Apache to Create Open Source Java

In the absence of an offering from Sun, the Apache Foundation will begin a project to create open source Java for desktop computers called "Project Harmony." Citing broad community interest, the project will create a version of the Java 2, Standard Edition (J2SE) runtime platform that is compatible with Sun's Java.

The project is possible because Sun changed the licensing rules for J2SE 5.0 and liberalized the Java Community Process.

Project leads stressed that the project is not poised to compete with Sun, which has opposed efforts to open source Java due to legal considerations. Project Harmony will be compatible with Sun's standard specifications and compatibility will be ensured by licensing and testing with Sun's TCK, which is available free of cost to non-profits.

Apache's efforts will be monitored by a code auditing process that will make certain that legal problems do not occur. Developers from Kaffe and Classpath, makers of open source virtual machines, will contribute to Harmony.

Commenting on the project, Graham Hamilton, a Sun vice president, wrote in his Web blog, that "Apache have always been a strong supporter of the Java compatibility program and I'm glad to see that they are emphasizing that commitment to compatibility as part of the Harmony project. Compatibility is one of the bedrock values of the Java community."

"The licensing rules for J2SE 5.0 were carefully designed to allow independent, compatible open-source implementations of the J2SE specification," added Hamilton. "Personally, I am not entirely sure if the world really needs a second J2SE implementation, but at the same time I am also glad to see that all the effort we put into getting the rules and the licensing issues straightened out is actually proving useful!"

Sun has said that it will participate in the project in some way. The Apache Foundation welcomes the involvement of any interested parties and has encouraged dialog within the Java community.

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