Eye on Oracle

Oct 12 2010   2:42PM GMT

IBM, Oracle to cooperate on OpenJDK Java development

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Oracle and IBM had a joint announcement yesterday that they will cooperate on Java development through OpenJDK, the open source implementation of the Java programming language that Sun Microsystems started in 2006.

Does it sound warm and fuzzy? Keep reading.

IBM’s decision to do this will change its development focus from Apache Harmony, another open source Java implementation, to OpenJDK, according to Bob Sutor, VP of open systems at IBM. Sutor basically acknowledges that Oracle’s control of Java forced IBM’s hand to make this move:

It became clear to us that first Sun and then Oracle were never planning to make the important test and certification tests for Java, the Java SE TCK, available to Apache. We disagreed with this choice, but it was not ours to make. So rather than continue to drive Harmony as an unofficial and uncertified Java effort, we decided to shift direction and put our efforts into OpenJDK.

Google’s Android operating system for mobile devices is based on Java that came out of Apache Harmony. IBM developers, who were big contributors to Harmony, are now moving away from it, leading some to think that Harmony will be effectively dead. This all fits nicely into the storyline of Oracle suing Google over its use of Java in Android. Coincidence? Is anything with Oracle a coincidence?

There has also been some talk on the Web about the Java Community Process “logjam,” and how this collaboration may eliminate that, or at least lead toward a more friendly development community for contributing to future releases of Java. James Gosling, considered the father of Java, wrote on his blog that he wasn’t sure if this news breaks that logjam.

“Only time will tell,” he wrote, “but I’d sure be happy if it does.”

There are skeptics, though. Simon Phipps, the former open source chief at Sun, wrote that “the real meat is in what’s not said, especially about the Google lawsuit, the future of Apache Harmony without IBM, the licensing arrangements, the governance of OpenJDK and the carving-up of control of the JCP.”

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