Is OpenJDK Open-By-Rule?

When I published my Open-By-Rule Benchmark earlier this week, I promised that I would test it against the new proposed governance for the OpenJDK community, a project started by Sun under my co-direction as a home for open source development of a...

Share

When I published my Open-By-Rule Benchmark earlier this week, I promised that I would test it against the new proposed governance for the OpenJDK community, a project started by Sun under my co-direction as a home for open source development of a GPL-licensed version of the Java platform.

For various reasons, the OpenJDK governance was never fully defined and the entire subject has been silent for over a year. However, Mark Reinhold (formerly of Sun and now chief Java architect at Oracle) published a draft governance yesterday, together with a list of Oracle and IBM's selections for the new Governance Board. As data points, it's worth noting that:
  • The vast majority of the work on OpenJDK is conducted by Oracle staff.
  • OpenJDK implements specifications devised at the JCP and does not invent features itself.
  • OpenJDK is licensed under GPLv2 plus several license exceptions (notably the Classpath exception) to prevent unintended consequences of using the GPL.
  • OpenJDK users are entitled to use the test suites (TCKs) and thus benefit from the Java brand under unique terms that apply only to OpenJDK. As far as I am aware only Red Hat has used this capability.
  • Significant contributions to the success of the project have come from Red Hat staff, right from the start of OpenJDK.
  • The individual contributors to the predecessor GNU Classpath project have also played a significant role in making OpenJDK a viable project, especially on GNU/Linux
  • Google has also been a significant contributor.
  • Much more recently, Apple has joined and contributed.
  • IBM is showing early signs of contribution.
  • It is widely assumed that IBM's decision to join OpenJDK and drop Apache Harmony was accompanied by a back-room deal with Oracle to get a preferential say in governance.
I plan to discuss the new governance on Saturday at FOSDEM, but as a preview I've posted a score card for the draft measured against the benchmark (over on my personal blog as this is rather specialised). On a scale of -10 to +10, the draft scores -3 and as such does not qualify as "open-by-rule" in my eyes. If you'd like to discuss this more, read the full score card on my blog and comment there, or meet me at the Free Java track at FOSDEM in Brussels this weekend.



Follow me as @webmink on Twitter and Identi.Ca



Find your next job with computerworld UK jobs