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AdoptOpenJDK moves to Eclipse Foundation as Adoptium

The Eclipse Foundation has launched a new working group to provide governance, IP services and developer advocacy for Adoptium, the newly renamed AdoptOpenJDK distribution of the OpenJDK spec.

The Eclipse Foundation's new Adoptium Working Group is an effort to give Eclipse Adoptium, formerly known as AdoptOpenJDK, the kind of governance and support required to build a hearty ecosystem around it.

This move helps to complete the transfer of AdoptOpenJDK to the Eclipse Foundation as the Adoptium project. The working group will ensure that the future of the technology will be governed under a vendor-neutral framework.

Adoptium was founded by multiple participants, including Java developers and vendors such as Alibaba Cloud, Huawei, IBM, iJUG (an association of the German Java user groups), Karakun AG, Microsoft, New Relic and Red Hat. The Adoptium Working Group will provide the Java ecosystem with fully compatible distributions of Java runtimes based on OpenJDK source code, said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation.

The same code

"Basically, the working group is progress towards giving enterprise Java users an alternative to the OpenJDK that is based on exactly the same code -- an option not dependent on Oracle, but supported by a consortium of other vendors," said Stephen O'Grady, an analyst at RedMonk in Portland, Maine.

Those four words are important: Exactly the same code.

Mike MilinkovichMike Milinkovich

"This is not in any way a fork of OpenJDK; this is a distribution mechanism for open JDK with a particular emphasis on ensuring that the market has high-quality, free Java runtimes with some amount of community-based long-term support," Milinkovich said.

Three reasons why

The plan for Adoptium makes sense for people steeped in the Java world.

"Based on my experience working in open source and standards groups, including Eclipse, I can think of three reasons why AdoptOpenJDK would want to move to the Eclipse Foundation," said Eric Newcomer, CTO at WSO2. "Those reasons are: cost, as all but one of the AdoptOpenJDK members are already members of Eclipse, so they can leverage the membership fees they are already paying."

The second reason is that the Eclipse foundation has experienced staff members who know how to manage a consortium's activities and promote technology adoption, including Java, Newcomer said.

Basically, the working group is progress towards giving enterprise Java users an alternative to the OpenJDK that is based on exactly the same code -- an option not dependent on Oracle, but supported by a consortium of other vendors.
Stephen O'GradyAnalyst, RedMonk

"The third reason is adoption, as Eclipse is well known in the industry and its weight will help further the goals of AdoptOpenJDK, which is to promote wider adoption of OpenJDK," he added.

Negotiating with Oracle

Essentially, AdoptOpenJDK has undergone a lift-and-shift maneuver to the Eclipse Foundation's governance model and its intellectual property and release oversights, said Tim Ellison, a distinguished engineer and principal architect at Red Hat and a project lead for Eclipse Adoptium. In addition, Eclipse officials successfully negotiated an agreement with Oracle to have access to the Java technology compatibility kit (TCK), which is the test suite that determines whether you are compliant with the Java specification.

Oracle has been known to be a tough negotiator when it comes to the TCK. But in this case, the database behemoth compromised with the Eclipse Foundation.

"Oracle was definitely supportive of getting this done," Milinkovich said. "Because they could have simply said, 'This isn't working for us.' But they invested a ton of effort with us to get through this and come up with an arrangement that both parties could live with. So I would characterize the negotiations as complicated."

Deliverables on the way

The working group will begin releasing new software in a matter of months.

"The Adoptium working group will be promoting a number of high-quality binaries, including the group's own Temurin binaries which will be produced by the Eclipse Temurin project," said George Adams, Java program manager at Microsoft and chair of the Adoptium Working Group Steering committee, in a blog post. "The current expectation is that the first formal release of Eclipse Temurin binaries will be the July quarterly updates."

Meanwhile, the AdoptOpenJDK community can take advantage of the new working group's governance framework and intellectual property services, as well as its developer advocacy, marketing, legal and hosting capabilities.

"A new chapter in the tumultuous history of Java is being written, with the OpenJDK camp now moving into the Eclipse Foundation and the nice Latin name of Adoptium," said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research. "It is all about adoption of OpenJDK by ISVs and enterprises versus Oracle's Java JDK. At the core of the challenge is, can the open source approach taken by many big-name vendors out-innovate Oracle?"

However, as Oracle charges users for its JDK, it has to deliver value. Oracle does so with the release of a new version of Java every six months.

"Maybe the outcome will be a more innovative and expensive, but better supported Oracle Java SDK living next to the Eclipse Adoptium that is moving slower," Mueller said.

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