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Apache Software Foundation Resigns from JCP

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The Apache Software Foundation announced their resignation from both the JCP Executive Committee as well as the JCP as a whole. Given their earlier statements around the JCP and the Apache Harmony TCK dispute, this move was expected by most observers.

They follow recent departures such as Doug Lea in October, who said “I believe that the JCP is no longer a credible specification and standards body”, as well as more recently Tim Peierls, who voted against the Java SE JSRs.

The decision, whilst widely expected, shines a light on the specific issue at hand; that Oracle has “failed to uphold their responsibilities under the JSPA” in providing reasonable and non discriminatory licensing for the Java SE TCK. In fact, in court Oracle recently acknowledged that they used to support Apache in an open TCK, whilst claiming in court that they “were and are available free of charge to qualifying universities, colleges, not-for-profit organizations, and individuals ”

Apache finish by claiming that the JCP's integrity has been damaged beyond repair.

The Apache Software Foundation concludes that that JCP is not an open specification process - that Java specifications are proprietary technology that must be licensed directly from the spec lead under whatever terms the spec lead chooses; that the commercial concerns of a single entity, Oracle, will continue to seriously interfere with and bias the transparent governance of the ecosystem; that it is impossible to distribute independent implementations of JSRs under open source licenses such that users are protected from IP litigation by expert group members or the spec lead; and finally, the EC is unwilling or unable to assert the basic power of their role in the JCP governance process.

In short, the EC and the Java Community Process are neither.

Oracle have responded to Apache's departure with a claim that they have to move Java forwards and a plead to come back:

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.

However, the news quickly trended on twitter with #JCPisDead, mostly from retweeting Apache's announcement. Some have gone as far as saying The JCP is Dead ... and Oracle killed it, a view shared by Stephen Colebourne

And so, the JCP is dead... All that remains is a zombie, walking the streets of the Java ecosystem, looking for brains...

Since the stalemate with Oracle is unlikely to change, the Apache Software Foundation is unlikely to come back to the JCP; though it is considered a sham by some now in any case. This mirrors the increasingly hostile feelings towards Oracle in the standoff regarding Hudson and Oracle's false claims to the Hudson trademark. Some even see not having Oracle on-board is an indication of project quality. Neil Bartlett weeps for the experts, who have been caught in a political cross-fire.

Ultimately, Oracle's acquisition of Sun was about getting a bargain in order to drive more revenue. With the community drifting away from the JCP and Oracle's TCK Trap, Oracle seems more interested in driving short-term economic gain whilst running Java (and the community) into the ground. Unfortunately, communities can be powerful movers in the technology world; look at the recent growth of SpringSource and their acquisition by VMWare, which happened through significant community building and therefore sponsoring of products.

Oracle appear not to have a clue yet, and the ongoing lawsuit with Google now looks to bring this into sharp focus from an economic perspective.

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