The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) announced today that it is resigning from the executive committee of the Java Community Process (JCP), the governance body responsible for managing standards related to the Java programming language. The move is a response to Oracle's ongoing failure to comply with the intellectual property policies established by the JCP.
The heart of the issue is that Apache can't certify that its open source Java implementation—called Harmony—conforms with the Java language standards because Oracle refuses to supply the necessary test suites under a suitably open license. Oracle's position on the issue falls afoul of JCP policies, which stipulate that standards and other relevant materials must be freely redistributable and made available under terms that are conducive to enabling third-party open source implementations.
This conflict has been a subject of considerable friction for quite some time, because Sun similarly denied the ASF appropriate access to the test suite prior to Oracle's acquisition of the company. Oracle had initially sided with Apache in calling for the test suites to be published under open terms, but reversed its position after acquiring Sun. Oracle's approach to this issue suggested very strongly that the company would likely not be willing to fix any of the long-standing JCP governance problems that had arisen under Sun.
The ASF responded last month by calling for JCP members to block ratification of the next version of the Java standard as a means of protesting the governance issues. Their statement urging votes against the standard succeeded in raising awareness of the cause, but they didn't get enough support from the JCP executive committee, which voted to approve the Java Standard Edition 7 specification despite the ASF's pleas to block ratification. The ASF is now resigning from the governance body's executive committee, declaring that the JCP has failed as an open specification process.
"The Apache Software Foundation concludes that that JCP is not an open specification process—that Java specifications are proprietary technology that must be licensed directly from the spec lead under whatever terms the spec lead chooses; that the commercial concerns of a single entity, Oracle, will continue to seriously interfere with and bias the transparent governance of the ecosystem," the foundation declared in a statement.
Although other open source Java stakeholders and key members of the JCP executive committee have vocally criticized Oracle for its position on test suite licensing, they have opted to tolerate the governance problems in order to avoid further friction. One prominent example is IBM, which reluctantly discontinued its involvement in Harmony in favor of Oracle's own open source Java implementation.
Apache's departure is a serious blow to the JCP's credibility. Apache was a long-standing member of the JCP and has made substantial contributions to advancing the Java ecosystem. It's unclear what this move will mean for the many Java projects hosted by Apache.
Source: ars technica