A sad day for Open Standards

First things first: I don’t care about Apache Harmony. It’s not part of my daily life, it doesn’t pay my bills, I never downloaded it, I’m not a member of the community and I don’t even have an Android phone. In fairness, I couldn’t care less if the project is abandoned. Even more, I will readily admit there is a positive side in IBM ditching Harmony and joining OpenJDK, as the world is now closer to enjoy a strong Java platform.

The problem is the price tag. With IBM surrendering to the Oracle bully, the Java Community Process is now as credible as Weekly World News, and basically nobody is safe. The spin pros have been busy focusing on a strengthened, renewed Java effort, and they conveniently (or should I say pragmatically?) forgot to mention how dangerous it is to be under the illusion that the JCP is a neutral and cooperative body producing Open Source friendly specs when the truth is Oracle can and do whatever they want, including breaching the JSPA and getting away with it. Or play puppet master even with mighty IBM. I wish all my FSF friends will soon recover from the initial excitement for a GPLed Java and realize how, really, the party is over and we have much less freedom than before. And maybe a better JVM with no competitors – but is it worth the price?

There is nothing worse than living an illusion: if you still believe Java is free just because there is a GPL JVM out there, a rude awakening lies ahead.



9 thoughts on “A sad day for Open Standards”

  1. I guess it depends upon whether you’re more interested in Open Source or Open Standards. IBM joining the OpenJDK effort was a win for open source java and a loss for the open standard java. Anyone who believes ‘java is free’ could believe anything – their JVM was gratis?

  2. @Will – I care about transparent, consistent and truthful statements. If ORCL wants to take the Java standard from the community and make it proprietary, that’s perfectly fine by me. I’m not OK, though, with ORCL claiming it’s a community standard, when clearly it is not.

  3. there is a concern here which is not addressed. Working with microsoft doesn’t mean you have to leave apache, but it does state the other more important fact: you will be working with microsoft, and you are associated in many ways. Moving to redmond is not working with microsoft? Har har.

    If you assume that the process will not be either a: subverted, b: copied and deprecated, or c: patent encumbered as a result, you are sorely mistaken.

    As the phrase goes, the leopard cannot change it’s spots.

    While microsoft does some (few) things exceedingly well, there are many aspects of their unfriendliness towards GPL that are present in many forms. Apache’s license is chosen because it is not completely compatible with GPLv3 – if it was, you would never see a: microsoft willing to work with you and b: you’d never be in a situation where apache can still create situations that can put GPL’d companies at risk.

  4. Matt,

    I’m actually happy, proud of and looking forward to working in Microsoft. I’m not sure what process you are referring to, but I do believe I did my homework in ensuring my Open Source efforts won’t be affected. And I’m not sure I can parse your AL/GPL reasoning either.

    Check back in some time and see what happened?

  5. I don’t understand how Sun could license OpenJDK under the GPL V2, AND, require the TCK! The GPL gives you the permission to modify the work…i.e. in the future fail a compatibility test. To me, these requirements are 100% at odds. Doesn’t this mean that the OpenJDK licensing is contradictory? Can someone explain?

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