Update: Oracle asks Apache to reconsider Java committee departure

Oracle has asked the Apache Software Foundation to reconsider its decision to quit the Java SE/EE Executive Committee, and is also acknowledging the ASF's importance to Java's future.

The ASF announced its departure from the committee on Wednesday in a blog post, saying Oracle has too much control over Java. "The commercial concerns of a single entity, Oracle, will continue to seriously interfere with and bias the transparent governance of the ecosystem," reads the ASF blog.

The foundation was also irked by FOU (field of use) restrictions Oracle places on the Java Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK), which the ASF uses to test compliance of its own Apache Harmony open-source Java run-time against the Java standard. The restrictions block the open source Harmony's use on mobile platforms.

In a message released late Thursday, an Oracle executive made conciliatory gestures to Apache.

"Last month Oracle renominated Apache to the Java Executive Committee because we valued their active participation and perspective on Java," wrote Adam Messinger, vice president of development.

"Oracle has a responsibility to move Java forward and to maintain the uniformity of the Java standard for the millions of Java developers and the majority of Executive Committee members agree. We encourage Apache to reconsider its position and remain a part of the process to move Java forward. ASF and many open source projects within it are an important part of the overall Java ecosystem," Messinger wrote.

Indeed, the ASF sponsors some 100 open-source projects tied to Java in some manner, among them the Tomcat and Geronimo application servers. Oracle's olive branch-like response to the foundation could be an indication the company realizes its Java road map would suffer without Apache's participation.

At least for now, the ASF doesn't seem eager to rejoin the committee.

"Give us a reason why the ASF should reconsider other than 'please,'" ASF president Jim Jagielski said in a Twitter post Thursday.

The Java Community Process is "dead," Jagielski said in a blog post, also on Thursday. "All that remains is a zombie, walking the streets of the Java ecosystem, looking for brains."

"But maybe, from this death, a new, true community process might arise somewhere, with a different collection of people, one with no entity 'more equal than others.' That is something I think the ASF would be quite interested in seeing," he added.

Jagielski elaborated on his position in an email to IDG News Service.

"Without Oracle removing the FOU and thus abiding by the [Java Specification Participation Agreement], there is nothing really to talk about. If they want to really restart communications, and the ASF would be more than open to it, then remove the FOU," he wrote.

Apache officer Geir Magnusson Jr. also responded to Oracle's statement in an e-mail.

"What we're doing here is standing up for the idea that Java specifications should be open for anyone to implement and distribute under - but not limited to - free software and open source licenses. The terms that Oracle proposed for Java SE 7 simply preclude that, and it's interesting that Oracle won't even try to defend it in their response," he wrote. "If you read the voting statements, you'll see that we're not alone in this position."

Magnusson emphasized that the ASF is "in favor of Java moving forward," and noted its prominence in the Java ecosystem. "But it must be the case that our software can be distributed under the Apache License and our users must be able to use them without reasonable fear of IP litigation."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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