Everyone but Oracle demands Java independence

Roadblocks for Ellison's roadmap


Exclusive Last week, at its mega OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, Oracle laid out its roadmap for the future of Java. But there's a catch: Oracle's plan stands little chance of succeeding.

Earlier this month, the Java Community Process (JCP) – the only body with the power to ratify and approve changes to Java – passed a resolution calling on Oracle to spin the group out as an as a independent, vendor-neutral body where all members are equal. In 2007, Oracle itself called for such a spin-out, and this month's resolution insists that Oracle live up to its three-year-old proclamation.

The vote was nearly unanimous, according to one JCP member. Only one company abstained from the vote, and that was Oracle.

Those who voted on the resolution include representatives from Google, IBM, Red Hat, Intel, VMware, Nokia, AT&T, Research In Motion, Vodafone, and the Apache Software Foundation (ASF).

The vote was passed before OpenWorld, where Oracle server technologies head Thomas Kurian outlined his Java roadmap as a done deal, claiming it was based on consultation with "developers".

Further undermining any claims Oracle might make about support from the Java community, the board members have also discussed passing a symbolic vote distancing themselves from Oracle's prosecution of JCP member Google over claimed patent violations in Android.

Google's Android uses a subset of the ASF's Project Harmony, a Java SE implementation, in its own incarnation of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) known as Dalvik.

The Reg has learned that most of the JCP feels it has been unfairly associated with Oracle's fight against Google, thanks to Oracle status as Java's main steward.

Separately, there's an underlying belief among JCP members that Oracle should agree to permit Java SE on mobiles. In other words, members have drifted away from Java ME.

There's no confidence and little interest in Java FX for rich internet applications and interfaces on devices running Java ME. Oracle inherited Java FX from Sun, and it has declared that FX is the company's chosen technology for rich-internet applications and interfaces on Java ME phones. As part of the Java roadmap laid out last week, Oracle gave its plans for Java FX and Java ME.

While the vote on Google wasn't taken, the fact that it was floated – combined with the successful vote on independence – shows that the JCP is disillusioned with Oracle and that relations between the pair are at an all-time low.

September's resolution on independence repeats a vote submitted by Oracle in 2007 with BEA Systems (see here), which was recently flagged up by Java father James Gosling.

But rather than live up to its 2007 call, Oracle has rehashed earlier proposals from Sun, the company that held the dominant position on the JCP and whose role Oracle has inherited. Those proposals keep the JCP firmly under Oracle's control.

Last week, Kurian told press at OpenWorld that he'd made a number of proposals to the JCP on its future, but refused to discuss or detail them until a decision had been made.

Now we know why Kurian wouldn't talk. Two months ago, we're told, Kurian re-proposed Sun's old idea for an expanded executive committee and for more open elections.

Acceptance of such a plan would mean that Oracle retains Sun's power of veto over any changes to Java that it dislikes, that Oracle won't reconsider introducing a simplified licensing and IP policy for Java, and that it won't take any steps whatsoever to settle Sun's long-running dispute with the ASF over licensing of Java Test Compatibility Kits (TCKs).

Next page: Strained relations

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