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From "Stuart Ballard" <stuart.a.ball...@gmail.com>
Subject Re: [Fwd: Re: Interesting discoveries playing around with japitools]
Date Thu, 09 Nov 2006 16:27:57 GMT
Geir Magnusson Jr. wrote:
> David Gilbert wrote:
> > A boon?  Not at all, Classpath will be (mostly) redundant and will fade
> > away, replaced by Sun's runtime.
> I'm not so convinced of that.  GNU Classpath is under GPL + Exception,
> so arguably it's not viral to things that link with it.

I think it's highly unlikely Sun will release their VM without terms
that enable proprietary code to be built on top of it. That'd be
particularly counterproductive of them.

My speculation would be that they'll release it under two licenses,
one similar to the terms they have now, and the GPL as the other. Code
released under those terms is clearly not viral.

> Also, I think the copyright assignment requirement will be a big deal.

If OpenOffice is anything to go by, Sun will require a copyright
assignment to them; Classpath requires a copyright assignment to the
FSF. Yes, that's a little bit different because a lot of developers
will trust the FSF a lot more than they do Sun...

I actually think it'd be really smart of Sun to not require a
copyright assignment at all, but rather require contributing
developers to license their code under *both* sets of terms just as
Sun itself does. That would allow Sun to continue to use the dual
licensing scheme without the stigma of the copyright assignment
requirement. And it's very similar (in spirit, if not in details) to
the model that Mozilla has used for years - originally to allow
Netscape to make proprietary releases based on the contributed code.

As far as the suggestion elsewhere in the thread (that I lost, digest
mode subscription is painful ;) ) that the GNU people would feel it
necessary to fork Sun's Java entirely to maintain their sense of
freedom, I don't think this is so. The FSF have fairly strong
philosophical disagreements with Linus but have never forked the
kernel. They have philosophical disagreements with the ASF sometimes
but there isn't a GNU fork of the Apache webserver. I think a GPL'd
Java would be considered acceptable - because the license allows the
*option* of a fork if Sun proves to be a sufficiently poor steward.
But I've never heard of a project being "preemptively" forked on the
offchance the maintainer will make unacceptable decisions in the
future. At least I've never heard of such a fork having even the
slightest success.

A lot depends, of course, on how Sun actually engages the community -
I'd say that's even more important than the license, as long as the
license isn't *completely* un-work-withable.

> Understood.  For me, an additional requirement is an open and level
> community, where all participants are working together under exactly the
> same terms. (Which is where GNU Classpath will be different than what I
> understand the Sun model will be)

I don't consider it a foregone conclusion either way as to whether
Classpath will or won't continue with any enthusiasm if Sun's
implementation is released under an acceptable license and with an
acceptable process for getting contributions back in. There's a lot of
momentum behind Classpath right now but it might be hard to justify
all the effort to get from (essentially) complete 1.4 and parts of
1.5, to parity with Sun's 6.

Either way we live in interesting times :) And either way Sun's
release under *any* open source license is a very good thing.


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