On the role of the SCA

Andrew Haley aph at redhat.com
Mon May 9 12:36:16 UTC 2011

On 05/09/2011 01:21 PM, Dr Andrew John Hughes wrote:
> On 9 May 2011 10:23, Andrew Haley <aph at redhat.com> wrote:
>> Taking this off the governing board thread:
>> On 28/04/11 11:30, Mark Wielaard wrote:
>>> - Get rid of the SCA. Commit to using the GPL for everything.
>>>   People should be able to be members of the community without
>>>   having to assign all their rights on non-reciprocal terms to
>>>   Oracle.
>> Personally, I think this would be a disaster for free Java.  Oracle
>> would continue their proprietary projects, making improvements to the
>> JDK, but would have to firewall contributions from the wider community
>> to make sure that they didn't get in to the proprietary JDK tree.  So,
>> the OpenJDK and JDK trees would have to be isolated from each other.
>> Any contributions from the community that were needed in the
>> proprietary tree would have to be rewritten.  The end result would
>> surely be that OpenJDK would be orphaned, and would wither without
>> Oracle's contributions.  It might make free software developers feel
>> better, but it would push users back to using proprietary Java.
> But the other side of the coin is that the OCA is a clear barrier to
> contributions from outside Oracle, whether it's a case that someone
> doesn't want to hand over copyright to Oracle or they simply don't
> have the rights to hand over.

That's true.  There is no doubt that the SCA is a barrier to some

> As I mentioned in the previous thread, much of this could be sorted
> out if Oracle simply cleaned up their binaries so that there was a
> clear GPL component with proprietary blobs to plug in.  That's both
> technically and legally possible AFAICS, but it does require a little
> work initially.  The benefit far outweighs this initial outlay though,
> as you'd be able to get rid of the OCA

I don't think you would.  I don't think it would make any difference
to the core issue, as I described above.  Improvements to the VM, for
example, can't be separated into proprietary blobs.

> and actually start to make OpenJDK into a proper FOSS project.

> It goes a bit further than making "free software developers feel
> better" and actually removes a huge barrier for entry into the
> project.

It does, but this is insignificant when compared with the problems
that would be caused by forking.  The question is simply whether the
pain of maintaining a non-proprietary fork would be justified by the
amount of new software that would be contributed.

> I agree that with the present setup, Oracle would end up not
> contributing to OpenJDK.  The fact that it would wither without them
> just shows how unhealthy this project is in the first place.

Not necessarily: it shows that their contribution is huge, for sure.


More information about the discuss mailing list