OpenJDK Governing Board Minutes: 20011/4/21

Mark Wielaard mark at
Mon May 9 10:11:34 UTC 2011

On Sun, 2011-05-08 at 18:17 -0400, Mike Milinkovich wrote:
> My humble apologies for causing offense. However, my definition of an
> "honest discussion" is one where there is a chance that there can be
> movement or compromise on the issue at hand. In this case, since I do
> not believe that there is any hope of that happening, I think it is
> more honest to be clear. I'm sorry that you find what is meant as
> candour to be offensive.

To be candid in reply, if you really believe that no discussion can take
place on the core principles of what it means to be a member of this
project, then I think you are just making a mockery of the whole idea of
project participation and governance. Sure you can set this up as to be
a Oracle/IBM duo-poly, which is governed by some cross-company
agreements that don't hold for any other participant and where some
stuff gets thrown around for those who like to do their own thing
(somewhere else), but I hope that isn't the goal.

> I appreciate that I am an outsider to the OpenJDK community. However,
> I am pretty involved in the broader world of Java. I believe that I
> was invited to be on the GB because I have some very specific
> experience in constructing vendor-neutral governance. I am confident
> that I've had a positive and constructive influence on many of
> directions that has been taken. 

And I am sure you do the best you can given you are being invited to
give input and the current makeup of the board. But my point was not
that your input is wrong (it isn't). It was that the makeup of the board
is totally out of whack if you care about anybodies motivations to join
OpenJDK except for Oracle's and IBM's, who dominate the board. Of course
your input and the input and motivations of those particular vendors is
important. But if this project wants to be effective we have to figure
out a way to protect and encourage the input and motivations of others.
I am just saying the current setup has obvious blind-spots.

> For the rest of your email, I obviously cannot speak for Oracle.

I was not asking you to. I wanted to point out some (perceived) pain
points, that I feel are caused by neglecting to protect the motivations
of others contributing to the project. Please study that list of
examples and try to figure out how these things can be done smoother.
And how the participation agreement, bylaws and governance board can
help with that.

>  However, it is my strong belief that there are contractual
> obligations which require them to aggregate the IP.

It is my strong belief that the current OCA is overreaching and goes way
beyond any contractual obligations Oracle might have. But that is just
our believes. Lets find out. And then decide how fair the current setup
is to all participants. And how to fix it.

> At the heart of this issue is the balancing act between the free
> community and the pre-existing commercial ecosystem. The set of
> constraints to be solved are extremely complex and compromises are an
> inevitable result.

You also seem to forget about the pre-existing free software ecosystem.
For many this project is the cumulation and reward of 15 years of hard
work to liberate Java. We have won, that is great. But do we want this
to be the end of the road? Should those that care about moving libre
java forward now retreat again and do all their innovation separate in
IcedTea, IcedRobot, just take the GPLed code and not contribute back?
That would be a mistake IMHO. The motivation of a lot of people in the
free community is to come together and provide all end users one common
set of core java implementations that they can freely rely on. This is
why GNU Classpath was a series of mergers of existing projects. It would
be ironic if now that we have united almost all free java
implementations, we would reverse and start to fork again. Please take a
long and hard look at the participation agreements, your proposed board
setup, bylaws, etc. and think whether they really protect the
motivations of everybody to contribute, encourage those not represented
on the board to participate in and innovate inside the OpenJDK project
without fear that their contributions will be marginalized. It would be
bad IMHO if any outside contribution would be limited to small bug fixes
here and there and people will take real innovations somewhere else.
Lets grow Java's future together.



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