ObjectWeb exec: JBOSS engaging in deception (actually, not)

ObjectWeb exec: JBOSS engaging in deception (actually, not)

Summary: In response to one of my blogs/podcasts regarding IBM's acquisition of open source J2EE provider Gluecode, ObjectWeb.org executive committee member François Letellier has not only asked for a clarification, but has taken a jab at JBOSS CEO Marc Fluery's communication style.

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In response to one of my blogs/podcasts regarding IBM's acquisition of open source J2EE provider Gluecode, ObjectWeb.org executive committee member François Letellier has not only asked for a clarification, but has taken a jab at JBOSS CEO Marc Fluery's communication style.   In that blog, I wrote "In fact, JOnAS, which is the app server that's packaged with Red Hat Linux, can't even claim to be a J2EE server because putting the J2EE brand on a Java application requires special certification — something JOnAS doesn't have yet."   JOnAS is ObjectWeb's open source-based Java application server.   On the grounds that JOnAS was certified at the time that the blog was published, Letellier wants a correction.   Wrote Letellier in his e-mail:

This appears to be blatant misinformation. JOnAS was certified for over 3 months when the [blog was published] (see Jonas , Press Release, for instance).  It's sad to see that JBoss communication policy is based on rant and deceptive statements. Although we respect all viewpoints, we cannot accept to see deceptive information about ObjectWeb propagated in the press.
So, for starters, while he's a bit of a firebrand, Fleury was not the one who wrote or said that JOnAS was not certified.  I was.  Second, my statement was based on the fact that at the time, a production-ready certified version of JOnAS was not yet available from ObjectWeb nor was a certified version available for Red Hat Enterprise Linux.   In response to the mistake, a correction is indeed in order, but some further clarification is necessary. 

According to the bottom of ObjectWeb's homepage for JOnAS, JOnAS version 4.3.5 is the first stable version of JOnAS that is J2EE 1.4 certified, yet that stable version was not available until May 31, 2005 (well after the blog was published).  According to the same page, on April 1, 2005, JOnAS version 4.3.4 was also the first stable version of JOnAS to be certified (and that was before the blog was published).  While I don't have an exact copy of what that page looked like on the day that the blog was published, I did research the issue and although the blog is clearly incorrect, it's also clear that the ObjectWeb-provided information is confusing as well. 

Furthermore, it should be noted that there's an important footnote to the JOnAS certification:

 

JavaTM Compliance Information: the certification of compliance against Sun J2EETM 1.4 Certification Test Suite has been successfully completed for (and only for) the following configuration: binary package jonas4.3.5-tomcat5.0.30.tgz running on Sun JDKTM 1.4.2_07, deployed on Linux kernel 2.4.9 with an OracleTM database version 10.0.1.4 and JDBCTM driver i-net ORANXOTM version 2.08.

Corresponding source code is available under LGPL license from CVS repository with tag JONAS_4_3_5. Please note that redistribution of JOnAS certified binary package is subject to licencing of Java trademarks. See http://www.sun.com/policies/trademarks/.

Aside from the suggestion that the certification exists only for version 4.3.5 (released at the end of May), it should be noted that the availability of a J2EE 1.4 certified version of JOnAS is confined to a rather specific environment.   Version 2.4 of the Linux kernel is well past the ".9" release (now at ".31") and version 2.6 of the kernel as been out for a while as well.

Between the lines of the the second paragraph of the above caveat hides the tipping point in the larger controversy over open sourcing Java.  People often wonder what all the fuss is about since there are open source J2EE servers out there like the one from JBOSS and, now, from ObjectWeb.  The reason that specific distributions of Linux like Red Hat's don't come with a certified version of JOnAS even though JOnAS is open source software is due to the aforementioned redistribution clause.   It's one thing to create an open source version of Java.  Anyone can do that. (It's a lot of work.)  It's an entirely different thing -- running the certification suite --  to certify it (most IT shops will only use certified versions).  Beyond that, for a third party like Red Hat or Novell to distribute (as well as profit from) a certified version, those third parties must pay a licensing fee to Sun.  

See my next blog -- Weighing options when going the open source J2EE route -- to figure out what all this means to you.

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  • Clarifications about "J2EE certified" JOnAS

    2 points I would like to clarify:

    - First, the specific environment the JOnAS certification is "confined" to (Linux, database and JOnAS releases). It corresponds to the environment that was used to pass the TCK.
    JBoss, as well as commercial J2EE servers, also should have published such environment specifications - they certainly did. And noone can pass the TCK on ALL environments...

    - Second, concerning who can use the Java branding: you are right, if you embed JOnAS in your own app server for example, you can't claim that your app server is J2EE certified.
    Providing a customer with a J2EE certified server would either require that you obtain a license from Sun, or that the customer downloads his own JOnAS libraries from the ObjectWeb site to replace the embedded ones !

    Note this is only a branding and marketing issue: it is the same code, it has the same properties and does the same things - what is discussed here is the right to claim for a "J2EE certified" label or not.
    And the Java brand belongs to Sun, everyone agrees on that.

    Regards,
    Pierre-Yves Gibello - Objectweb Board
    gibello