Yesterday, Apache resigned from the JCP executive committee, saying that the members of the executive committee failed to stand up for implementers' rights, and let the integrity of the JCP's licensing structure be broken.
The Apache Software Foundation concludes that that JCP is not an open specification process - that Java specifications are proprietary technology that must be licensed directly from the spec lead under whatever terms the spec lead chooses; that the commercial concerns of a single entity, Oracle, will continue to seriously interfere with and bias the transparent governance of the ecosystem; that it is impossible to distribute independent implementations of JSRs under open source licenses such that users are protected from IP litigation by expert group members or the spec lead; and finally, the EC is unwilling or unable to assert the basic power of their role in the JCP governance process.
In short, the EC and the Java Community Process are neither.
It looks like they're saying that if the committee is going to vote yes, even while pointing out that the licensing terms are wrong, the committee has no value. This makes sense, too; Google was saying the same when they voted no. They said, basically, "oracle's going to make progress on Java 7 anyway" (paraphrased).
Most members, who had comments, pointed out the same problems, but without teeth. So Apache is making the only move they can: they're resigning from the expert committee, not being willing to be part of a sham, which is what they're calling the JCP now.
Oracle responded via Henrik Stahl's blog, saying in part:
Apache voted against initiating technical committee work on both SE 7 and SE 8, effectively voting against moving Java forward. Now, despite supporting the technical direction, Apache have announced that they are quitting the Executive Committee. Oracle has a responsibility to move Java forward and to maintain the uniformity of the Java standard for the millions of Java developers and the majority of Executive Committee members agree. We encourage Apache to reconsider its position and remain a part of the process to move Java forward. ASF and many open source projects within it are an important part of the overall Java ecosystem.
He's right, Apache was voting to stall Java until the licensing was changed. And java does need to move forward, and he's saying also "don't fork java" at the same time.
However, Rickard Oberg asked if it was actually a response if it didn't address the real issue; others pointed out the majority support for the ASF's reasoning for voting no even while they voted yes.
This means the JCP is losing its ability to keep respected members on board at a startling clip. Doug Lea resigned a few months ago, you may have heard of him (and if you've ever used java.util.concurrent, you've thanked him.) Tim Peierls resigned a few days ago, and now Apache, who's supported Java a lot.
What does it mean when so many people make a public decision to not be part of the Java governance ecosystem, going as far to say that the "governance" isn't real? Does this change anything?
If you ask me, it doesn't matter; Apache's just saying they're not going to bother with trying to lead Java anywhere. Oracle's got it under control anyway; this is all just growing pains with the change in leadership. Oracle's a dictator, but so what? Sun was, too, but wasn't so open about it. Java will be fine, Apache just won't be part of the JCP.