Sun JDK vs OpenJDK - Sun JRE vs OpenJDK JRE

Mark Wielaard mark at
Sat Sep 13 20:32:46 UTC 2008

Hi Geir,

On Sat, 2008-09-13 at 15:20 -0400, Geir Magnusson Jr. wrote:
> So let me see if I have this right.  you took the java 6 codebase, and  
> put the VM out under GPL and the libraries out under GPL+Classpath.   
> You seem to have shoved one version (which I'll call "JDK Next" since  
> I don't really want to dignify the unitary decision to call it "JDK 7"  
> since there is no JSR for Java 7) into hg, and another (version 6) you  
> keep behind closed doors, emitting bundles of source every now and  
> then.    Then, is there also another  complete tree for java 6 for the  
> sun product release of j6?
> This seems nutty, companies, processes, accountability and "all that  
> interesting stuff" notwithstanding.

Although I am sure some of the things being done are nutty (we all have
our weird habits and we are all human after all) it seems you have
indeed not been following the developments very well.

What Sun has liberated is their jdk7 (Java the Next Generation) code
base, or at least those parts they could. Then they realised that it
would also be fun to have a fully free GPLed JDK6 implementation, so
they did what Joe called "Forward to the Past", removing anything that
wasn't in the JDK6 spec, but that was already in the JDK7:

Joe has been working really hard on this all, and through IcedTea we
have helped out by trying out various alternatives to some of the still
encumbered code to make this happen. Some of those alternatives have now
made it into Joe's tree. For some reason Joe hasn't yet found the time
to put this all into a mercurial repository (remember when he started
JDK7 wasn't in mercurial also). That does indeed seem like a painful way
to work, but in the end there is only so much time in a day. In IcedTea
we do put all our work directly into a mercurial repository. I do think
that makes working together much more easier. We will get there with
openjdk6 also I hope when Joe finds the time.

Now Sun also has an old code base for JDK6, which is still completely
proprietary and which they are still maintaining, it only partly shares
code with the new OpenJDK work. So porting patches between the two isn't
as easy since the code bases don't match up and that old code base isn't
entirely encumbrance free. It does seem very painful to work in that
way. And maybe you are right that Sun is making the wrong business
decisions to keep that old legacy code base around in this form. It
certainly isn't a very interesting code base for the community at large
and you won't see a free GNU/Linux distro ship it.

Sun isn't alone in all this though. And they sure do not do everything
perfect yet. And yes, they sometimes do silly, weird things, apparently
completely missing the whole opportunity they have. But what we do as
community is help and guide Sun to do the right thing. If that means to
ignore any silly proprietary stuff and as a community provide free
alternatives to show how it is really done, then so be it. That is
precisely what we do through IcedTea, integrate and provide Free
Software alternatives for those parts where we think Sun is still
missing the point. Together we will make this work.



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