All change at the top

Red Hat take OpenJDK 6 reins from Oracle

Chris Mayer

Oracle’s role in OpenJDK6 diminishes with Red Hat picking up the baton to provide bug support

After Oracle ended support for Java 6 last month, Red Hat have picked up the baton, assuming project leadership of the open source implementation, OpenJDK 6.

Java 6 is still used by a high proportion of enterprises running mission-critical applications, despite Oracle’s push for migration. The Java steward will continue to offer commercial support for that version, although it can be assumed that their focus is now squarely on OpenJDK 7 and the incoming OpenJDK 8.

However the open source giant aren’t just stepping in to pick up the pieces, as Red Hat now sit on the OpenJDK board, setting the direction for the wider initiative. The company were accepted last summer, but only chose to formally announce this now. In fact, the Linux vendor has been involved with the open source Java implementation since 2007, being the instigator behind the OpenJDK build project IcedTea.

The company’s long-time Java technical lead Andrew Haley will represent Red Hat’s interests on the OpenJDK board. He will also act as OpenJDK 6 Project Lead, after Oracle’s Kelly O’Hair stepped down in January for unspecified reasons.

Explaining the decision to take command of OpenJDK 6, Red Hat VP and Middleware General Manager, Craig Muzilla said that he believes Java 6 still “plays an important role” in today’s enterprises.

“It has had a profound impact on the creation and integration of technologies that have ushered us into the 21st century, shaping everything from banking and retail to transportation and research,” he said in a press release. “And Red Hat is leading the charge.”

Oracle’s need to focus on newer versions, with Java 8 just around the corner, left a gaping hole in support for those running legacy applications. As much as Java’s steward may not like to admit it, many are still reliant upon the version released in 2006. Oracle even pushed the EOL date back twice to allow more people to migrate to Java 7.

Passing it off to a company that has great experience within the open source Java community and a familiar face is logical, so they can ensure the highest quality in later versions. With the specification frozen, Red Hat’s main job will be to fix bugs and ensure that any changes in OpenJDK 7 are passed down the line.

Their role on the OpenJDK board means much more though, potentially creating a greater community voice at the top table.

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