I am intrigued by Sun’s response, or lack of, to Apache Software Foundation letter regarding the licensing of the JCK. For those that haven’t read the letter, it seems Sun is trying to impose license restrictions, via the JCK license, on Apache that would limit Harmony’s ‘field of use’. According to Apache, these restrictions are in violation of the JSPA agreement and would essentially require Harmony to be issued under a software license that would not be consider open or free. Not a great situation for Harmony.
There are two aspects that intrigued me:
1) How Sun responds to such a public letter in the blogshere, and
2) The impact this situation has on Sun’s strategy to open source Java.
The Response So Far
Sun has a well deserved reputation for being a company that makes effective use of blogs. Starting their CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, it seems everyone in Sun has a blog and a lot of them have some great content. For instance, when the founder of WordPress slammed Sun for their support of start-up companies, Jonathan responded quickly. Not many other large software companies have this high level commitment to blogging. I really do think Sun gets it and knows how to communicate via blogs.
Therefore, I am really surprised to see the lack of response from Sun. I know some people, like Matt, have called for patience but I can find only two posts from Sun employees: 1) from a PR person who to their credit got something out very quickly but the content is basically PR spin, and 2) a passionate, but probably regrettable response, from a Sun technical director, that essentially accuses Apache of extortion. Where is the comment from Jonathan or Simon Phipps, Sun’s goto open source guy, or how about anyone else from Sun?
How open is open?
Sun made the bold move of open sourcing Java and they should be congratulated for doing it. However, I think how they respond to Apache will set the tone for how open Sun plans on being with Java.
- Why have the ‘field of use’ restrictions been add to this license, when other TCK’s have been licensed to Apache without these restrictions?
- Is there a plan to impose ‘field of use’ restrictions on all open source implementations of Java, including the ClassPath project?
- Will the Sun sponsored openJDK also be limited by these restrictions or will OpenJDK receive special consideration?
- What is the governance model that Sun plans to use for OpenJDK? Does Sun plan to have open governance for OpenJDK or will it continue to be Sun controlled?
I am sure the internal discussions within Sun are pretty intense on this subject and likely a reflection of their non-response. However, when they do respond, I think it will set a clear signal on how open Sun will actually be.
The marketing slogan for the upcoming JavaOne conference is ‘Open Possibilities’. I just hope that is isn’t really ‘Open Possibilities, according to Sun’s rules’.