Governing Board Minutes: 2012/5/24

The OpenJDK Governing Board met via conference call on Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 16:00 UTC with the following agenda:

  1. Mike Milinkovich as GB Observer
  2. Contributions and future legal actions
  3. Infrastructure update

Four Board members were present at the start: Andrew Haley, Doug Lea, Mark Reinhold, and Georges Saab. Jason Gartner joined the call about 25 minutes late.

Two Observers were present: John Duimovich and Andrew Haley.

The intent of these minutes is to capture the conversational flow of the Board’s discussion and also to record decisions. If you are interested only in the latter then search for the word “AGREED” throughout the text.

1. Mike Milinkovich as GB Observer

Mark opened the meeting by saying that it was Oracle’s intent to nominate Mike as an Observer given his past contributions and experience. After determining that nobody objected to Mike being on the call during the vote, Mark nominated Mike to Observer. The motion was quickly seconded by Doug and then passed unanimously.

AGREED: Mike Milinkovich is appointed an Observer.

2. Contributions and future legal actions

Doug put this topic on the agenda. Mark clarified that the intent of this topic was to discuss whether there was a way to guarantee that contributions made to OpenJDK would not be used by any organization in a future legal action.

Georges started by providing a high-level Oracle perspective. He said that he considered the current legal action to be unique and extraordinary. The success of the Java platform is due to the efforts of many organizations and many individuals made over many years. All legal action has been focused on trying to preserve compatibility and prevent the fragmentation of the platform, so as to protect these long-term investments. In the history of Java there have been only two serious threats. The first time, Sun took legal action. In the second, responsibility fell to Oracle. In this case amicable resolution was attempted multiple times. Use of OpenJDK was a potential solution. When it became clear that a mutually-acceptable agreement would not be possible, Oracle concluded that the only way to protect Java from fragmentation was legal action.

Given that background, Mark asked for other people’s thoughts. Doug said he thought that academics just wanted to stay out of the mistakes of big corporations. He had anecdotal evidence to support his assertion that people would not want to contribute if they were concerned about being pulled into a lawsuit. Andrew agreed that there are various concerns around contributing. Given that Oracle requires that the copyright to any code in the JDK be fully shared with Oracle, Andrew didn’t believe that much could be done except voice disquiet. Doug stated his current advice to potential contributors: Put contributions into the public domain and let it get pulled into the JDK. He asked for validation of that advice. Andrew pointed out that most contributions to OpenJDK are consequences of derived work from OpenJDK (e.g., a small change); thus, the public domain solution will only work for substantial, stand-alone changes. Doug pressed for a simple contribution “recipe.” Mike did not think that a recipe would exist in cases where the contribution consisted of a derivative work of the existing code base. John guessed that contributors of large bodies of work would not have the ability to prevent their use in some legal action. Mike expected that a large contribution being dragged into a lawsuit was unlikely. Doug agreed, noting that both sides had treated him well.

Georges affirmed that contributions are not something to be taken lightly. He declared that it was important to hear these concerns and would work with legal to determine if any broad clarifications were possible. Doug observed that it would be difficult to resolve this to everybody’s satisfaction. He expected a gradation of answers and would like to have a clear answer for significant contributions and another for the addition of a new method in an existing package/class.

3. Infrastructure update

Georges reported that the migration from the old bug system to the new internal JIRA system was moving forward at full speed with an expected transition date in mid-June, as anticipated when the current plan was adopted. The team was looking at specific issues around things that need to be supported, e.g., OpenJDK usernames, multiple simultaneous releases, end-game triage, etc. The team found a way to transition the existing external bug-filing and viewing service on with minimal disruption. The next phase of the effort would be to make the new system available to the wider community. Georges reported that hardware for the open system was already in place, and legal and security clearances continue to move along. Doug was happy to hear that the old bug system would go away soon.

4. Closing thoughts

Jason proposed that there should be a joint understanding of the five to eight things that need to be done for the OpenJDK Community to be “more open.” Perhaps a “score card of openness” which might include visibility of source, bug systems, build systems, etc. Georges asked if this was mostly about the availability of technical infrastructure. Jason responded that a score card could be used to continuously evaluate what things are limiting participation, whether they be related to infrastructure or to governance. Georges suggested that this become an agenda item for a future meeting. After some discussion it was agreed that Andrew, Georges, and Tim Ellison (of IBM, suggested by Jason) would meet separately to draft an initial proposal.

At this point the Board adjourned.