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R.I.P. Harmony

· Java Zone

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This week IBM announced that it will be joining Oracle in the OpenJDK and subsequently abandoing the Apache Harmony project.  While some are excited about the contributions that IBM will bring to the OpenJDK class libraries (IBM probably won't contribute to the JVM because they have their own competing technology), other Java community leaders like Stephen Colebourne, who has been following the Harmony controversy for many years, are disappointed that things had to happen this way.  It seems unlikely that another company would step in and keep Harmony alive since Oracle's lawsuit against Google's Harmony-based Dalvik VM essentially destroys any chance that Oracle will release a TCK for Harmony.  The project is likely dead in the water (i.e. headed to the "attic").

"In my opinion, Sun Microsystems behaved atrociously towards Apache Harmony," Colebourne blogged.  In the JSR 270 specification it clearly stated: "Nothing in the licensing terms will prevent open source projects from creating and distributing their own compatible open source implementations of Java SE 6, using standard open source licenses."  Colebourne blames Sun's "executive level" for breaking this promise and the associated legal agreements with the expectation that the Apache Software Foundation (a non-profit) would not sue.

Today, the legal agreements that entitle Apache to the TCK are no longer valid.  With the seemingly immanent death of Apache Harmony, Colebourne believes there's a chance that Apache could leave the JCP and this action, he says, "could terminate projects like Apache Tomcat, Geronimo, MyFaces, OpenEJB and OpenJPA in their current form."  However, each of those projects also provide good reasons for Apache to stay in the JCP.  

The JCP Meeting that Preceded IBM's Announcement - What Was Decided?
IBM made the logical decision when it realized that Harmony would never be recognized as Java and decided to move it's developers to OpenJDK.  A JCP meeting was held last week where IBM first announced its decision to join OpenJDK.  Oracle's Senior Director of Project Management Henrik Stahl blogged about a few details from the meeting, but he left the Java community guessing when he said, "This organization [the JCP] has been hugely successful in pulling together a wide range of organizations and individuals, but it is 15 years old and there is always room for improvement.  There were some really good discussions on this within the JCP last week, but you'll have to wait a little bit longer for a more detailed update on that topic :-)"  Hopefully the much-needed reform for the JCP is finally on the way.

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