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OpenJDK to be Java SE 7 Reference Implementation, Bylaws Ratified by Oracle

by Charles Humble on Jun 30, 2011 |

The OpenJDK Community Bylaws have been ratified, with 70 votes in favour, no votes against, and nine abstentions. Whilst this represents a major milestone for the OpenJDK project, building from an effort which was started by Sun in 2007, it should be noted that 61 of the yes votes were from Oracle employees, and 46 people who were eligible to vote didn't bother.

Drafts of the Bylaws have attracted some criticism. Former member of the interim governance board and Chief Open Source Officer at Sun Microsystems, Simon Phipps, scored the first draft proposal -3 on a scale from -10 to 10, citing a number of issues but particularly the way the governing board is put together. The board is made up of five members: a chair, appointed by Oracle, a vice-chair appointed by IBM, the OpenJDK Lead, appointed by Oracle, and two elected members. The current board comprises Mark Reinhold and Adam Messinger (both Oracle), Jason Gartner (IBM), and two independents - Doug Lea best known for his work on Java concurrency, and Mike Milinkovich, the Eclipse Foundation Executive Director. As Phipps pointed out, key members of the OpenJDK project, including Red Hat, Google and Apple are not included. These concerns have not been addressed in the final draft. Writing on his blog however, Mark Reinhold, Chief Architect of the Java Platform Group at Oracle, stated

Not everyone is completely happy with the Bylaws as they stand, but my sense from recent conversations is that most agree them to be a workable beginning and a firm foundation upon which further trust can be built over time.

OpenJDK is set to gain greater prominence, since it will be the official Java SE 7 Reference Implementation when Java SE 7 goes GA on July 28. The release implementation binaries will be available under both the BCL (the normal Java license) for commercial implementors and GPLv2 (with the Classpath exception) for open-source implementors. Oracle will continue to provide the TCK to commercial licensees, but also update the OCTLA license so that it covers Java SE 7. The latter allows open source implementors free access to the TCK to verify their implementations, provided those implementations are OpenJDK-derived and licensed under GPL (Apache Harmony, of course, is neither).

The change to OpenJDK will allow open-source implementors to study and evaluate the source-code, something which was historically difficult when Sun's JDK was used as the reference implementation, and also removes a point of confusion since the Sun JDK contained a number of features, such as the Java plugin, that weren't part of the standard.

The Bylaws will come into force around mid July, following the transition plan outlined in Appendix B of the bylaws.

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