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Oracle promises to obey own OpenJDK rules

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Oracle is drafting rules it says even it can obey to run the open-source reference implementation of Java, OpenJDK.

The giant's Java platform group chief architect Mark Reinhold revealed on Monday that his company has been working since November on a series of bylaws intended to govern the recently expanded OpenJDK project.

November was just after Oracle persuaded IBM to abandon a rival Apache Software Foundation Project (ASF) Java project, and when Steve Jobs' Apple got onboard OpenJDK.

Reinhold said that Oracle is working with IBM, open-source tools group Eclipse, and Java expert Doug Lea, who quit Oracle's other Java community group last year - the Java Community Process - saying that the group was no longer credible as an independent standards body because Oracle is disregarding the rules to push through Java 7 and Java 8.

Already taking heat for the OpenJDK's rules, here, Reinhold said that no one company would be exempt, and that everybody would observe his rules. "The rules will apply to all contributors, whether they work for a large company, a small company, or no company at all," he said.

In Lea's parting shot from the JCP written in October of last year, he hammered Oracle for trampling that group's rules.

Anyone not buying Reinhold's reassurances and concerned by Oracle's general attitude of "Oracle knows best", might also be perturbed by the fact there's a lack of input from some of OpenJDK's biggest contributors outside of Oracle and the former Sun Microsystems: Google, Red Hat, and Canonical are not mentioned by Reinhold as having contributed to his draft rules.

Long-time Eclipse executive director Mike Milinkovich points out the rules are a draft, saying feedback is wanted from Red Hat, Google, and Apple.

"What this group has done is simply work on a first draft for community feedback. Because, well, someone had to do it :-) We look forward to hearing feedback from everyone in the community. And that certainly includes large contributors such as Red Hat, Google and Apple," Milinkovich blogged.

Milinkovich has no past involvement in the OpenJDK, and said he'd been asked to contribute, something he called "an honour and a pleasant surprise." He suggests that his background at Eclipse may have helped. Oracle is a long-serving member of Eclipse, whose biggest single member remains IBM.

"Given that Eclipse is also a community which involves participants ranging from individuals to some of the world's largest corporations I believe we have some experiences which are helpful and relevant to the governance of OpenJDK," Milinkovich said here.

Reinhold's draft rules, which draw upon the earlier work of the Sun-chartered OpenJDK Interim Governance Board, are due for public comment "soon," he said. Members of that original governance board were Lea and two former Sunners Simon Phipps and Dalibor Topic, and Brazilian Java rep Fabiano Nardoni.

Reinhold said that he has been working with Lea, Milinkovich, and IBM since IBM and Apple decided to park their well-apportioned corporate buttocks on the OpenJDK bench late last year.

Oracle persuaded IBM to join in OpenJDK, and to walk out of the Project Harmony Java Standard Edition (Java SE) effort from the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) that IBM had been participating in since 2005. Among IBM's justifications for switching was an expectation of "long needed reforms" for the JCP group, whose rules Lea said Oracle had been busy trampling.

Oracle has denied Harmony a Java license, meaning that ASF has been unable to test and certify its Java SE or to legally call it "Java".

Apple joined the OpenJDK just after Steve Jobs' company sent devs into paroxysms of terror by announcing that it planned to deprecate the existing incarnation of Mac Java – the Mac has risen up the rankings as a platform for coding apps since Microsoft's Windows Vista fiasco. Apple said it would now contribute "most of the key components, tools, and technology" for a Java SE 7 implementation on Mac OS X to OpenJDK.

"After IBM and then Apple joined the OpenJDK Community it became clear that it was time to revive the effort to create a written set of rules by which the Community will operate," Reinhold said. ®

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