☞ Good For Java?

  • “IBM will work with Oracle and the Java community to make OpenJDK the primary high performance open source runtime for Java. IBM will be shifting its development effort from the Apache Project Harmony to OpenJDK.”

    As always in these corporate mating dances, the real meat is in what’s not said, especially about the Google lawsuit, the future of Apache Harmony without IBM, the licensing arrangements, the governance of OpenJDK and the carving-up of control of the JCP. 

    Will IBM actually join the community or is this a corporation-corporation deal like with OpenOffice? What else was agreed in the deal between IBM and Oracle that made this happen? Where does this leave open source developers in the software patent wars? There’s plenty to explore, but sadly none of the articles so far have asked any of these questions.

  • Tim Ellison is the chair of the Apache Harmony PMC, so his comments here are very significant – one might even suggest they amount to calling for Harmony to be wound up, not that that’s one person or company’s decision.
  • Repeat after me “pragmatic”, “pragmatic”, “pragmatic”
    Sacha Labourey pretty much nails the issues here. The Java community needed clarity over whether it was an open, level playing field or whether they were just sharecropping someone else’s property. Clarity is clarity, whether you like it or not.
  • Mark Reinhold focuses as I’d expect on the technical collaboration. But the comments highlight that the announcement has been made with the details of the OpenJDK governance still unresolved.
  • List of the people working on Harmony. Not only is the list apparently out of date, it has such a strong IBM contingent (I wonder how many of those “independents” are actually IBM or Intel contractors) that I am amazed it has escaped Apache Board scrutiny for so long.

[Also on ComputerWorldUK]

☞ Status.Net Finds Twitter’s Missing Business Model

  • The flexibility and open source code of Status.Net make it a natural vehicle for internal/private network micro-blogging (we hope to use it in ForgeRock and it was the basis for the internal microblogging in Sun), for parallel-network microblogging and for free-form data-bus applications. The federated capabilities mean that those experiments can easily leverage the rest of the distributed Status.Net community.

    The result? Status.Net already has a corporate penetration that should be making Twitter’s management drool with envy, and Evan & co have only just started exploring the potential. The distributed, community-based, open-by-rule web is going to win in the end and it’s Status.Net not Twitter – yes, free software – proving it.


  • Useful charts from O’Grady. Analysing e-mail like this has been a valuable trend indicator for a long time. I’m especially interested in how Sun’s open source involvement grew after I started as COSO 🙂
  • I really think Gerv should submit the Poetic License for OSI approval, even it does mean one more license.

✈ Awe

The huge public art event in Paris this weekend – Nuit Blanche – included some works on an absolutely monumental scale. One bridge was covered with a huge scaffolding structure with gauze wrapped over cubic sections illuminated by video projectors. The resulting work, accompanied by penetrating ambient music, was enthralling – holding thousands of people captive with it’s ever-changing, all-consuming imagery.

When we reached Notre Dame, however, it was clear something very special was going on. Usually flood-lit (and with the windows dark), the ancient cathedral was in darkness – but with radiantly-illuminated stained glass windows, lit from within. As we passed, they opened the doors to the building and we were swept in with the crowd.

Inside, the building was mostly unlit. Incredibly powerful white spotlights in the chancel were pointing up at each of the rose windows, and the area around the crossing was filled with votive candles whose smoke gave just enough opacity to turn the light beams into marble columns of light. Meanwhile, a gentle ambient soundtrack was being played, somehow enhancing the silence and overcoming the sounds of footsteps and hushed conversation. For me, the sense it produced was of awe – aweful, in the good sense.

This was all an art-work by Thierry Dreyfus, and if his goal was to capture and express the feeling of being in awe in the presence of greatness, he succeeded. His was for me the highlight in art and in communication for the year so far, and will remain a key Paris memory for a long time.

★ Rehost And Carry On

Revised version of British wartime poster, found on Wikipedia

T-Shirts Now Available!

