Color us shocked: Oracle is embracing communities and collaboration by expanding the OpenJDK participant pool.

From the moment Oracle announced that it would be acquiring Sun, we were expecting the company to extend its notoriously vicious business practices to the typically cordial Java Community Process and the fledgling OpenJDK. Considering just how many other companies Oracle has managed to anger over the years, it’s utterly shocking that they have managed to bring almost every important stakeholder to the OpenJDK.

Winning over IBM was a huge coup for Oracle, especially when you consider the fact that IBM is the one company that competes most obliquely with Oracle in hardware, database and software markets. And being able to keep Red Hat signed onto the project was another big win for Oracle: The company takes Red Hat’s Linux as CentOS and rebrands it with its own kernel version and logos.

And yet, both IBM and Red Hat are dedicated to the OpenJDK. Combine this with the news from Nov. 12 that Apple will also be joining the OpenJDK, and you’ve got quite an alliance of Java stakeholders all working on a single, unified Java.

So kudos to Oracle for being a good community leader. Again, we’re pleasantly surprised by Oracle’s new openness. Who knows, with all this input from some of the world’s strongest software companies, Java just might come out of this whole affair with a more reliable ecosystem.

Apache: Move on, move on
This is an open letter to the Apache Foundation with a single underlying message about the non-profit’s efforts to get the Java SE 5 Test Compatibility Kit from Oracle: Give up.

While Apache does wonderful work elsewhere, its efforts to open the TCK are showing that the organization is a paper tiger. If the open-source-besotted Sun Microsystems wasn’t going to give you what you wanted, then Oracle certainly is not.

The Java SE 5 TCK is a piece of software encumbered by a lengthy user license. This license stipulates that software validated by the TCK cannot be used inside of anything that is not a laptop, desktop or server. That’s a major problem for people who want to build appliances or embedded systems, and Apache rightly wants this clause removed from the TCK before it will even use it to validate the Apache Harmony Project.

But that’s not even going to be an issue, because Oracle won’t be giving out the TCK for free, which is another of Apache’s demands. For the TCK license to be changed, Oracle would have to spend money, with absolutely no reason to do so. How does Oracle benefit? It won’t; just as Sun wouldn’t have benefitted. That’s why Sun said no, and why Oracle is not going to bow to Apache’s demands.

And to top it off, a reworked TCK for Apache would have absolutely no other use. This would be Oracle doing a ton of work just to make Apache happy. And it would be work on a four-year-old obsolete TCK, no less.

It’s time for the Apache Foundation to give it a rest. Even IBM uses Harmony without it being “validated” by the TCK—and if it’s good enough for IBM, it’s good enough for anyone. Not being validated by the TCK takes nothing away from the Harmony Project. In fact, the only thing that takes away from that project is Apache’s constant demands that the TCK be given to them.

If Apache would simply stop talking about the TCK and stop issuing silly demands, maybe everyone would forget and stop caring that Harmony isn’t validated and focus on the fact that it’s a complete, fully open-source Java platform—and it’s available today.