Following recent news that Oracle would no longer maintain Java 6, Red Hat announced its commitment to sustaining the open source OpenJDK 6 project. It's stepping into the project leader role vacated by Oracle, and with the help of the OpenJDK community -- including newly arrived IBM, as well as the existing community members -- it hopes to be able to keep the widely used code maintained.
The OpenJDK 7 project and future OpenJDK 8 project continue to be lead by Oracle and include input from multiple companies.
Craig Muzilla, Red Hat's VP and general manager for Middleware, told me, "You don't just abandon open source projects. There are still many users and uses for OpenJDK 6, and Red Hat is committed to seeing their needs served."
Despite the recent rash of Java vulnerabilities, Muzilla believed that the community would be able to deliver on OpenJDK 6 if they worked together. He said, "Red Hat is supremely aware of the open source ethos and the need for responsible stewardship. We plan to use our community experience to keep a viable open source Java in the marketplace for the long term."
Red Hat's use of Java for mission-critical enterprise applications has steadily grown, both through the acquisition of companies like JBoss and through other initiatives. This announcement of moves to secure leadership roles in the OpenJDK community underscore how seriously it considers Java, as does the fact it's taking on leadership of a technology being abandoned by its parent. As IDC's Al Hilwa said, "Red Hat has done well to stand by its decision to continue supporting and investing in Java."
Red Hat isn't just assuming leadership of OpenJDK 6, it's now also a full member of the OpenJDK Governing Board, with longtime Java technical lead Andrew Haley stepping into a full leadership role across the OpenJDK community. The Governing Board appeared together in a panel recently at the FOSDEM open source developer conference, and it was clear that Haley is not afraid to speak up for the community of developers, despite a strong Oracle presence on the Board. It's tempting to suggest this is a contrast between Oracle's commercial instincts and Red Hat's community instincts. Time will tell which instincts are right.
This story, "Red Hat's Java leadership grows as Oracle's wanes," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.