Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sun Didn't Like Google's Handling of Android Either

Darryl K. Taft's article Java Creator James Gosling: Why I Quit Oracle provides some additional insight into why the so-called "father of Java" (James Gosling) quit Oracle shortly after the Oracle acquisition of Sun. That's interesting enough in itself and the title of the article implies that content. However, I found the reported Gosling comments on Sun, Google, and Android just as interesting. I look at that briefly in this post.

I have heard and read from more than one Java developer who sees Oracle's lawsuit against Google over Android as completely evil and indefensible. Many of these folks say things along the lines of, "Sun would never have done anything like that." If Gosling is quoted correctly, it seems clear that Sun wasn't too happy about Google's tactics with Android either. According to the article, Gosling stated, "We were pretty ticked off with what they were doing and the way they were doing it."

If Sun wasn't happy with Google, why didn't they purse the issue legally like Oracle has? Gosling's explanation is two-fold: lawsuits are expensive in terms of money and senior personnel time and because "Google has the PR aura about it as being the universe’s love child." Obviously, it's not good public relations to sue the "universe's love child." Software developers as a group seem particularly prone to "us versus them" attitudes: PC vs Mac, Windows vs Linux, vi vs emacs, NetBeans vs Eclipse, aligned curly braces vs opening brace continuing same line, and on and on. This seems to have spilled over to love/hate relationships with vendors as well.

The article references Gosling's own blog post with more details on how Sun tried to handle the Android situation. In his blog, Gosling makes it clear that he is in no way defending Oracle or contributing to Oracle's lawsuit. Instead, though, this article and his blog posts are intended as reminders that "There are no guiltless parties with white hats in this little drama." One question I wonder about: Had Sun done anything legally against Google regarding Android, would Sun (an obvious and enthusiastic open source supporter in recent years) have been considered 'attacking open source' as some allege Oracle has?

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