Everybody has now heard about Harmony (if you haven’t, here are the proposal, FAQ, and friendly noises from Sun). Suppose they pull it off, and that there’s an OSS J2SE that anyone can download, build, and change. Why is this a good thing? If you’re a member of the Free Software movement, the project is its own reward for reasons of pure ideology having nothing to do with technology, engineering, or business. I’m not among the faithful, but I’ve nothing against ’em. How about for the rest of us; are there any actually any practical real-world advantages? I’d think the most obvious win would be around patching and bug-fixing. In my experience, OSS software gets bugfixed quicker and better. On the other hand, the Harmonians plan to achieve compatibility by passing the TCK test suite, which everyone says is tough and time-consuming; quite likely, more time-consuming than most individual pieces of bug-fixing. So that might get in the way of the kind of patching responsiveness we’ve gotten used to in OSS-land. [By the way, is it publicly known how long the J2SE TCK actually takes to run? I’ve never seen that published.] I guess you could apply patches without doing a “release” and run an un-TCK’ed J2SE on an interim basis. That might make some people nervous; it would make me nervous. In fact I think the rules say you can’t call it Java unless it’s TCK’d, so I guess we need a new name; I propose “JINJ”. Whatever; whether or not you really think Harmony is worth doing, you have to like people who are hurling themselves at big tough problems, and not in the interests of getting rich. Plus, they’re doing it at Apache, my own favorite OSS nexus. My hat’s off to them.