[arch-dev-public] java licensing issues

Jan de Groot jan at jgc.homeip.net
Fri Jun 1 14:15:19 EDT 2007

Hi developers and users,

As we all know, there's a distribution restriction on sun java. Today we
asked at the Sun booth about possibilities for distributing java with
our distribution.
This solution would come down to entering a process which can take quite
some months to get a final approvement. This means that until we would
have such a solution, any Sun java we distribute is illegal.

This would mean that jdk and jre can't have a place in our distribution
at least for the upcoming few months if we choose to apply for a
license. If we don't choose to apply for a license, it won't come back
either. I would opt for not applying for a license, as it will license
us to distribute it, but disallows all forks, livecds or even unofficial
architectures of archlinux to do it.

As we have GNU java right now supporting java 5.0, I would suggest
approving GNU java as the prefered JDK and moving jdk/jre to
unsupported. We are allowed to distribute build scripts, but users have
to download the java binary themselves and build a package out of that.
We leave it up to the user to have a non-free java, we won't force
anything (java-environment and java-runtime will always stay runtime
dependencies instead of depending on java-gcj-compat).

At the final end of this mail I would like to have a word about the so
called OpenJDK that was released as GPL: Though this Open JDK has been
released as source, the sun provided binary JDK at this moment is
anything but GPL. The problem with openjdk is that it needs jdk to get
built (gcj is not enough). Also, the released sources are not complete
because sun has licensing restrictions with 3rd parties themselves. This
means we can't switch to Sun's free OpenJDK yet.
At this moment Redhat has plans to stop further active development of
gcj in their distribution and put their manpower in openjdk, to get it
built with free tools and to extend the missing parts with pieces from
other javas like GNU java. When this project is usable enough to replace
java-gcj-compat as we have it now, it will enter the distribution and
become the blessed Java SDK/runtime.

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