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3/5/2009
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Apache Just Says No To Java EE 6

Apache and Sun go at it again over licensing of the Java Compatibility Kit.

While Java Enterprise Edition 6 made it though the public review of the Java Community Process, it didn't do so unscathed.

In results just made available from last month's public review ballot, it was revealed the Apache Software Foundation voted thumbs down on Java EE 6. The dissenting vote opens old wounds caused by the bitter battle between the Apache Foundation and Sun over the licensing terms for the Java Compatibility Kit (JCK).

Specifically, Apache believes Sun breached the terms of the JCP's Java Specification Participation Agreement (JSPA), because of the terms involving the licensing of the JCKs that could limit the acceptance of Java.

The license under which JCK is currently available dictates that the OpenJDK, GPL-licensed Java Virtual Machines can use the JCK free of charge. Commercial developers however, still have to pay for the right to use the JCK license.

The rub for Apache, however, is it doesn't use the GPL for Apache Harmony, which is the project responsible for creating an Apache licensed Java implementation.

Sun has extended an olive branch by offering a JCK license to Apache developers. Unfortunately, the license also includes certain limitations including not allowing the JCK to test a Java implementation.

Comments by the foundation on the on the "no" stated: "This is not a statement about the technical merit or quality of work done by the Expert Group to date ... if it were not for the unresolved non-compliance by Sun, Apache would most likely vote yes."

It wasn't just the Apache Foundation that expressed some reservations. While Intel voted yes, it did lend support to the foundation's call for the removal of restrictions of field "use." It made mention that as Java EE requires Java SE, the resulting restrictions on Java SE could restrict Java EE. Red Hat, which also voted yes, called for a clearly stated rule forbidding field-of-use restrictions

What makes Java EE 6.0 strategically important to the market is that several heavyweights plan to base core server-based products on it, including IBM and Oracle. Development organizations like Eclipse also rely heavily on Java EE


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