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From "Geir Magnusson Jr." <ge...@apache.org>
Subject Re: Some questions on the proposal
Date Mon, 09 May 2005 10:47:27 GMT

On May 8, 2005, at 7:03 PM, Sven de Marothy wrote:

> Hello all,
> I've contributed a line or two of code to Classpath, and so obviously
> I'm pretty interested in seeing a free implementation of Java, and I'm
> all for cooperation.


> But, I'm going to nasty and critical now and take a 'devil's advocate'
> view here, just to get things clear for myself..
> The "motivation" in the proposal lists Classpath, Kaffe, GCJ, etc and
> states:
> "All of these efforts provide a diversity of solutions, which is
> healthy, but barriers exist which prevent these efforts from  
> reaching a
> greater potential."
> Could you give some examples of barriers? In my experience our #1
> problem is that the implementation of the class libraries is  
> incomplete.

I think the biggest barriers are various licensing issues, the fact  
that there isn't a "full stack project", and completeness.

None of these are aspects that I consider any kind of  failing or  
criticism.  We've always had licensing differences and continue to  
work on the, we're happy to give the "full stack project" a try, and  
"incompleteness" is the normal state of affairs until "completion" is  
reached - any project is incomplete until it's done.  A project near  
and dear to my heart, Geronimo, is incomplete (as of now...)

> All these projects use the GNU Classpath set of class libraries, in
> harmony with the Classpath license (GPL+exception).
> How does starting a new project under a different and incompatible
> license (Goal #1 in the proposal) help?

We're starting a project to do a full tested, compatible  
implementation of J2SE (which will need a class library).  I don't  
know of any projects out there that are doing that.  Yes, we *write*  
software and license it with the Apache License, but we always like  
to *use* software from elsewhere that is under acceptable licenses  
because - well - we're lazy.

> Goal 2 in the proposal is to "create a community-developed modular
> runtime (VM and class library) architecture to allow independent
> implementations to share runtime components, and allow independent
> innovation in runtime components".
> GNU Classpath already has a stable and documented VM interface and is
> already being used by a number of independent runtimes of radically
> different types. I think there already is lots of independent
> innovation.

It was my understanding that there was room for further work here, as  
well as intra-library modularity.  VM modularity is going to be  
important too, and we probably have to consider the two subjects  

We're trying to get lots of people that have an interest and  
understanding in this issue to talk about it here.  I'm really  
interested in how the problems you've solved resonate with the  
problems others have, and if there is anything we can learn from each  

> So much for points a) and d). Then there's b):
> "a test suite for interoperability testing of the modules"
> Classpath already has testsuites; Mauve and Jacks.

IIRC, Mauve tests the Java API, and the test suite imagined above is  
to test the modular components - to see if implementations of modules  
support the interfaces they claim.  This isn't the Java API.  As you  
say, there is Mauve, and there's always the Sun TCK as well.  I'm  
fine with using Mauve (and contributing to Mauve) until TCK testing  

Remember, the goal of modularity is important, and we wanted to be  
sure that modules interoperable.  The only way (off the top of our  
heads) that we could be sure things would work is a test kit.

Does it have to be here at the ASF?  No - we're happy to use tools  
from elsewhere.  JUnit (for example) is very popular w/ ASF Java  
projects.  <plug_for_cedric>TestNG will probably be too someday</ 

> As for the IP issues raised; Classpath is clean-room.

Great.  Everything we do here must be clean room, and any  
dependencies we have on external software - and as we are  
fundamentally lazy people, we want to use things from elsewhere  
rather than re-write - would need to satisfy our usual requirements  
for distribution and licensing, and we'd probably add more  
inspection, such as clean-room-ness.  We feel responsible to our  
downstream users for what our distributions contain.

> So, in summary I'm wondering:
> 1) The proposal is proposing to do essentially the same work we've  
> done,
> only under the Apache v2 license. How is this supposed to solve our
> problems? Because Apache can do everything better? ;-)

No.  We don't do _everything_ better. ;)

We're going to need a class library to include with our full  
implementation, just like we'll need a VM.  So far, no decisions have  
been made on what to use and from where.

Remember, the goal is to create J2SE 5.  That isn't GNU Classpath's  
goal (nor Kaffe's, GCJs, etc...)

> 2) If not, and Harmony is to make use of Classpath, what's in it for
> Classpath?

I don't understand the question. What does GNU Classpath want in  
exchange for being used?  Nothing, I hope.

> The "Apache stamp of approval"? More developers? Something
> like 15 different VMs are already using GNU Classpath, is yours  
> going to
> make such a big difference?

There is no "Apache stamp of approval".  Apache makes no technical  
decisions.  Everything like that (modulo legal risk) is pushed down  
to the communities doing the work - the people that make the  
decisions are those working in the projects.  *We* (you, me, everyone  
else) make the technical decisions.

The only time Apache will step in is if there is a legal problem,  
such as questions about ownership of a piece of donated code or such...

> 3) What, exactly is wrong about the GNU Classpath license? The  
> proposal
> and several posts on this list don't seem to specifiy more than "Not
> Invented Here". GNU Classpath is being used by projects licensed under
> the GPL, LGPL, CPL the Intel Open Source License, etc.

I'm game - what *is* wrong with the GNU Classpath License? :)

I really don't want to debate licenses now.  I'd rather discuss  

The ASF has some rather clear rules about what we distribute.  We'll  
have to distribute whatever we choose as part of the full  
implementation.  This isn't like using glibc or something, where  
that's an implementation of a standard interface that you can expect  
to be found on the various target platforms.

There's lots of interesting discussion to be had here -  and we have  
to have it - but I don't want to declare defeat before we even get  

> So what's so special about Harmony that it needs a ASL class library?

It doesn't necessarily need a class library under the Apache License  
- just use a class library under a license that complies with our use  
and distribution requirements.

It's clear we're all not going to see eye-to-eye on license  
philosophy.  I'm hoping that we can find ways to work together where  
those differences don't get in the way of doing something productive.

> Geir, you do know Janteloven, don't you? ;-)
> (Reference for non-scandinavians:
> http://www.lysator.liu.se/nordic/scn/faq26.html )

I actually don't. :)  I am US-born, and was raised here in the US all  
my life. Thanks for the link... I'll read on the plane.

> Ok, and before someone flames me, again, that was all conciously
> provocative.

> I am not trying to sow any dischord here or be nasty to the
> ASF. I'm all for cooperation, I'm just trying to figure out where  
> people
> stand.

These are good questions, but they do presume a bit. I encourage you  
to keep going with this so we can learn more about each other.   
Thanks for spending the time on this.


> /Sven

Geir Magnusson Jr                                  +1-203-665-6437

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