Channels ▼

Eric Bruno

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Oracle Won't Say

June 10, 2010

Apache has been working on Harmony, which is an open-source version of the Java Virtual Machine licensed with the very liberal Apache Software License, for many years now. And while they've made steady progress in terms of code and released software, they've been at a stalemate with Sun and now Oracle over the Java Test Compatibility Kit (TCK or sometimes JCK).

With the TCK, Apache can certify Harmony as Java compatible, and officially brand it as "Java." But for obvious reasons, Oracle doesn't give this away for free - you must convince them to sell it to you, and then possibly pay royalty fees for each JVM shipped after that. Before you peg Oracle as the bad guy, remember that Sun/Oracle invented Java, they've spent a lot of their own money developing it over the years, and they have the rights to monetize and do with it as they please. Apache has refused to pay, and has resorted to a very nasty battle in the JCP, one which I wouldn't be surprised if it ended with Oracle abandoning it.

However, what makes this story interesting is that Apache is claiming that without being able to certify Harmony, developers will continue to use it and other non-certfied (aka non-compliant) versions of Java such as Android, and hence fragment the Java market. They're right, and it's happening. Although Google is careful not to come out and call Android's Dalvik VM Java, most Android developers consider it Java since it's basically one and the same. The language is the same, the libraries are mainly the same, and it will run most third-party Java code and libraries without issue. But it's not really Java since it hasn't been certified with the Java TCK, and there's a risk for fragmentation now and in the future.

You don't care, you say? Well, you might when your Java application or library runs on some Android devices, but not others, due to variations in Dalvik implementations. This is what Sun (now Oracle) has been guarding against. While I agree with this, what I don't agree with is Oracle's position, which is to DO NOTHING. Are they working to resolve this? They won't say. Are they going to sue someone? They haven't so far. Are they going to stop or continue OpenJDK? Won't say. Take a look at the following article which highlights recent Apache-Oracle talks, and you'll notice a pattern with Oracle at the end. When asked for a statement on the matter, they wouldn't say.


Related Reading

More Insights

Currently we allow the following HTML tags in comments:

Single tags

These tags can be used alone and don't need an ending tag.

<br> Defines a single line break

<hr> Defines a horizontal line

Matching tags

These require an ending tag - e.g. <i>italic text</i>

<a> Defines an anchor

<b> Defines bold text

<big> Defines big text

<blockquote> Defines a long quotation

<caption> Defines a table caption

<cite> Defines a citation

<code> Defines computer code text

<em> Defines emphasized text

<fieldset> Defines a border around elements in a form

<h1> This is heading 1

<h2> This is heading 2

<h3> This is heading 3

<h4> This is heading 4

<h5> This is heading 5

<h6> This is heading 6

<i> Defines italic text

<p> Defines a paragraph

<pre> Defines preformatted text

<q> Defines a short quotation

<samp> Defines sample computer code text

<small> Defines small text

<span> Defines a section in a document

<s> Defines strikethrough text

<strike> Defines strikethrough text

<strong> Defines strong text

<sub> Defines subscripted text

<sup> Defines superscripted text

<u> Defines underlined text

Dr. Dobb's encourages readers to engage in spirited, healthy debate, including taking us to task. However, Dr. Dobb's moderates all comments posted to our site, and reserves the right to modify or remove any content that it determines to be derogatory, offensive, inflammatory, vulgar, irrelevant/off-topic, racist or obvious marketing or spam. Dr. Dobb's further reserves the right to disable the profile of any commenter participating in said activities.

Disqus Tips To upload an avatar photo, first complete your Disqus profile. | View the list of supported HTML tags you can use to style comments. | Please read our commenting policy.