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From "Geir Magnusson Jr." <>
Subject FAQ for Apache Harmony
Date Fri, 06 May 2005 22:53:42 GMT

FAQ : Frequently Asked Questions

0) How do I subscribe to the mail list?

You can subscribe by sending an email to

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After that, you can post to the dev list

1) Why are you doing this?

We believe that there is broad community interest in coming together  
to create and use an open source, compatible implementation of J2SE  
5, the latest version of the Java 2 Standard Edition specification.

2) What version of Java will you be implementing?

J2SE 5 aka Java 5 aka Tiger

3) Why haven't you done this before?

While the Java Community Process has allowed open source  
implementations of JSRs for a few years now, Java 5 is the first of  
the J2SE specs that we are able to do due to licensing reasons.

4) Are you doing this to attack Sun?

No, of course we aren't. Apache doesn't support projects that attack  
any entity, corporate or otherwise.

Sun has been a long-time supporter of Apache and Apache projects, and  
Apache has a wide variety of projects that are implementations of  
Java specifications, such as Apache Geronimo, Apache Tomcat, Pluto,  
taglibs, etc.

This project is open to every interested member of the Java  
community, and every interested member is welcome to participate in  
whatever manner they choose.

5) Are you doing this because Sun refuses to release their source for  
J2SE under an open source license?

Not really.  We would welcome Sun doing that (as well as anyone else  
w/ a J2SE implementation!) as it would save us a lot of time, and we  
wholeheartedly encourage them to do so ;)  but Sun has the right to  
do what it chooses with it's intellectual property.

6) Will your implementation be compatible with the specification?


7) How will you know?

We are going to test it with the TCK from Sun.

8) How will you license the TCK from Sun.  Isn't it expensive?

Sun offers scholarships to qualified non-profits, academics and  
individuals.  Apache is a qualified non-profit, and has benefitted  
from this scholarship before, with the J2EE 1.4 TCK license and  
support for the Apache Geronimo project, among others.

We will apply for the scholarship, and hope that Sun will grant us  
the license and support needed for us to do a good job.

9) How long will it take?

It will be done when it's done :)  This will take a long time, but we  
hope that contributions from around the community will help us along  
the way.

10) Do you have any code to start?

No, we don't.  We didn't want to "bless" any given implementation  
that might be donated (if such a thing could happen) but would rather  
let the community decide how it will create and develop the platform.

11) Will you accept SWT if IBM offers it?

Apache is always grateful for contributions from wherever they come,  
and IBM has a record of contributions to open source,  but it would  
up to the project community to decide whether any particular  
contribution was used in the project.

12) Why are you going to have an architecture thread?

We wanted a way that we could bring together people from all over the  
Java community, even other open-source projects that are related.  We  
welcome everyone to the discussion, no matter what license they  
choose to implement under, be it a free software license, an open  
source license or a proprietary license.  We are here to open  
discussion and learning, and to design a great architecture for J2SE  

At Apache, we think that a strong, diverse, meritocratic community is  
what makes a good open source project, and we want to be sure that  
everyone can participate in some way.

13) Does this compete with Kaffe and Classpath?

People from Kaffe and Classpath are helping start this project!   
Their experience in the open source VM and class library is  
invaluable, and they bring problems that the larger architecture  
community discussion can help solve.

We will have an implementation under the Apache License, but we think  
of this as complementary rather than competitive.  And when we solve  
a few small license interoperability issues, we expect we'll be able  
to complement each other even more.

14) How will you ensure that the intellectual property of Sun and  
others is respected?

Good question - this is a very important issue for us.  There are  
several ways, but this will be a topic for the community to work on  
at the beginning.  So far we've thought of :

a) We shall ask any person that would be a committer to declare what  
kind of non-open-source class library or VM source code they have  
been exposed to, and allow us to keep them from participating in the  
related parts of the codebase where they may inadvertently violate  
the IP rights of someone else.

b) We shall require that any code contribution that isn't a new,  
original work of authorship created expressly for the Apache Harmony  
project be subject to the standard Apache process for provenance and  
licensing to ensure that we have an accurate record of every  
contribution that wasn't created expressly inside the Apache Harmony  

c) We would like to perform continuous "surveillance" on the codebase  
we are building, and compare to class library and VMs from elsewhere,  
like Sun, IBM, BEA, Kaffe, etc to ensure that no code from those  
efforts become part of Apache Harmony without our knowledge.  We do  
this to protect ourselves, our users, and of course those other  
efforts.  We don't know yet how to do this, but are exploring ideas  
such as having a third party such as Black Duck or an existing  
licensee (or Sun!) do this for us.  This, like all the topics herein,  
are open for discussion an change by the community.

d) Anything anyone can think of!

15) Won't this lead to fragmentation in the Java community?

We don't think so.  Our intent is to bring people together, let us  
share what we know, solve common problems, and collaborate on things  
where we can.  A diverse Java community is a healthy Java community.   
Multiple implementations of the Java specifications show the value of  
Java - that we do have a specification, that anyone is free to make a  
compatible implementation, and that users of Java have the  
opportunity to run their Java code in more places, on more  
platforms.  This is the central promise of Java, and we think that  
our efforts support this.

16) How can I get involved and help influence and shape this  
proposal? Or is it too late?

Join the community and participate!  It's never too late!   We're  
just getting started, and everything is open to discussion - the  
community will change what the community wants to change.   What we  
do in this project is decided by those participating in the project.   
This is the Apache Software Foundation - collaborative, meritocratic,  
and community-based.

Geir Magnusson Jr                                  +1-203-665-6437

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