Java bedhopping: IBM dumps Apache Harmony for Oracle OpenJDK

Java's Duke mascot (Oracle)
By Richi Jennings. October 12, 2010.

There's been a tectonic shift in open source land, as IBM throws its weight behind Oracle's OpenJDK and its Java Community Process. It's backing away from the Apache Software Foundation's Harmony project, which sought to build an open-source Java SE, independent from Sun/Oracle. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers ponder these strange bedfellows.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention crowdsourced "facts"...


Gavin Clarke reports the divorce:

IBM [is] ... putting its efforts into the OpenJDK project, run by Oracle, and switching away from the Apache Software Foundation's (ASF's) Project Harmony. ... IBM is not just committing engineers to OpenJDK, but that it's also backing the roadmap outlined by Oracle. ... It seems IBM blinked.


IBM has given up years of work trying to have Harmony certified as an independent ... compatible ... version of Java. ... ASF loses a major corporate patron in the fight for certification. ... IBM will hold ... a "leadership position" on the management and technical roadmap of OpenJDK. ... There will finally be an overhaul of ... the Java Community Process.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols clarifies some details:

The collaboration will center on the OpenJDK project ... Java Development Kit (JDK) and the Java Runtime Environment (JRE). ... The Java Community Process (JCP) will continue to be the primary standards body for Java specification work and both companies will work to continue to enhance the JCP.


In many ways, OpenJDK was Sun keeping its promise to open-source Java. ... Other projects, such as Apache's Harmony sought to create its own open-source version of Java SE 6. ... It appears the Apache Software Foundation may be willing to close its doors.

Christopher Dawson wonders what it means for Android:

IBM ... has effectively orphaned Android as a Harmony-based platform. IBM ... struggled for years with first Sun and then Oracle to have it certified. ... Where does this leave Google, Android, and its Harmony components? ... A major shift in codebase could badly hurt Android momentum.


If Android were still a fledgling platform on the Nexus One and a couple of T-Mobile phones ... [it could] join Oracle and IBM on the OpenJDK bandwagon, abandoning any Harmony-related code in Android. ... [That's] certainly be the easiest and cleanest choice legally. ... [But] I think a ... big Google middle finger to Oracle [is] more likely. ... The uninterrupted development of Android is far too critical for them to make the same leap.

IBM's happy, smiling Bob Sutor coins the phrase, "reverse fork":

[You sometimes] hear about ... people developing largely similar but separate projects who decide that they instead want to work together. ... It all comes down to “burying the hatchet” or otherwise resolving their differences for the sake of the project.


It became clear to us that first Sun and then Oracle were never planning to make the ... and certification tests for Java, the Java SE TCK, available. ... We disagreed with this choice, but it was not ours to make. So ... we decided to shift direction. ... We also expect to see some long needed reforms in the JCP. ... It’s time. Actually, it’s past time.

And Tim Anderson reads between the lines, with sadness:

What has really changed? ... The situation with the Java TCK is not new. ... Some intense negotiation has been going on behind the scenes, of which this is only part of the outcome. It is not yet clear ... what changes are happening to the JCP ... although Sutor refers to them almost as if they are a done deal.


This is a blow to Harmony. The current list of contributors has 31 names, of which 9 are from IBM, 3 from Intel. ... It is a shame to see an important open source project so much at the mercy of corporate politics.

And Finally...

Mind-blowing, crowdsourced "facts" 
[hat tip: Maggie Koerth-Baker]

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon