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Free As In Lawsuit

39 replies on 3 pages. Most recent reply: Sep 30, 2010 5:32 PM by Standard IO

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Bruce Eckel

Posts: 874
Nickname: beckel
Registered: Jun, 2003

Free As In Lawsuit (View in Weblogs)
Posted: Aug 16, 2010 3:33 PM
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Summary
It's been taking forever to open-source Java. Oracle's lawsuit with Google makes me wonder if it's ever going to happen.
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From CNET, Oracle has "filed suit against Google for infringing on copyrights and patents related to Java ..." If Oracle thinks it can get a bunch of money from Google the way Sun did from Microsoft (a billion or two, if memory serves, making it the most money Java ever made for Sun), what incentive does it have to continue the open-sourcing process? Wouldn't it, in fact, destroy the lawsuit if Java gets open-sourced?

A Redmonk Article says "A Java ecosystem dominated by Oracle is a doomed ecosystem" and "This suit is going to negatively impact – probably substantially – Java adoption." In an excellent in-depth analysis, Charles Nutter concludes that "... the real damage will be in how the developer community perceives Java ..." Nutter also points out that Android is "... a subset of a Java-like platform that doesn't actually run Java bytecode and doesn't use any code from OpenJDK." Groklaw has a no-holds barred analysis of the mess.

Now, if you are choosing a programing language, aren't you more likely to consider something truly unencumbered like Ruby or Python -- where something like this just wouldn't happen -- than you are Java? Joel West points out a problem that Sun always had -- that of semi-openness -- which now comes back to bite those that trusted it.

But the worst outcome for Oracle is already certain; here they follow in Microsoft's footsteps. Microsoft has become a place shunned by innovative software developers, partly because of their anti-open-source approach, and partly because management infighting prevents interesting things from getting done (what fun it must have been to be on the Kin team, for example). Oracle makes it clear where they stand, and they will find themselves wondering why "you just can't find good programmers anymore." It's because Oracle is not even on their radar. Unfortunately, this is one of those "furniture police" moments: by cramming the furniture closer together, the spreadsheet shows money being saved, and since we can't measure the impact on morale and potential employees (those can't be fit into spreadsheet cells), we just ignore those factors. The maxim of scientific management is, after all, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."


Dmitry Cheryasov

Posts: 16
Nickname: dch
Registered: Apr, 2007

Re: Free As In Lawsuit Posted: Aug 17, 2010 10:43 AM
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To tell the truth, MS Research does a lot of great innovative things, in C# and F# in particular. Now that Java's future is somehow more doubted, more people will turn to MS's offerings.

Also, Android's Dalvik uses class files and seemingly does not severely depend on what produced these classes. That is, Java may be phased out should there be need, in favour of Scala, or Groovy, or whatever other sensible JVM-based language.

Daniel Serodio

Posts: 13
Nickname: dserodio
Registered: Apr, 2006

Re: Free As In Lawsuit Posted: Aug 17, 2010 10:57 AM
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I guess the GNU people were right about the "Java Trap" after all...

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/java-trap.html

Otengi Miloskov

Posts: 2
Nickname: otengi128
Registered: Aug, 2010

Re: Free As In Lawsuit Posted: Aug 18, 2010 1:00 AM
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Yes, after all Java is a trap and it so disappointed what Oracle is doing with the open source projects as MySQL, OpenSolaris, Java and the Java community. Oracle said they will fix the JCP and everybody was thinking Oracle also will workout the dispute over Apache Harmony and now see what a mess is all this.

For me Java is dead, I'll go back to C++ and continue with Python.

Kay Schluehr

Posts: 302
Nickname: schluehk
Registered: Jan, 2005

Re: Free As In Lawsuit Posted: Aug 18, 2010 1:19 AM
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> To tell the truth, MS Research does a lot of great
> innovative things, in C# and F# in particular.

Same thoughts here. Microsoft built up a huge research department, whereas Oracle bought one with Sun and doesn't know what to make of it other than squeezing it out for a few past merits which can be used to attack a company which isn't even a competitor in Oracles core business.

> Now that
> Java's future is somehow more doubted, more people will
> turn to MS's offerings.

I doubt that, although it was suggested by some in a knee-jerk reaction. Google will certainly push LLVM, just like Apple and others.

robert young

Posts: 361
Nickname: funbunny
Registered: Sep, 2003

Re: Free As In Lawsuit Posted: Aug 18, 2010 10:43 AM
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> whereas Oracle bought one with Sun and doesn't
> know what to make of it other than squeezing it out for a
> few past merits which can be used to attack a company
> which isn't even a competitor in Oracles core business.

Well, I haven't kept the links, and some of this is mine alone, but consider:

- java *is* Oracle's core, even before the buyout (more later)

- java ME is a bust, but Dalvik is a winner. If you're Oracle why not try to get some of that pie? They'll waste a lot of time and money if Google doesn't settle "Real Soon Now", which I don't they will.

- to the extent that cloud, SaaS, PaaS, WhateveraaS gains mindshare, Oracle either needs to quash it or get a wagon for the wagon train. This attack could accomplish either; Dalvik is made to go away, or Oracle gets it through a free cross-license. I mean, why not run Oracle Financials on a big Droid? Why not? It's not much different, semantically, from OF/*nix/VT-220, just with pixels. Folks run around warehouses today with tablets and WiFi, why not go all the way?

- there was a time when COBOL was the language of the corporation (still is in some parts of some corporations), and there was/is an ANSI standard COBOL, but no one bothered much with it (in the corporation). IBM had its own version, and that runs on its mainframes/minis. Oracle has made java the language of its corporate applications. It might be, they think, a Good Thing if there's Oracle java and some ANSI-java that no one cares about. IBM, unlike M$, forked java in a compliant way, too. If one believes, as I do, that part of the game plan in taking Sun was to build a platform to attack the IBM mainframe business (the last existing fruit on the tree), then having a market dividing stack of Oracle database/java/Sun machines makes some sense; a way to lock-in clients top to bottom.

Otengi Miloskov

Posts: 2
Nickname: otengi128
Registered: Aug, 2010

Re: Free As In Lawsuit Posted: Aug 18, 2010 12:11 PM
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This is to optimistic. Lets go back to history, Oracle is an aggressive comercial company same as Microsoft that they just care about "Profit" thats all.

Do you remember what happend to VB6?, Dissapeared, Microsoft didnt give a damn to VB6 and VB6 community of programmers, They just killed VB6 and move on to the next cash cow. Well Oracle could do the same or anything with Java, They could kill tomorrow Java cause Java does not give a stable profit and move on to the next cash cow could be MySQL or buy a new startup.

Yes Oracle is invested heavily inside in Java but as I said they can close it and just use it inhouse as SAP use abap just for them and their paid customers for the platform.

Java as we know it, Java the open source platform and an alternative to the evil dotNet is OVER.

Of course we can continue to work in Java and create new projects but for new projects or open source ones is a huge risk. If you already have a big system for a fortune 500 dont worry your company have enough cash to continue using Java and pay lots of cash to Oracle. But for medium size to small business this is so risky and for them Java is dead.

Max Lybbert

Posts: 314
Nickname: mlybbert
Registered: Apr, 2005

Re: Free As In Lawsuit Posted: Aug 18, 2010 12:46 PM
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> This attack could accomplish either; Dalvik is made to go away, or Oracle gets it through a free cross-license.

Dalvik is open source under Apache 2. I can't imagine what Oracle would get from a separate license that they wouldn't get from Apache 2.

I'm interested in where this will go. Google will countersue, try to invalidate the patents, try to work around the patents, and as a last resort pay money to Oracle. I'm curious to see which of those strategies work.

Personally, if I were using MySQL and especially if I were working on a MySQL storage engine, I would take this as a very clear, very loud statement that Oracle is not a good open source partner and I would jump ship to PostgreSQL or something else. Yes, I know that MySQL isn't currently encumbered by patents the same way Java is; but I also know that Oracle's management doesn't understand open source even though Oracle has several open source projects ( http://oss.oracle.com/ ) and Sun had several more ( http://www.sunsource.net/projects ).

And I believe Eckel is correct that Oracle will have trouble getting top quality developers from now on. They'll get good developers but not the best ones out there.

robert young

Posts: 361
Nickname: funbunny
Registered: Sep, 2003

Re: Free As In Lawsuit Posted: Aug 18, 2010 12:49 PM
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> > This attack could accomplish either; Dalvik is made to
> go away, or Oracle gets it through a free cross-license.
>
> Dalvik is open source under Apache 2. I can't imagine
> what Oracle would get from a separate license that they
> wouldn't get from Apache 2.

Oracle's suit is that Dalvik is illegal, thus its license is irrelevant if Oracle wins or Google settles.

>
> I'm interested in where this will go. Google will
> countersue, try to invalidate the patents, try to work
> around the patents, and as a last resort pay money to
> Oracle. I'm curious to see which of those strategies
> work.
>
> Personally, if I were using MySQL and especially if I were
> working on a MySQL storage engine, I would take this as a
> very clear, very loud statement that Oracle is not a good
> open source partner and I would jump ship to PostgreSQL or
> something else. Yes, I know that MySQL isn't currently
> encumbered by patents the same way Java is; but I also
> know that Oracle's management doesn't understand open
> source even though Oracle has several open source projects
> ( http://oss.oracle.com/ ) and Sun had several more (
> http://www.sunsource.net/projects ).
>
> And I believe Eckel is correct that Oracle will have
> trouble getting top quality developers from now on.

Folklore is, they never have. Just look at the covers of the O'Reilly books.

> They'll get good developers but not the best ones out
> t there.

Max Lybbert

Posts: 314
Nickname: mlybbert
Registered: Apr, 2005

Re: Free As In Lawsuit Posted: Aug 19, 2010 5:05 AM
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[Robert]: This attack could accomplish either; Dalvik is made to go away, or Oracle gets it through a free cross-license.

[Me]: Dalvik is open source under Apache 2. I can't imagine what Oracle would get from a separate license that they wouldn't get from Apache 2.

[Robert]: Oracle's suit is that Dalvik is illegal, thus its license is irrelevant if Oracle wins or Google settles.

Just to see if I understand correctly: one day Oracle's top dogs said "we needs to gets us some Dalvik, which is released under Apache 2, but instead of using it under Apache 2 we're going to file a lawsuit"? Sorry, I just don't see it.

To be honest, I don't see Oracle getting much out of stopping Android/Dalvik in its tracks either. From Oracle's point of view, I think their best outcome is a big payment from Google, either for a license from Oracle to Google or for the sale of Java.

From Google's point of view, their best outcome is that the patents in question are invalidated (allowing third party mobile phone vendors to continue to develop on Android without fear that Oracle will sue them); their second-best outcome is to design around the patents; and their third best outcome is paying Oracle money -- either to license the patents in question for Google and all third parties, or to buy Java. I suspect the outcome will be closer to what Google wants than what Oracle wants (some of the patents have prior art and I suspect they'll be invalidated, other patents will need to be designed around).

Randy Hobart

Posts: 3
Nickname: nugget00
Registered: Oct, 2009

Re: Free As In Lawsuit Posted: Aug 19, 2010 9:37 AM
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I agree with your summary. You are absolutely right.
If starting a new project, or re-writing an existing one - why not use python or ruby when possible. I have been a fan of java since the beginning and am really disappointed at this. I am already thinking of abandoning NetBeans. I have read previous articles that you have written concerning java, and now am convinced you have been right all along. Java has not lived up to its promise. This is why Google did not use Suns java ME - it was too SLOW, and did not have all the (UI) features that a mobile device needs.
When it comes to efficiency on a small mobile device - perhaps C or C++ would not be such a bad idea after all. And for mobile web apps, perhaps HTML 5 is the answer, using C, C++ for the UI.

robert young

Posts: 361
Nickname: funbunny
Registered: Sep, 2003

Re: Free As In Lawsuit Posted: Aug 19, 2010 11:51 AM
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> [Robert]: This attack could accomplish either; Dalvik is
> made to go away, or Oracle gets it through a free
> cross-license.
>
> [Me]: Dalvik is open source under Apache 2. I can't
> imagine what Oracle would get from a separate license that
> they wouldn't get from Apache 2.
>
> [Robert]: Oracle's suit is that Dalvik is illegal, thus
> its license is irrelevant if Oracle wins or Google
> settles.
>
> Just to see if I understand correctly: one day Oracle's
> top dogs said "we needs to gets us some Dalvik, which is
> released under Apache 2, but instead of using it under
> Apache 2 we're going to file a lawsuit"? Sorry, I just
> don't see it.

They said, "let's get this Dalvik *for ourselves* so we can make folks pay for it (even folks are only Google); it's built on our patents and copyrights; it's OURS, not Google's". Oracle contends that Dalvik is an illegal piece of software, fouling both patents and copyrights owned by Oracle/Sun. Oracle contends that Dalvik *cannot be* open source, since it fouls those *owned* things. From some history being resurrected these days, Sun thought so too; just never filed suit.

>
> To be honest, I don't see Oracle getting much out of
> stopping Android/Dalvik in its tracks either. From
> Oracle's point of view, I think their best outcome is a
> big payment from Google, either for a license from Oracle
> to Google or for the sale of Java.

Which could happen, but Google will have to admit that Oracle's patents and copyrights were violated. Whether Oracle then insists on ownership of Dalvik is an issue. The likelihood of Oracle selling java is 0. When this takeover was first reported, the sticking point was java; only later did the sticking point become MySql. Folks got flummoxed by Oracle over Oracle's insistence that it was going to be a *better* steward than Sun had been. Stallman, in particular, has been saying for years that java wasn't open source, only sorta kinda "free". Turns out he was exactly right. Oracle won't sell java just because java has become the application language of all things Oracle; they want that control.

IBM built a compliant java variant by creating their stuff in separate named packages, unlike M$, which simply modified code in the Sun packages. That's why M$ got hosed; Sun always said you could fork java, if you dared, but only if your forked classes were segregated, and you had to pay some money and time to be "certified compliant". IBM, being big enough, decided it was worth it; Apache with Harmony has had a more difficult time of it. They did the same thing to COBOL decades ago, so they have some history with forking "standardized" languages.

>
> From Google's point of view, their best outcome is that
> the patents in question are invalidated (allowing third
> party mobile phone vendors to continue to develop on
> Android without fear that Oracle will sue them);

And I expect that will happen, but it will take some time. If Oracle can get an injunction, then the situation changes. Their suit says to "impound and destroy" the offending software.

> their
> second-best outcome is to design around the patents;

True, but that won't free them from prior use penalties.

> and
> their third best outcome is paying Oracle money -- either
> to license the patents in question for Google and all
> third parties, or to buy Java. I suspect the outcome will
> be closer to what Google wants than what Oracle wants
> (some of the patents have prior art and I suspect they'll
> be invalidated, other patents will need to be designed
> around).

John Zabroski

Posts: 272
Nickname: zbo
Registered: Jan, 2007

Re: Free As In Lawsuit Posted: Aug 19, 2010 7:01 PM
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> Do you remember what happend to VB6?, Dissapeared,
> Microsoft didnt give a damn to VB6 and VB6 community of
> programmers, They just killed VB6 and move on to the next
> cash cow.

Last month I had to port a VB6 legacy app to VB.NET to solve a DLL Hell problem using Windows XP SP2's Registration-free COM support.

Converting that VB6 code to VB.NET was dead simple, thanks to Microsoft's VB6 to VB.NET Upgrtade Wizard. As I recall, MS shipped this tool as part of VB.NET 2005.

It would be exceedingly dumb for MSFT not to provide backwards compatibility to VB6. Now, if you substitute "Foxpro" for "VB6", then you have a valid argument, but from the very beginning it was clear MS had no intention of keeping Foxpro around and it was an EEE move.

robert young

Posts: 361
Nickname: funbunny
Registered: Sep, 2003

Re: Free As In Lawsuit Posted: Aug 19, 2010 7:31 PM
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> Yes Oracle is invested heavily inside in Java but as I
> said they can close it and just use it inhouse as SAP use
> abap just for them and their paid customers for the
> platform.
>
> Java as we know it, Java the open source platform and an
> alternative to the evil dotNet is OVER.
>

ABAP is a 4GL suited to SAP's notion of "relational database", it is not a general purpose language, and was built by SAP for SAP from the beginning. It bears no similarity to java.

java has never been "open source", only fee free. As many of those in the open source community have warned, not the same same.

Cameron Purdy

Posts: 186
Nickname: cpurdy
Registered: Dec, 2004

Re: Free As In Lawsuit Posted: Aug 19, 2010 10:22 PM
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> java has never been "open source", only fee free.

These arguments sound like a WWF advertisement.

Java has arguably been open source since day one. I downloaded and read all of the source for JDK 1.0.2 beta back in '96. (Not "free as in GPL software", but open source.)

The specifications were available from day one. The source code for the libraries was too. Within a few years, the source for the Sun JVM was available.

Regarding "free as in ...", OpenJDK has been available for years. Free as in GPL. According to Wikipedia: "OpenJDK (aka Open Java Development Kit) is a Free and open source implementation of the Java programming language."

Despite manipulation by the PR of hundred+ billion dollar corporations, we should at least agree to stick to the facts.

Peace,

Cameron Purdy | Oracle Coherence
http://coherence.oracle.com/

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