There have been many changes ever since Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems nearly three years ago. Back in August, Oracle retired the “Operating System Distributor License for Java,” meaning companies are no longer allowed to make the package available for distribution. Now Canonical, the company that runs the Ubuntu Linux project, has disabled the Oracle JDK browser plugin on all Ubuntu machines and will soon remove the packages from the archives.
The company states that disabling the plugin will help improve security because there are many exploits in the wild that will affect the software. While this is true, the real question is whether users want a third party disabling software that is running on their systems. While the removal isn’t exactly automatic, it’s close: “The Sun JDK will be removed from all users machines when they do a software update.” Apple and Google have already used similar functionality to remove questionable software installed on phones and tablets, but most people view a PC, and especially UNIX-based systems, differently.
When the Oracle JDK (previously Sun JDK) was deprecated back in August, it signaled the fact that OpenJDK was the new standard and is in fact installed by default on Ubuntu as well as other operating systems. Overall this will be a good thing for the OSS community; we just question whether Ubuntu is making any friends with its forcible disabling of already-installed versions of the previous software.