I spent the last two days in Brussels with many of the key participants  in the OpenESB Community. OpenESB is a large software subsystem that conveniently allows all kinds of applications to communicate with each other across networks. It was created by Sun, but since the Oracle acquisition has, as the former Sun project leader (now at Google) wrote eloquently, languished in the decline reserved for projects with important customers which are nonetheless no longer wanted. There’s the soft sound of footsteps backing away to leave it in splendid, unannounced isolation.

The community around OpenESB is actually fairly active, and they (or, as it includes ForgeRock where I now work, perhaps I should say “we”) want OpenESB to stay around. But what do you do if the project is hosted somewhere under the control of a disinterested party? There’s no huge crime or disagreement to “justify” a fork and the code is still out there, but on the other hand any new plans really will need the source and the community presence hosted in a way that allows the interested parties to change and improve things without having to wait for weeks to get replies to requests and risk having them declined if they are deemed inconvenient.

That’s why the topic under discussion is not forking – the remaining community is not divided – but rehosting. That’s also how I would characterise what ForgeRock has done with OpenAM (formerly OpenSSO) and OpenDJ (formerly OpenDS). No conflict, no malice, just a desire by the remaining community to carry on in the aftermath of the main sponsor backing silently away.

[An expanded version of this post can be found on ComputerWorldUK]

☆ New ventures: OpenDJ, FossAlliance

Friday was a busy day full of news for me. After an exhausting day full of conference interventions on Thursday at Open World Forum (a total of five), Friday was the day that I was free to announce both OpenDJ and FossAlliance.

OpenDJ from ForgeRock

OpenDJ is the next addition to our product family at ForgeRock. It is a highly scalable directory server written entirely in Java. It deploys easily into any Java EE application server, is fully LDAP compliant and is rich in features. It meshes beautifully with our OpenAM access management, federation, authentication and authorisation server. It’s entirely open source and may be freely deployed with the confidence that ForgeRock have subscriptions available when needed.

If it sounds familiar, it may be becuase it is based on the OpenDS project Sun used to work on. My old colleague Ludovic Poitou has joined ForgeRock to look after it for us, and I am keen to see a co-developer community grow around it in addition to the substantial deployer community that is now free to migrate from OpenDS to OpenDJ. There’s plenty more about it in the press release and FAQ.

Open Source Consulting from FossAlliance

On a more personal note, over the last few months I have received more and more requests for advice and help from a range of organisations. I’ve joined with several trusted long-term friends to form a consulting alliance for and about free and open source software, called FossAlliance. It provides a “one stop shop” delivering a full range of help, from training to strategic consulting, policy-setting, migration, community engagement and everything else in between – even marketing. We’re able to deliver these services through our alliance of companies, carefully balanced to deliver the full range of engagements.

I’ve also received a large number of speaking engagement requests and now work with a facilitator to arrange engagements. Hopefully these changes will help make life smoother without affecting the building momentum.

✍ Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

Joan of ArcIn my “state of the FOSS world” comments during the opening plenary of Open World Forum in Paris recently, I observed how important it is to remember our founding principles. Modern France was founded on “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” and that same formulation – liberty, equality and community – is at the heart of the free and open source movement. Of course, as The Terror proved in France, not everything done in the name of the revolution is actually good, and it’s important to return to principles regularly to understand them for a new age. Here are my “state of the FOSS World” points.

The last decade has seen many open source activities run for the benefit of a single company, but the roots of software freedom can be found in the synchronisation of part of the interests of many equal participants. The next phase of open source should embrace “open-by-rule” and have the liberties of every participant respected equally. We have already seen OpenStack and The Document Foundation arise; I believe there will be more.

The benefits that businesses derive from open source – especially flexibility, vendor independence and the cost savings that result from both through accelerated and simplified procurement – arise from Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. Jeffrey Hammond presented research showing lower barriers to adoption of open source software in enterprises as their understanding of and comfort with open source improve.

They will reap the benefits most when they recognise that open source business value is the derivative of flexibility, innovation and independence, and that those are themselves the derivatives of liberty. That is to say, all business benefits of open source are the first and second derivative of liberty, exercised in a community of equality. Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, in other words.

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