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Oracle Nominates SouJava to Replace Apache on the JCP EC

by Charles Humble on Jan 31, 2011 |

Oracle has announced plans to nominate Bruno Souza as a representative of one of the world's largest Java user groups, SouJava, to the JCP Executive Committee. SouJava is variously reported as representing 20,000 or 40,000 members in Brazil through several branches, and in 2005 it became the first Java User Group (JUG) to join the JCP. Souza is the group's founder and recent president.

Announcing the decision Oracle's SE spokesperson Henrik Ståhl wrote:

We are looking forward to Bruno's active participation in the JCP and help us bring Java forward as well as help us reform the JCP in the coming years.

Whilst JCP chairman Patrick Curran commented:

Bruno has been a passionate supporter of open-source and of Java from its earliest days, and he would be a great asset to the Executive Committee, particularly as we work over the coming year to modify the organization's processes as we move into its second decade.

If successful Souza will take up the seat that Apache abandoned in December, after a long stand-off with Oracle concerning the TCK licensing arrangements for Java SE. Both Sun, prior to their takeover by Oracle, and now Oracle, have refused to provide a license for Apache to certify Harmony, its independent implementation of Java SE, without a field of use restriction.

The field of use restriction prevents Java SE from being used in embedded systems, and particularly mobile phones, which in turn represent a significant source of revenue for Oracle's development of Java through OEM licensing of Java ME. The concern for Oracle is that Harmony would allow OEMs to manufacture Java-based handsets without paying Oracle any licensing revenues. Indeed Google is arguably doing precisely this with Android. Oracle is separately claiming that Android violates a number of its Java patents and copyrights.

Apache's decision to leave to the JCP happened when the majority of JCP members voted yes to Oracle's roadmap for Java 7 and 8. Just three members voted "no": Apache, Google and Tim Peierls, though other members did register their unhappiness with Oracle along with their votes.

Writing on his blog Souza remarked

Personally, I see this as an opportunity to join the fight for more transparence and better developer participation in the JCP as well as working to make sure the Process respects the needs of open source communities. My discussions so far with Oracle make me believe that we are aligned on some of those issues, and it is clear we already agree on disagreeing in others. This is fine, disagreements are part of the process.

There are still many steps ahead: SouJava needs to run the election and receive the approval of JCP members. If the members understand our participation is beneficial, we'll need to get into the discussion and work out our proposals with Java developers. We understand [it] will not be easy, and it is hard to make a difference. But the group is strong and independent, [and] will not shy away from the discussions and hard decisions.

Also to be filled in the election are EC seats vacated by two independent members: Peierls and Doug Lea. Both walked out citing Oracle's approach to the JCP. Peierls stated that "the SE/EE EC is never going to be more than a rubber stamp for Oracle".

Last year, Oracle's attempts to replace Lea with a company called Hologic was overwhelming rejected by JCP members during an election in October and November. That election also returned Apache to the EC with 95 per cent share of the vote.

Stephen Colebourne, creator of Joda-Time and an Apache member, argued at the time that Hologic represented an attempt by Oracle to stack the JCP in its favour (Hologic is a large Oracle customer). InfoQ spoke to Stephen Colebourne for his view on Oracle's nomination of SouJava. He told us:

What SouJava have expressed is a desire to attempt to reinvigorate the JCP by pushing for greater transparency. What they need to push for is a separation of the JCP into two parts - the core specs (Java SE/ME) which Oracle wants to keep closed, and the other specs (Java EE and others) which Oracle seems reasonably happy to keep open. If that happened, Apache might consider re-joining the open part (this depends I suspect on how much control Oracle retains after any split).

I certainly have no objection to someone (and SouJava is as good as anyone) from attempting to do this. I'm unconvinced however that Oracle will make any changes of substance so long as the Oracle-Google case is open, simply because I suspect any action compromises their chance of victory.

So, from Oracle's POV, SouJava is a good choice, as they are a voice of the people in a similar way to Apache. I think SouJava is taking a risk, but there is a possibility of success. Bruno is certainly a capable person to take on the seat. I personally, as a JCP member, will vote Yes to SouJava.

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