Apache, Sun still in disHarmony

The open-source Java project moves forward with the announced availability of Harmony 5.0 Milestone 4, but disagreement remains over compliance testing

Because of this ongoing dispute, Apache lately has been voting against any JSR (Java Specification Request) that has Sun as being the specification lead. JSRs serve to amend the Java specification as part of the official JCP (Java Community Process). Sun, Apache believes, is out of compliance with the JCP because the company does not provide TCK licenses that do not inhibit how an implementation can be distributed, said Magnusson.

In response, a Sun representative said Wednesday that Apache is free to use any of three options for determining Java compatibility, including a scholarship program free of charge to non-profit organizations like Apache. The representative also referred to an August blog entry from Rich Green, Sun executive vice president for software, which addressed the issue. Green cited Sun's choice of the GNU General Public License version 2 as root of the problem.

"We knew when we chose the GPL and the free software model for Java technology that we couldn't satisfy everyone's desires. This is the case for the Apache Harmony Project at the Apache Software Foundation," Green said.

"Sun has offered Apache Harmony a license to use the JCK (Java Compatibility Kit) and the Java Compatible logo at no charge once their implementation passes the tests, and we're even offering free support to help Apache run the JCK. But because the Apache code is not governed by the GPL and does not require code-sharing by any entity using or modifying Harmony, the terms of this license are the same terms under which Sun licenses the JCK to commercial entities that build their own independent implementations of the Java SE platform," Green said.

"As was made clear in their open letter to Sun, [Apache] is not satisfied with these terms," Green said.

"Unlike the GPL, the Apache open source license does not require innovation to remain in the open. Java technology governed by the Apache license could be altered by any organization -- commercial or non-profit -- and rendered both incompatible and inaccessible to the community. The trust and value of "Write Once Run Anywhere" could not be upheld," said Green.

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Paul Krill

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