Re: Report from the Debian Java developers meeting at FOSDEM
Grzegorz B. Prokopski wrote:
W liście z wto, 02-03-2004, godz. 10:54, Stefan Gybas pisze:
[... cutting out all things that I agree with ... ]
- License conflicts with GPL'ed Java interpreters
Currently Kaffe 1.1.x is the best choice for running Java applications
in Debian. It is, however, licensed under the GPL so there's been some
discussion whether Java software which is licensed e.g. under the
Apache License (version 1.1 or 2.0) can be run with it. The opinion of
the Free Software Foundation can be found at
some developers have a different point of view since Kaffe's core
classes are just another implementation of the standard Java API.
The long-term solution to this problem is probably the ongoing merge
with GNU classpath (http://www.gnu.org/software/classpath/) which is
licensed under the GPL with a linking exception. In a couple of
Unless I am seriously missing something, this won't change much if
anything, as the Kaffe JVM engine itself still remains under GPL.
Kaffe hasn't fully switched to using GNU Classpath yet, so I'd rather
not discuss 'what-if' scenarios. But if Gadek insists on beating a dead
horse once more , let's play pseudo-lawyers again.
Debian-legal didn't follow the interpretation of GPL of Etienne, another
SableVM developer, the last time around, when he was asserting Kaffe
being GPLd makes Java applications undistributable. Instead,
debain-legal supported my interpretation of GPL. I don't see why they
would change their minds this time around, since GNU Classpath is more
liberally licensed than Kaffe's old class library.
If we want to think about free java not for "home-only" use, but so
that free JVM could be distributed with variety of software
(GPL-incompatible including, like Apache, Eclipse...) I'd argue that
GPLed JVM is not any vital choice. From any company POV it's just too
GPL is for "home-only" use? I must have missed the announcement :)
dangerous to give some venture capitalists in .jp a gun to sue for
breaking the GPL (and some of us wouldn't do it for moral reasons too).
Pretty much the same situation with the Linux kernel: if you make binary
only modules, people who own copyrights in the kernel could sue you.
Heck, even SCO could sue you out of the blue. Would you therefore
recommend that companies avoid Debian?
I'd rather recommend that companies consult their legal staff about the
implications of *any* license, and AFAIK, that's what most companies do.
We also need to get/keep the free JVMs working on all architectures so
they move to testing. This is the part where we currently need most help
so if porters have a couple of minutes (or should I say hours?) please
help us. Just send a mail to the debian-java mailing list.
It might be just me, but I sense Kaffe-centrism here ;-)
Only if 'free JVMs' means Kaffe to you. It doesn't mean that to me, for
sure. I prefer the more general term 'free runtimes' anyway. And I'd
love to have all of them in testing, for what its worth.
Let's put it another way. In SableVM you get ports for free. I take care
of this, fully. SableVM works on all Debian architectures where libffi
is available [*] (and some non-Debian arches too).
You are a very talented developer, and I'd like to compliment you on
your achievements. I'm very pleased to hear that SableVM works on all
Debian architectures where libffi is available. Especially since Kaffe
has been having a lot of problems, lately.
In fact, since libffi seems to have turned out to be a good choice for
portability, *maybe* building kaffe with libffi would help on those
platforms that are still broken. After all, the configure option is
still in there ;)
What is needed is some help to make sure SableVM works with the program
of your choice on a platform of your choice. SableVM 1.1.0 is out,
packages are in unstable - perfect conditions to start helping.
We are doing that for Kaffe for a while now, and it really helps a lot.
Frankly, I'm very glad to see SableVM is catching up in that area, as
well. Hopefully, once all the application you want run well enough on
SableVM, we can stop having to go though all these licensing discussions
again and again.
We all want to make free java usable and robust. But given that there's
commerically-free Suns Java, we won't get far with not truly freely
usable Java. That's why GNU Classpath is under GPL _with exception_, no?
Just use gcj/gij, then. They have a big company backing them. The FSF is
backing them and recommending it as a runtime for java. Gcj is neither
an experimental nor a research project. That's why it's the only
implementation I would bet my money on to be still kicking up dirt five
years from now.
Let me cite RMS from http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/why-not-lgpl.html
"Using the ordinary GPL is not advantageous for every library. There
are reasons that can make it better to use the Library GPL in certain
cases. The most common case is when a free library's features are
readily available for proprietary software through other alternative
libraries. In that case, the library cannot give free software any
particular advantage, so it is better to use the Library GPL for that
FSF is free to license their code as they see fit. If you want "truly
freely usable" software, you should put it in public domain. I, for one,
am quite happy with the compromises on liberty made by the GPL.
PS: As Jim Pick explained at FOSDEM - Kaffe has been GPLed exactly
for this purpose: to prevent its usage with GPL-incompatible software.
I don't think anything changed in GPL interpretation since then.
Sure it did. Transvirtual and the Kaffe core developer team publicly
stated in their FAQ on the old kaffe.org website that they consider
running commercial applications on kaffe to be ok. I've posted the link
to archive.org last time we had this discussion . I can do it again,
it it makes you feel better.
Given that Transvirtual and the Kaffe core developer team were the
only/major copyright holders on the Kaffe source code, I think their
opinion weighs more than FSFs. And given that such a permission has been
granted by the copyright holders, it'd be rude to pretend that hasn't
While the Kaffe copyright holders could change their mind, FSF can not
be so flexible. So the FSF has to stay with the interpretation they
worked out with Transvirtual initially, when Transvirtual thought they
could make a business selling java runtimes. After a while Transvirtual
realized that the business case was not as solid as they thought,
apparently, and changed their mind, as far as I can tell from the
It's no different than Linux Torvalds saying binary modules are OK, in
my opinion. As a copyright holder, he's free to interpret the GPL in his
own way. Just like you and the FSF are free to disagree. But remember
that only copyright owners can sue for copyright violations.
Anyway, SableVM is a very cool virtual machine. It's as good a choice as
any other Classpath using virtual machine, maybe even better, depending
on your needs. I'm glad to hear it's progressing so nicely. Keep up the
 My assumption is that as a new stable SableVM release comes out, and
the initial excitement is over, SableVM developers try to force me into
yet another licensing discussion in order to fish for users/developers.
Or maybe because they are bored, I can't tell. SableVM 1.1.0 came out
last week, and promptly Etienne attacked Kaffe on debian-java, followed
by Grzegorz's attacks yesterday. The Kaffe licensing attacks from last
year in October/November seem to have been preceeded by a set of SableVM
1.0.9 test releases.
Note that I said *assumption*. Feel free to make your own judgements.
 And the time before that, I believe. And I guess the time before
that as well.