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Gating Issue

The Apache Software Foundation has received no official response from Sun regarding the open letter mentioned above, other than a polite acknowledgment of receipt. While we are disappointed by this lack of visible progress, we still hope that Sun will reconsider their position regarding this issue of fundamental importance to the Java ecosystem. We do believe that bringing awareness of the issue to the community has been beneficial. We understand that friends of the Foundation and others that feel strongly about these matters are talking to Sun directly on our behalf. Further, we have seen this issue become a gating issue with JCP Executive Committee members as the consider how they vote on JSR. For example, see Intel’s and Red Hat’s comments on the recent vote results for Java EE 6. Apache will continue to do what it can to escalate this issue with the JCP Executive Committee with the goal that Sun will finally grant the ASF a TCK license for Java SE that is free of any field of use limitations.

The Apache Software Foundation has reconsidered its policy of allowing software used for general community work to be covered under an agreement such as the NDA. The general plan is to eliminate NDAs for project software in a way that minimizes the distruption to our communities. We will work with organizations such as the JCP and its spec leads to achieve an acceptable resolution. While a hard date has not be officially set, we’re looking for complete elimination of the NDA for project software by 2010. Discussion of this issue in the context of the JCP and the TCKs will take place on the list.

Sam Ruby: Gating Issue

jcgregorio : Sam Ruby: Gating Issue - So by 2010 the problems of basing our open source projects on one companies proprietary language will be solved, for some definition of “solved”....

Excerpt from HotLinks - Level 1 at

If they wanted more than a polite receipt in reply, ASF might’ve worded their open letter a little more ‘diplomatically’.

All other issues aside (and whether or not they’d become exasperated with the lack of progress), if I’d received a letter like that, I would’ve put it on the “deal-with-it-much-later-slush-pile”.

Posted by Jason R Briggs at

[from jcgregorio] Sam Ruby: Gating Issue

So by 2010 the problems of basing our open source projects on one companies proprietary language will be solved, for some definition of “solved”....

Excerpt from at

October 25, 2006

  Further, we are currently working on the Java SE 5 TCK (for the
  eventual Apache Harmony project), which is on course for having
  identical terms as our existing Java EE license.  We have been
  granted the scholarship for the support for Java SE 5 and I have
  had one draft of the TCK license, so there is measurable progress.

November 15, 2006

  Geir reported that there were no issues within the JCP
  requiring board attention at this time.

December 20, 2006

  Java SE TCK : Negotiations continue.  There is little progress
  to report in the public minutes.  I’ve proposed a “two phase”
  approach in which we’d receive the TCK to get started under
  restrictive terms,  and continue final term negotiations,
  but haven’t yet received a formal answer.  Current trend is
  negative, and have asked for a decision by 12/31.

January 17, 2007

  In other areas, we are still negotiating with Sun regarding the
  Java SE TCK license (also known as the “JCK").  Discussions on
  appropriate terms seem to be nearing an impasse, with the
  current terms unacceptable to the ASF.  There still is one
  more avenue of exploration, and if unsuccessful, will need
  to escalate inside Sun, or beyond.

February 21, 2007

  There are no major issues to report outside of the continuing
  discussion we are having with Sun around the terms of the
  JCK license for Java SE.  On that front, we seem to have
  come to an impasse.  I was hoping to have someting more
  substantial to report.  Sun is aware of this meeting and
  my update to the board.  Next steps will be to get advice
  from the legal councellors starting with the SFLC.
  Intent is to validate our interpretation of the terms of the
  offered license, and hopefully see if they can suggest
  steps forward, or intercession on our behalf.  Next week
  is the JCP EC Face-to-Face meeting, and we’ll do a presentation
  there of the issue to the full SE/EE and ME EC members.

March 28, 2007

  Last month I attended the quarterly JCP EC f2f
  meeting and was able to give a presentation on our JCK
  issue.  I first described a hypothetical case that
  was "structurally” similar to ours - where an imple-
  mentor was being deliberately denied a usable TCK
  license due to the business strategy of the spec
  lead.  I then argued why such behavior was
  prohibited by referring to the relevant sections of
  the JSPA.  Once I felt that the basics were clearly
  explained, I conducted a “straw poll” (informal,
  unrecorded) and IMO demonstrated that the EC generally
  agreed with our assertion that the JSPA prohibits
  field of use limitations in a TCK license.
  Once this was estabilshed, I informed the EC of the
  basic details of our dipute with Sun, after which
  followed a vigorous and somewhat heated general
  discussion.  I’m satisfied that our issue is
  clearly understood by the EC.

  In other related activities, we’ve asked the SFLC
  for help in this area, specifically to validate our
  interpretation that the offered TCK license is in
  violation of the JSPA from the perspective that the
  terms prevent us from distributing under an open source
  license,  and also act as a liaison between us and Sun,
  as Eben is prominently positioned by Sun as a supporter
  of their recent OpenJDK project.  They did agree with
  our interpretation of terms, and engaged in discussion
  with Sun (to no avail).

  I’ve also asked some other industry notables that
  are independent from the ASF and the various commercial
  actors in the Java ecosystem to appeal to Sun on our

  Given the lack of any material progress on this issue,
  I recommend that we explore what options and next steps
  are available to us. This will be done with the
  consultation and approval of the membership.

April 25, 2007

  This month we took the difficult step of sending an open
  letter to Sun Microsystems regarding our impasse in the
  licensing of the JCK (the Java SE TCK) for Apache Harmony.
  The letter was created with review and input of the membership
  on the internal members list, and was posted for public
  consumption on April 10, 2007.  Copies are available in
  the foundation/Correspondence/JCP repository.  Copies
  are also posted on the ASF JCP website
  ( and there also is a FAQ of
  relevant information.  We have asked that Sun respond
  to the ASF in 30 days, and at the point, we’ve received
  nothing but an acknowledgement of receipt by Jonathan

Posted by Sam Ruby at

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