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Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

Posted by editor on May 25, 2007 at 6:20 AM PDT

Let the OpenJDK forking race begin?!

Well, we knew there would have to be forks of the JDK once it went GPL; David Herron pointed out last month that this isn't a bad thing, because the risk of a hostile fork is low, due in part to the cost of maintaining a fork. So who's forking and why?

RedHat, for one, and for a good reason: they're launching an effort to package the OpenJDK for their distro, and further down the line, they'll try to incorporate parts of GNU Classpath to replace the "encumbrances" that prevent the OpenJDK class library from being 100% open-source. So it's a good thing... but it's still a fork. After all, there might be (heck, almost certainly are) other projects attempting using similar approaches to plug in parts of GNU Classpath to remove the encumbrances, and since they're derivatives of the original OpenJDK, and all different from one another, they're all OpenJDK forks.

We knew this was coming. It's OK. In fact, isn't this exactly what Sun asked for at JavaOne when they asked for help eliminating the encumbrances? Maybe they hoped that work would be done largely in the context of the OpenJDK project, but even if it's not, putting the GPL on OpenJDK means these derivatives must also go GPL. So long as the forks don't diverge too much from the original project, their work may still be mergeable back into OpenJDK.

I wonder when OpenJDK will be able, through their own work and what they can collect from the forks, to offer a completely open-sourced class library. With so many eyes on the effort, this is probably a question of "when", not "if". In fact, it would probably make a good poll question for next week...

Anyways, let me return to the posting that kicked off this editor's blog.
Topping Java Today,
a blog at spells out RedHat's Plans for OpenJDK. "Our team at Red Hat has been doing some planning now that OpenJDK has been released..." After summarizing the post-JavaOne state of OpenJDK, the blog spells out RedHat's intermediate goals: package OpenJDK as "IcedTea", build it with free software, set up a related project on, test without the encumbrances, try to replace encumbrances with parts from GNU Classpath, and more. "We're in an investigation stage right now, so precise timelines will have to wait until we've had more time to discuss the OpenJDK codebase and Sun's timelines."

The Mobile & Embedded community home page is featuring C. Enrique Ortiz's blog from the last day of the 2007 JavaOne conference, in which he discusses his participation in a debate during Motorola's keynote session, with Padmasree Warrior from Motorola and Ajit Jaokar from Open Gardens. You can also view the webcast of the debate.

Issue 122 of the JavaTools Community Newsletter is available, with tool-related news from around the web, updates from community projects, announcements of new projects that have joined the community, and a Tool Tip on finding bugs on Web applications with FireBug.

Sliding into the Feature Article slot is the latest mini-talk recorded at JavaOne 2007:
j1-2k7-mtT03: Web continuations with RIFE and Terracotta, by Geert Bevin.
"State management has always been a complex and tricky part of web application development. Continuations simplify this and automatically allow you to create a one-to-one conversation between users and a web application. State preservation and flow control no longer need to be handled manually, bringing you back to the simplicity of single user console applications. Remember 'scanf()'? This presentation will introduce continuations from general principles, followed by practical examples that explain how they benefit web application development and their frequent usage patterns. Finally, automatic fail-over and scalability will be demonstrated through the integration with Open Terracotta."