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Oracle offers Java distraction to Google fisticuffs

We're just like Sun, except when we're not

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Oracle has promised to follow Sun and continue working on open-source Java in an apparent attempt to create a distraction from the damaging spectacle of its legal showdown with Google.

Director of Java platform management Henrik Ståhl has promised that Oracle will be like just Sun Microsystems, working with the OpenJDK code base and developing the JDK under its GPL license.

Ståhl, who came to Oracle through the BEA Systems acquisition, said he wished to dispel "concerns" about the future of OpenJDK, and promised that Oracle would answer questions, take feedback, and share "more detail" on OpenJDK at the Oracle OpenWorld conference next week in San Francisco.

"We welcome the cooperation and contribution of any member of the community — individuals as well as organizations — who would like to be part of moving the most widely used software platform forward," Ståhl blogged here.

OpenJDK is the GPL'd implementation of the Java programming language released by Sun, and that became the basis for IcedTea. This is what Google could have used for Java on Android but — instead — went with a subset of Project Harmony and the Dalvik JVM.

Oracle is suing Google for patent infringement due to Mountain View's running Harmony and Dalvik on Android, instead of using the official Java for mobile devices — Java ME — or IcedTea.

The action earned Oracle the title of number-one enemy of open source, replacing Microsoft as the fulcrum of the axis of evil.

Any uncertainty Ståhl mentioned over OpenJDK is unsurprising, given Oracle's prosecution of Google on Java.

Oracle has done plenty to foster uncertainty elsewhere, too. The company didn't just kill OpenSolaris — another Sun open-source project, by the way — but it did so in a way that saw Oracle play perfectly the part of a major corporation that felt it was too big and too busy to care about "the little guy".

Now, though, it seems OpenJDK suits Oracle's purpose, serving as the technology one-two punch to the legal suit it launched against Google about Android and Dalvik

What details can we expect Oracle to share on OpenJDK? A peek at the OpenWorld schedule shows Oracle will do some talking — and a lot more listening — as Oracle tries to decide what it should do next with the project.

Six sessions will talk about debugging and multi-core, the latter using Project Lambda to put first class functions and lambda expressions in a future version of Java. Most sessions on OpenJDK, though, are billed as BOFS or community breakouts that'll be loosely structured events to generate discussion and feedback.

Oracle certainly needs to get serious, as there is currently a great deal of uncertainty over what happens to the delayed next versions of Java — with JDK 7 and Java SE 7 — that OpenJDK mirrors.

JavaLobby reports Oracle is trying to decide whether to add Lambda and two other projects — Coin for added simplicity for developers and Jigsaw for greater modularity — in a move that would delay JDK 7 and SE 7 and push them back into mid 2012, or whether it should deliver Lambda, Jigsaw, and part of Coin in mid 2011 and the rest in JDK 8 in 2012.

With sessions planned on Coin next week, plans to take "feedback", and with the body that approves changes to Java — the Java Community Process — having had little contact with Oracle about its future, there's nothing to suggest that Oracle is any closer on taking a decision where Java is headed.

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