Getting OpenJDK a JCK

One of the questions that has kept coming up at events considering OpenJDK and its use of the GPL (most recently at FOSDEM) is how the compatibility tests - the JCK - will be made available to the OpenJDK community. I keep pressing for answers on this one and while Sun is still thinking it through, there are a few general principles that will be true:

  • Sun will keep testing the OpenJDK code base against the appropriate JCK as it builds Sun's JDK product distribution. That means the code will be maintained in a ready-for-compatibility-testing state.
  • Because we're starting from that known-compatible code, it's easier for others to test for compatibility. Sun will make a JCK easily available to community members. That way the OpenJDK community can be sure things built under the GPL are actually compatible with the specs.
  • We'll also find a way to make it clear how communities can use the word "Java" to describe this code. We expect people will want to use Duke as the logo - that's why we open sourced him too! For companies that want to use the "cup and steam" logo (and the term "Java" in the usual commercial usages), the fastest and simplest path to gain the right to use them on an implementation will be to start from the OpenJDK code base, or from Sun's licensed product sources (the same code, different licenses).
  • For people who want to start from codebases other than OpenJDK, the existing JCK processes (and their associated scholarship schemes) will remain in place. OpenJDK isn't about taking anything away; it's about adding new options and evolving the next stage of the Java environment.

This is still a work in progress, but we know how important compatibility is to the free and open source Java software community. Sun is committed to making sure that there is a clear path forward for OpenJDK-based implementations to test for Java compatibility.

I've also no doubt that we're likely to make mistakes as we work things through, especially as our business models around Java things evolve. Apologies in advance, help us fix them as they show up. But we're confident that with the GPL, OpenJDK will succeed in creating an exciting community in which innovation stays in the open. I'm confident this will create opportunities for both businesses and developers that otherwise wouldn't happen and at the same time protect everyone's freedoms.

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