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Oracle's strategy is now clear

Posted by fabriziogiudici on October 11, 2010 at 3:49 PM PDT

The huge news, that is the deal with IBM on OpenJDK, make it clear - if somebody still had doubts - about what is Oracle's strategy for Java: Java remains open, as per OpenJDK license, but there must be a unique open implementation, the OpenJDK. Quoting the linked post:

In a blog posting, IBM's VP of Linux and open source, Bob Suitor, further explained, "We think this is the pragmatic choice. It became clear to us that first Sun and then Oracle were never planning to make the important test and certification tests for Java, the Java SE TCK [Technology Compatibility Kit], available to Apache. We disagreed with this choice, but it was not ours to make. So rather than continue to drive Harmony as an unofficial and uncertified Java effort, we decided to shift direction and put our efforts into OpenJDK. Our involvement will not be casual as we plan to hold leadership positions and, with the other members of the community, fully expect to have a strong say in how the project is managed and in which technical direction it goes."

IBM hadn't done this earlier because, Smith said, "In the past, while Sun expressed interest in having IBM join, IBM didn't see a real dialogue. Under Oracle, doors have opened and we're pleased to work together now on OpenJDK."

This is basically sinking Apache Harmony. Google wouldn't be directly, technically harmed by this, as it is clearly able to sustain Android development on its own; but now they are alone. Of course, it makes sense to think that Oracle's strategy was also pursued by talking with IBM and others, including Google, as it was rumored; but Google refused, hence the patent-based lawsuit to consolidate Oracle's strategy. This strengthen others' and my own idea that Oracle doesn't really want to shut Android down, but to take it under the OpenJDK umbrella.

As the community, we must understand whether having Java open, but restricted to a single open implementation, would be ok for us. It's not a conclusion that can be made on the spot. Before people start screaming about a move to kill the community, people should first read this statement from the Eclipse community:

At least one major Java player is looking forward to IBM and Oracle joining forces in OpenJDK. Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, said, "Today's announcement is clearly good news for Java, and by extension the Eclipse community. It will strengthen the platform, increase the pace of innovation and solidify the value of the Java ecosystem."

So, at least one component of the community doesn't think it's bad. Of course, this doesn't mean it's good: one might just wonder how much the Eclipse Foundation is really independent of IBM. But I don't think it's the good way of reasoning, since it fosters cross-charges of "infidelity" and a possible fracture inside the community. That's why I hope people will think before writing. Of course, it will be a vane hope.


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The real test will come when

The real test will come when someone forks OpenJDK and builds a new project/product on it. Only then will we know how committed Oracle is to a truly open Java.

Oracle's strategy is the same

Oracle's strategy is the same as Sun's was, Oracle is just more cut throat about it. Both Sun, and now Oracle, wanted a single specification controlled by one company. That specification isn't truly open. That's why Sun wouldn't work with Apache, because they didn't want a completely open specification. Neither does Oracle. The money in Java came from mobile licensing. That money is disappearing because of Android. Oracle wants it back and they want Android users to pay them a licensing fee. OpenJDK is a good thing, but it's only open for the desktop. If you want to use Java on a mobile device then Oracle wants a cut. The source code is GPL'd but the patents aren't and the compatibility test suite isn't either. This debacle will probably end up in a settlement, where Google (or the Android implementers) end up paying licensing fees to Oracle. It's possible, but unlikely, that all of the patents will be invalidated. That would be a good thing but don't hold your breath. From Oracle's perspective, the best of all possible worlds would be for Google to get folded into the OpenJDK umbrella, for Dalvik to become the mobile implementation and for Oracle to continue to control the standards process, roadmap and licensing fees. You can decide for yourself whether that's a good result or not.

Oracle's strategy is now

It looks like a potentially positive thing. We'll have to see what are these changes in the JCP and whether the politics' role will be constructive...