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I prefer my JARs sunny-side up

Posted by richunger on July 27, 2005 at 2:34 PM PDT

So, I'm sitting at my laptop, building netbeans... oh, wait ... OK, so I'm sitting ... oh, sorry, hold on... so, ... oh crap, not again.

Another scrambled jar.

This has to be the most rediculous, hoop-jumping compromise ever developed between a legal department and an engineering team. I really hope someone from Sun Legal will comment on this blog post, because I'd really like some public discussion with them on this subject.

For those of you who don't build netbeans source code, and are therefore in blissful ignorance of what I'm talking about, let me fill you in. The netbeans source code makes use of a number of third-party libraries. Any that are not licensed with the SPL are "scrambled" in the netbeans CVS tree, and during the build process, it gets unscrambled, but only after a popup window forces you to click through the license.

Mind you, I'm not just talking about proprietary libraries. You have to click through the Apache license every time you do a clean build of netbeans. In fact, there's very little here that is not OSI approved, aside from the javac bridge, which basically amounts to agreeing to the same license you agreed to already when downloading the jdk.

This stinks for a number of reasons:

1. It's annoying to me and everyone else who builds the netbeans source tree. Chances are, anyone building the tree has enough awareness of what's in the product that we shouldn't have to go through all this every time we do a fresh build.

2. No other OSS project out there feels the need to put these kinds of click-throughs when merely linking to OSS libraries with other licenses.

3. It's bad for the perception of netbeans as being open. This causes real damage to netbeans as a product, and is therefore counterproductive for Sun.

4. It causes all kinds of issues with automated scripts that prevent people from working with the netbeans tree (e.g. Gentoo, or anyone wanting to do headless builds).

This looks like a "cover-your-ass" maneuver left over from an earlier time when Sun had less of an understanding of how to work with OSS. Remember, NetBeans was one of Sun's first forays into OSS. Haven't other Sun projects come up with more refined CYA methodoligies by now?

Please, would a Sun lawyer like to comment? Let's get rid of the "scrambled jar" dinosaur!

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