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Apache Software Foundation considers taking custody of JDE NetBeans

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September 14, 2016

Earlier today, we heard that the Apache Software Foundation is considering taking custody of the Java development environment (JDE) NetBeans from Oracle.

The integrated development environment allows the design of Java software and a few other languages. It also runs operating systems that can fire up a JVM.

As the Foundation explains in its proposal, “NetBeans has approximately 1.5 million active users around the globe in very diverse structures and various organizations.”

“Overall, you have students, teachers and large organizations who base their software on the application framework beneath NetBeans and many others use the tool,” the Foundation asserted.

But it also pointed out that “NetBeans has been run by Oracle, with the majority of code contributions coming from the database giant.”

Moving the project to the Apache Software Foundation is therefore seen as a way “to expand the diversity of its various contributors and to boost the overall level of meritocracy in NetBeans.”

The Foundation seems to be betting that things can't get worse with the potential for more contributors that would come with its stewardship.

The ASF proposal therefore suggests that “Though Oracle will relinquish its control over NetBeans, individual contributors from Oracle are still expected to continue contributing to NetBeans after its administration has been relegated to Apache, together with individual contributors from other organizations, as well as self-employed individual contributors.”

Which actually sounds a bit like an attempt heading off the notion that Oracle is bailing from NetBeans and, by extension, expressing a loss of interest in all of the Java world.

However, Apache does anticipate some issues in getting current NetBeans users to work with its licences, but the learning curve shouldn't be too steep because the tool has been open source since Sun Microsystems decided to change its licence way back in year 2000.

Oracle now uses the GNU Lesser General Public License version 2.1 for the tool. The thread discussing the proposal is mostly positive towards the new concept, with much discussion considering the effort required to make Apache’s oversight work.

But one keen NetBeans developer who prefers we don't use his name said his starting point for considering the move to Apache is “Oracle's sordid history of acquiring then neglecting open source technology”.

Kate Carruthers, chief data officer at the University of New South Wales, said-- “I'm worried that anyone is still using java, to be honest. But this seems like a better option than Oracle's neglect, nevertheless.”

“I still think it’s a healthy enough project to not suffer the same fate as Apache OpenOffice, however” said open source developer and advocate Jeff Waugh. “It’s well regarded. Apache doesn’t have much of a voice for building user interfaces and products, but they do for developer tools,” he asserted.

Source: The Apache Software Foundation.

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