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Oracle eases Java's Oracle big-boy bias

Apache swapped for Brazilians

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Oracle wants to slip one of the world's largest Java user groups into the JCP seat abandoned by Apache.

The database giant has nominated Brazil's SouJava to fill Apache's old seat on the Java Community Processes' Standard Edition/Enterprise Edition Executive Committee (EC), and group founder and recent president Bruno Souza – a JCP member since 2002 and regular at JavaOne events, where he's typically cloaked in the Brazilian national flag – has been put forward by Oracle for the EC.

The seat is available because Apache stormed out of the JCP in December after losing a stand-off with Oracle.

Oracle had refused - without giving any explanation - to grant Apache a license for its independent implementation of Java SE, known as Project Harmony. Harmony is used in Google's Android, and Oracle claims that Android violates its Java patents and copyrights. Oracle has taken Google to court over the matter.

Apache's walk-out – the first such event in the JCP's history – was a response to most JCP members voting "yes" to Oracle's roadmap for Java 7 and 8, which continued to deny Harmony a license. Just three JCP members voted "no": Apache, Google and independent Tim Peierles. But other JCP members did register their unhappiness with Oracle along with their votes.

Apache is home to some of best known and widely used open-source tools and runtime projects for Java, so it's a massive loss for the JCP in terms of credibility and technology input.

SouJava represents 40,000 members in Brazil through several branches, and in 2005, it became the first Java User Group (JUG) to join the JCP.

Announcing its nomination of SouJava and Souza, Oracle did not acknowledge the recent drama surrounding the JCP.

"We nominate SouJava and Bruno to the EC expecting them to represent the interests of Java users and serve as a community counterbalance to Oracle and other large enterprises on the EC," Oracle SE spokesperson Henrik Ståhl wrote in short blog post.

In other words, Oracle wants to swap out Apache for SouJava to counterbalance the JCP's heavy bias in favor of major enterprise and corporate Java vendors. That includes companies like IBM and Apple, who aligned with Oracle during the whole Apache episode.

If Oracle expects the issues raised by Apache's run-in with Oracle to simply vanish with the exit of Apache and the elevation of with Souza, Oracle could be wrong. Last year's stand-off can be traced back to when Sun Microsystems was running the JCP and it refused to grant Harmony a license.

Souza wrote here he actually "felt at ease" with Apache inside the JCP because Apache's EC rep Geir Magnusson "was fighting for the things I believe, [and] made me feel that I had someone to defend my rights." His reports of early talks with Oracle suggest the giant is making no concessions on licensing or independence.

"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 respect[s] the needs of open source communities," Souza wrote.

"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."

Souza finished: "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, will not shy away from the discussions and hard decisions."

Souza must now be confirmed during a special election by JCP members. According to JCP chairman Patrick Curran, this will take place "shortly".

Also to be filled in the election are EC seats vacated by two independent members: Peierls and Doug Lea. Both walked out over Oracle's heavy handed approach to the JCP.

Lea walked out in October, saying that the JCP is no longer a credible specification and standards organization and that Oracle was violating the rules of the JCP by not granting Harmony a license. "One can only conclude that the SE/EE EC is never going to be more than a rubber stamp for Oracle," he said.

He noted that Oracle had been "belligerent" in expressing its intent to proceed with the Java 7 and 8 roadmap "whatever the outcome of the vote".

Last year, Oracle tried to stuff Lea's seat with one its own loyal customers - a company called Hologic - which was overwhelming rejected by JCP members during a election in October and November. The election also returned Apache to the EC with a thumping 95 per cent of the vote. ®

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