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My Response to Tim Bray of Sun Microsystems November 15, 2006

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.
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” I’m committed to Open Source but not generally a member of the Free Software movement. For Java, though, it’s the only thing that makes sense. It’s been given away freely for so long, and it’s worked its way into so many places, that it should belong to the community, and if anyone figures out how to make it better, they should just bloody well give that discovery back. So for my money, the GPL’s the only sane choice.

Its the only thing that doesnt make sense. The GPL is more restrictive than any other license out there. It doesnt give developers rights on what they can do with their code. You guys also fail to answer the question that if I write Java code and use your compilers and runtime will I be able to maintain my license and my copyright. The answer is No, Im required to make my offerings open source because my program relies on GPL’ed code found in the Java run time.

” But I think there’ll be lots of forks, and I approve. I suspect that basement hackers and university CompSci departments and other unexpected parties will take the Java source, hack groovy improvements into it, compile it, and want to give it to the world. They’ll discover that getting their creation blessed as “Java” requires running the TCK/trademark gauntlet, which isn’t groovy at all. So they’ll think of a clever name for it and publish anyhow.”

They are not required to run the TCK. Yes they can take it, run with it and not bother with the TCK and your argument that they will want to be blessed as Java is stupid and short sighted. Does Tivo want to be blessed as Linux? Does rPath, Forsight or even Linspire need to be blessed as Linux distributions? Nope, people know what they are,  trying to disguise yourselves as a governing body and trying to play dressup really doesnt benefit Sun, is really childish and it pisses me off that Mr. Tim Bray, Jonathan Schwartz and others at Sun Microsoystems think people are so stupid and cant see through it. Your TCK isnt worth a hill of beans anymore, once you GPL’ed Java you gave up any possible hope of control that you had. You have neutured yourself, the JCP and the TCK. Enjoy it.

” Remember: However many forks there are, it ain’t Java unless it’s called “Java” or has the coffee-cup on it. If it has the name and cup, it is Java and it’s compatible. And Sun will absolutely enforce that in court if we have to. We have in the past and we will again. ”

Good luck, anyone in the world can say “based on Java 5.0, Sun Java” etc and there is no recourse of action for you but to take it and grit your teeth, fight, fuss and complain and whine. Thats what they would call a nuisance lawsuit. And considering that Microsoft, doesnt go after Mono and it declares itself as an “implementation of Microsofts .NET” How long will your good will and charitable image remain intact if you sue people for taking your source code and doing what the GPL gives them clear rights to do, Modify, alter and redistribute. You were able to protect your Java rights in the past because you owned the rights to Java. Now you are essentially giving the rights away.

” What to do about the TCK code? Its status is still TBD, and is going to take some careful thought. Right now, the TCK is like the road test that you have to pass to get your driver’s license. It’s a hugely important piece of the Java compatibility story. It has to maintain its integrity and it has to be perceived as maintaining its integrity. So, what’s the right licensing structure to achieve that? Beats me.”

The TCK is dead, sorry. No one else to blame you killed it. No one else did.

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Comments»

1. Erik - November 15, 2006

Only time will tell… but at the moment I’m glad that Java is going to GPLd.

What do you think about this:
http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9005018
It has been great fun read GPL bashers and OpenSolaris/CDDL zealots comments… 🙂

2. rjdohnert - November 16, 2006

I think they will have a harder time, because Solaris still contains code not under the CDDL, or any open source license. Sun will have to take out that code and clean room implement something as reliable as the code they have to remove. Will not happen overnight and will take Solaris back years.

3. Tim Bray - November 16, 2006

Hey, pleased to meetcha. Your first paragraph is incorrect, because of the classpath exception; you can run your old-fashioned closed-source proprietary code on top of the GPL’ed VM/libraries, no fuss no muss no infection.

As for the rest, we’ll see. You’re entitled to think the TCK doesn’t add value, but you’re probably in a minority. I think we agree that there will be lots of interesting forks that don’t try to be Java.

As for your legal arguments, are you a lawyer? I’m not. I totally guarantee that we will be stiff-necked aggressive pricks in defense of the Java brand (trademark, logo, etc). If somebody wants to take your legal advice and try to skate around us with a “based on” ploy or some such, well, it’ll be over to the lawyers. We have good ones.


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