[License-discuss] linking exception in OpenJDK

Thufir hawat.thufir at gmail.com
Sun Nov 15 19:59:36 UTC 2015

Bradley said that all android applications would now have to be GPL were 
Google to put Android under the GPL in the last few minutes of this podcast:

0x44: Oracle v. Google Federal Appeals Court Decision
05/13/2014 07:33 AM

When I read the wikipedia articles about OpenJDK and IcedTea, they don't 
mention this notion.

A GPL linking exception modifies the GNU General Public License (GPL) in 
a way that enables software projects which provide library code to be 
"linked to" the programs that use them, without applying the full terms 
of the GPL to the using program. Linking is the technical process of 
connecting code in a library to the using code, to produce a single 
executable file. It is performed either at compile time or run-time in 
order to produce functional machine-readable code. There is a public 
perception, unsupported by any legal precedent or citation, that without 
applying the linking exception, code linked with GPL code may only be 
done[clarification needed] using a GPL-compatible license.[1] The 
license of the GNU Classpath project explicitly includes a statement to 
that effect.


Wikipedia says that On 13 November 2006, the HotSpot JVM and the JDK 
were licensed[12] under the GPL version 2. This is the code that became 
part of Java 7 (codename Dolphin[13]).  I believe that IcedTea 
ultimately uses the HotSpot JVM, which comes from OpenJDK. In any event, 
they all have this linking exception in their license.

Two questions:

1.)  There seems no technical problem in running proprietary binaries on 
IcedTea and HotSpot in Ubuntu, which is what I use.  Is there a legal 
prohibition or problem in doing so?  I think not, because of the linking 

2.)  Were, or had, Google forked OpenJDK and IcedTea, and kept the GPL, 
would Bradley be correct in stating that all Android apps would then 
have to be licensed under the GPL?  I think not, there's a linking 
exception in the license...



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