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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