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Re: Sun's JRL and source: taints or not?

From: Dalibor Topic
Subject: Re: Sun's JRL and source: taints or not?
Date: Thu, 05 May 2005 10:03:41 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.7.5) Gecko/20050105 Debian/1.7.5-1

David Holmes wrote:

Thanks for the very detailed response. You raise some very interesting
points. Sun seems to be pushing this "no taint" aspect of the JRL to
encourage more people to contribute to Mustang development:

Hi David,

thanks for your kind reply.

During my recent stay in Brasilia for the CafeBrasil conference, I had the chance to meet some Sun employees, among them Gosling, Phipps and a bunch of Sun evangelists whose names I unfortunately do not recall.

I recall that one of the evangelists asked me whether I heard about Project Peabody, which I confirmed. The Sun evangelists had some hard time understanding why someone would want to write their own freely useable, modifiable and distributable code instead of working on their non-free software. The idea of striving for better and free software, and radically writing it from scratch, if necessary, seemed not plausible for them.

Eventually, I had managed to explain how things work, to a certain degree, and the Peabody evangelist asked me whether GNU Classpath or Kaffe were competing with Sun's Peabody effort. And I think the answer is a clear "No":

a) GNU Classpath is already there

The project has been developing the core class libraries in an open, collaborative fashion since 1998. It has a huge, vibrant and growing community of developers, users, packagers, deployers, runtimes, and friends. It steadily attracted new, engaged contributors. It forms the backbone for some of the most innovative runtime projects in the bytecode platform space. And it keeps attracting new projects to join the the pool of those who use it, thanks to the well thought out design of things at the core level.

Beside having a growing pool of developers producing lots of good code rapidly, GNU Classpath has one major thing going for it: it is fun to work on, and the community is a friendly one to work with, without communication barriers, NDAs and similar problems.

b) GNU Classpath attracts a different group of people

In my experience, the people who care about both FOSS software, and the Java platform, will naturally strive to work together with the Free Software runtime community around GNU Classpath.

People that don't really care about Free Software, but care about commercial use of class library code and their liberty to do so as they need, will also quite naturally chose GNU Classpath as the project to contribute to.

People who care about publishing repeatable scientific research, will also continue chosing the projects that allow them to do so with the least amount of hassle, and the greatest amount of support.

Nevertheless, I believe Project Peabody has a great value for Sun in terms of generating some good PR for them.

There is also a non-obvious, probably unintended benefit for Free Software runtime projects: a fraction of proprietary software developers, seem to be currently afraid of the prospect of compatible, Free Software runtimes becoming prevalent and marginalizing their investement in Sun's implementation. Project Peabody gives those developers an outlet to deal with their insecurity in a creative way, by fixing compiler warnings in Sun's implementation, for example.

"And for developers that ask, "Does looking at source code under the JRL
taint me?", the answer is "No!" See the JRL FAQ #18 for more details."

Of course that author may be relying on the FAQ being correct.

Probably, yeah. I didn't have an opportunity to talk with Graham Hamilton yet, and he does not seem to be the talkative type in general, judging by his sparingly seeded comments on blogs.

As far as I can tell by his excited comments on the "Read-only" TCK license [1], or the somewhat bizarre 'army of lawyers' defense of the SCSL[2], his job does not involve critically dissecting non-free software licenses for legal minefields, and practical deployment and development problems.

Given that he has his own army of lawyers, though, that may not be necessary for him anyway. :)

dalibor topic


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