OpenJDK JRE & Embedded Devices

Stephen Colebourne scolebourne at
Tue Feb 1 13:33:38 UTC 2011

On 1 February 2011 11:30, Andrew Haley <aph at> wrote:
> All of us on this list believe that OpenJDK is free software, and you
> have the freedom to:
>    * run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
>    * study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish
> (freedom 1).
>    * redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
>    * distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3).

"All of us on this list believe that OpenJDK is free software". No,
I'm afraid I unconvinced that Oracle's lawyers/managers necessarily
agree, at least in the way that the point was phrased above:
- Considerable efforts have been undertaken to prevent an open source
implementation of Java SE from running on embedded devices
- There is an active legal case (vs Google).
- There are active and known patents claimed (see Google case).
- Oracle doesn't necessarily respect legal & social agreements,
notably when the other party is a not-for-profit (Harmony/JSPA)
- GPLv2 does not sufficiently talk about patents or other IP to
guarantee safety.
- The strength of the GPLv2 has yet to be fully tested in court IMO.
- My attempts in other places to determine whether a fork of OpenJDK
(friendly or hostile) would be attacked by Oracle legal have been met
with a determined "no comment".

Some consider the above to be FUD, I consider it to be healthy
scepticism based on how the Oracle is running the ecosystem. YMMV.

> Do I have to say it again?  Read the licence.

And when you do, try to read it from Oracle's perspective in terms of
how they might find a loophole or other mechanism to block what you
are doing. If you can satisfy yourself that there is none whatsoever,
then by all means continue.


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