Trial: Android chief on why Java was picked for Android

Trial: Android chief on why Java was picked for Android

Summary: As Google continues to present its side of the story in the copyright legal battle against Oracle, lawyers recalled Android chief Andy Rubin to the stand.


SAN FRANCISCO -- Android chief Andy Rubin returned to the stand for the third time in two days on Tuesday afternoon as the second witness called by Google in its intellectual property legal battle against Oracle.

See alsoEric Schmidt talks Android, search revenue in Oracle-Google IP trial Trial: Eric Schmidt discusses Google-Sun negotiations for Android CNETGoogle’s Andy Rubin dodges David Boies’ bullets CNETGoogle's Eric Schmidt defends Android in court

Rubin had already appeared earlier on Tuesday, sparring with Oracle counsel David Boies over the definition of fragmentation and what that meant for the Java community and technology.

When prompted by Google counsel Robert Van Nest if there were other programming languages that could have worked for Android, Rubin affirmed there could have been. Some of the other languages considered for Android were Javascript, Python and Lua.

Nevertheless, describing his experience from his first startup, Danger, Rubin highlighted the benefits of using Java for a smartphone -- primarily the well-known brand name as well as compatibility being that it is a common language taught at universities worldwide.

Rubin affirmed that he led negotiations with Sun over implementing Java for Android, with preliminary discussions starting in 2005.

"We saw this as an opportunity to open up Java, and we asked Sun to contribute to the open source community," Rubin said.

Looking at the July 26, 2005 Android GPS presentation, Rubin explained that the initial model for Android was working with software and mobile OEM partners to take the open source platform (Android) and put it on their smartphones.

Van Nest highlighted an email chain between Rubin to Leo Cizek, a Java licensing account manager at Sun, in September 2005. Rubin wrote:

I reviewed the documents. Looks like there are no roadblocks to us taking a license and then open sourcing our implementation.

Right now we are moving ahead with the project and doing an independent implementation. If Sun would like to get involved, we'd be happy to have you.

On the stand, Rubin explained that Sun needed to make a philosophical decisions to partner with Google and throw away the standard license as Google wanted something different for its open source strategy.

In another email in September 2005 to Cizek, Rubin wrote

I was asking you to modify the various agreements to allow our model per our discussions with Vineet. I'm really hoping this is the approach Sun is comfortable with because I think it could mean a really close partnership. As discussed, the two companies are aligned against a common industry bully.

If Sun doesn't want to partner with us to support this initiative, we are fine releasing our work and not calling it Java.

Although Google was in discussions with Sun over a license, Rubin explained that Google was fine with going ahead without one because of the clean room implementation of Java for Android.

Rubin commented that he explained to his Android developer team as to what they couldn't use during the clean room implementation. For example, he said he instructed them that they couldn't download anything from the Sun website that required a license or use anything that wasn't already open source and non-proprietary.


Topics: Oracle, Google, Mobile OS, Open Source, Software Development

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  • Common Industry Bully

    Was he referring to RIM? Microsoft? Who was the bully?
    • The most dominant company in the telephony landscape:

      x I'm tc

        Apple didn't even exist (on anyone's radar) back then. It was M$.
      • In 2005?

      • The most dominant company in the telephony landscape:

        Nokia ... I know hard to imagine right?
      • Why?

        Why do you post as if you know what you are talking about? Do you have any data to back up this declarative sentence? Because if you read the entire e-mail stream, or even just know the time line, it is CLEAR that Rubin is NOT talking about Apple.

        But congrats on confirming your trollhood.
    • Common Industry Bully

      He is most likely referring to Microsoft. I doubt Apple since Sun (now owned by Oracle) and Google had very close ties to Apple at the time. Microsoft was commonly known as a corporate bully.
      • Microsoft was commonly known as a corporate bully.

        They still are although they've had a couple of upstarts since then.
      • Ya, hilarious when you think about this for real.

        Was Google really kicking Microsoft under the bus in its talks with Sun about Java? If so its a risky stance to take in some respects. Think about it seriously. Think about all the Windows based machines around the world where Java comes into use. How many different ways Java is routinely used for applications run on Windows.

        Its almost like some upstart of a new major baseball league coming to Louisville Slugger telling them to hop on board with them to give a kick to the teeth of that industry bully, M.L.B. Bully or benefactor? Really.

        It seems like a slight odd if not risky approach trying to convince that the fairly broad use of Java by way of Windows makes Microsoft a bully. And if Sun or Google thought Microsoft was some kind of a smartphone bully...well they really didn't have their eye on the ball at all did they.
      • Google messed it all up

        Indeed. But, one should also consider that Sun already had different licensing models for Java on desktop/server and Java on embedded systems. They have licensed desktop/server Java under LGPL, which means one is free to bundle it with their proprietary code, on say Windows (as long as you don't modify it). But the embedded Java is released under GPL which means you can't bundle it with your proprietary code and keep it proprietary. In both cases, you can buy an commercial license from Sun, pay royalties and do otherwise.

        Google has chosen to not use GPL for Android, so their use of the GPL Java, clean room or not, is in breach of the license.
  • Google's clean room implementation

    [i]Rubin explained that Google was fine with going ahead without one [a Java license] because of the clean room implementation of Java for Android.[/i]

    Were it not for all of the ex-Sun Java engineers on Google's payroll, it might be believable. I mean, has anyone else noticed all of the ex-Sun Google employees (Andy Rubin, excepted) taking the witness stand on Google's behalf? Hello?!
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • No even if that were not true finding java library code word for word in

      in android would still make that fail any reasonable doubt test. When it has the same comments you know it wasn't even just decompiling it, it was copy 'n paste. Plus their are numerous other emails talking about scrubbing the word java out of the code base.
      Johnny Vegas
      • really

        I haven't heard any mention of identical comments, just use of the same variable names. Hardly a smoking gun.
      • Not Quite Right

        The code that had the same comments in it was NOT code for Java itself, nor for Android. It was TEST CODE.
    • It Helps if you read the right blogs

      Check Google specifically made sure no body who had any connection with Sun worked on Android. It is there in the transcripts of Andy Rubin's questioning by Van Net on direct, published by Groklaw. It has the entire transcript. You read it and then make a decision. Do not read half assed blogs with questionable motives and make an opinion.
    • And...

      ... another person posting declaratively about matters they KNOW NOTHING ABOUT.
  • Oracle should have been laughed out of Court so far.

    But, this is the way we do things. Judge already has sealed the deal and this is window dressing. Sorry you google bashers.
    • How so?

      I see no indication that either side has an easy win or that the Judge has "sealed the deal".
    • agree, the clean room tossed away this merit less lawsuit

      it was bad enough that Sun did not use the best FOSS practices.
      Now Oracle would be smart to right that mistake!
      The Linux Geek
      • Perhaps, but...

        Oracle is run by Larry Ellison. Elison is so puffed up, he believes he is the reincarnation of a Samurai. "Righting that mistake" does not seem like the Way of the Warrior to him, so he will not do it.