Is OpenJDK Open-By-Rule?
The new governance for Oracle's open source Java project is out. How does it measure up?
Published 09:00, 04 February 11
For various reasons, the OpenJDK governance was never fully defined and the entire subject has been silent for over a year. However, Mark Reinhold (formerly of Sun and now chief Java architect at Oracle) published a draft governance yesterday, together with a list of Oracle and IBM's selections for the new Governance Board. As data points, it's worth noting that:
- The vast majority of the work on OpenJDK is conducted by Oracle staff.
- OpenJDK implements specifications devised at the JCP and does not invent features itself.
- OpenJDK is licensed under GPLv2 plus several license exceptions (notably the Classpath exception) to prevent unintended consequences of using the GPL.
- OpenJDK users are entitled to use the test suites (TCKs) and thus benefit from the Java brand under unique terms that apply only to OpenJDK. As far as I am aware only Red Hat has used this capability.
- Significant contributions to the success of the project have come from Red Hat staff, right from the start of OpenJDK.
- The individual contributors to the predecessor GNU Classpath project have also played a significant role in making OpenJDK a viable project, especially on GNU/Linux
- Google has also been a significant contributor.
- Much more recently, Apple has joined and contributed.
- IBM is showing early signs of contribution.
- It is widely assumed that IBM's decision to join OpenJDK and drop Apache Harmony was accompanied by a back-room deal with Oracle to get a preferential say in governance.