,
Central Ohio Java Users Group, Twitter, Terracotta and Azul. This
is encouraging from a Java User Groups perspective, giving more
voices to the ecosystem, as well as bringing some of the elite
companies that drive innovation.

Last year it was stated that plans for Java 7 Standard Edition
would incorporate Project Jigsaw, bringing modular capabilities to
Java. There was much dispute in regards to the potential conflict
with the OSGI system which was already in place. Despite this there
has still been a fair amount of contributors to the OpenJDK
project. What is surprising is that the OpenJDK Community TCK
License Agreement (OCTLA) for Java 7 was released many months after
the original Java 7 was released. This made it extremely difficult
for external contributors to work on the platform.

Over the last few weeks we have seen the continuous battle
between Oracle and Google. The decision that Oracle made to sue
Google over its use of Java patents for Android has been under much
speculation. It has caused a lot of animosity within Google as well
as with Java developers, who need to be relevant in the world of
mobile. InfoQ reported that Java ME is becoming irrelevant in the
space and certain companies like Nokia have started to shift away
to a different development language as they felt disenchanted with
Oracle’s legal pursuit of Android.

InfoQ then goes on further to say:

In the context of Oracle’s dispute with Google over Android,
there is a fairly widely held belief that Oracle does not allow
people to use OpenJDK for embedded and mobile devices, wanting
instead to collect licensing revenue from OEMs. Whilst Sun (and
presumably therefore now Oracle) did have a field of use
restriction for commercial licenses to third parties, and indeed it
was to a large extent how Java development was paid for, there is
no such limitation in the OpenJDK code license. In other words, all
Google would need to do would be to ship a version of Android based
on OpenJDK, and keep it under a GPLv2 license.

This could possibly put an end to this dispute, but would Google
do it? IBM was in similar position and the situation was resolved,
however Oracle has not commented on this when they were approached
on the matter by InfoQ.

Are Oracle’s latest efforts to reform and revitalise the issues
within the Java ecosystem? Java could not afford to lose their hold
on Android but the reforms to JCP are encouraging, as are the
recent progressing in OpenJDK. 

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