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Java guru quits over Oracle 'disregard'

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A top Java programming guru has quit Java's governing body, the Java Community Process, over Oracle's heavy handedness, as Oracle denied it is trying to pack the group with sympathizers.

In a fiery resignation letter, Doug Lea, an authority on concurrency in Java, wrote here: "I believe that the JCP is no longer a credible specification and standards body, and there is no remaining useful role for an independent advocate for the academic and research community on the EC (executive committee)."

Lea, who led Java for desktops and servers, blamed Oracle for not fixing rules that he says were broken by Sun Microsystems. He appeared to pick on the fact that Sun violated the JCP's governing principles by refusing to grant a license to the Apache Software Foundation's (ASF) Project Harmony.

Harmony, an implementation of Java Standard Edition (SE), cannot be tested to receive a license because Sun - and now Oracle - refused to open source the test compatibility kits (TCKs) and modify the field of use restrictions. The latter say where a certified version of Java - like Java SE - can be used, which is important as portions of Harmony have been used on mobile in Google's incredibly successful Android platform.

Under the JCP's Java Specification Participation Agreement (JSPA), Java licensees are allowed to develop and distribute implementations of a Java Specification Request (JSR). Sun, and Oracle, signed the JSPA and are breaking the JCP's governing principles.

"Rather than fixing rules or ceasing violations, Oracle now promises to simply disregard them. If they indeed act as they have promised, then the JCP can never again become more than an approval body for Oracle-backed initiatives."

Lea calls on developers to abandon the JCP as a venue for changing Java, and instead turn to the OpenJDK project because it is a "shared source, not a shared-spec body".

Lea was a "ratified" member of JCP's Java SE and Enterprise Edition (EE) executive committee. The committee, with the Java Mobile Edition executive committee, is currently electing new members. The committees shape the direction of Java SE, EE, and ME.

Ratified members are those nominated by the JCP's Project Management Office (PMO), a group under Oracle's direct control through its acquisition of Sun.

Just as Lea has walked out, the PMO has nominated a replacement that has people wondering who exactly they are – and who is clearly very, very close to Oracle.

JCP election

This is Scott Shapiro, a certified Java developer from Hologic - a women's' health company in the North Eastern US. Hologic's big claim to fame in tech is that it is a flagship Oracle customer.

Hologic's Java bona fides rest in its consolidation of varied systems into a core set of Java-based technologies for manufacturing, sales, marketing, finance, operations - meaning, presumably, Oracle's E-Business Suite.

Two ratified members are also standing for re-election: Geir Magnusson, of the Apache Software Foundation and Mark Little, Red Hat's vice president of middleware engineering.

Java developers are now encouraging JCP members to vote "no" to Hologic's membership (here and here).

Oracle told The Reg that it nominated Hologic to "inject some much needed Java end-user and business perspective into the EC, as opposed to standards, technologist, technology vendor, and developer community perspectives - all of which are already well represented".

It said the EC's role is to ensure that JCP's expert groups function properly and meet the JCP's overall goals - "not, as some have said, 'rubber stamping' Oracle's desires".

Sympathetic JCP members would certainly serve Oracle's interests. Last month the company published a roadmap for the next versions of Java, Java 7 and 8.

However, JCP members in September voted for Oracle to release the JCP as an independent, vendor-neutral group. The move also calls in to question if they will accept the Oracle roadmap.

In spite, or because of this, Oracle told a closed meeting of JCP members in Bonn, Germany this month that one way or another it is "going to do this roadmap".

Bootnote

The ASF - at the center of the fallout between JCP members and Oracle over Harmony - agrees with Lea's claims that the JCP is faulty but won't follow him by walking out. Not yet, at least.

The open source group is waiting to see if fellow JCP members vote in favor of Oracle's roadmap for Java 7, outlined at OpenWorld last month.

ASF president Jim Jagielski told The Reg his group would reassess if it should stay in the JCP if fellow members vote in favor of Java 7. On previous versions of Java, Java members have stood with ASF holding up Java to ensure that Harmony could receive a license.

"At present we still think there's a possibly to incur some change to keep Java open," he told us. "Leaving now might be a little bit premature. It doesn't look good, but we are going to stick with it until it's obvious the EC is a sham." ®

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