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Java Trap, 2010 Edition (querna.org)
177 points by pquerna on Oct 12, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 96 comments

I really wish more effort was put into D... I think that's really the best path to freedom vs Java and .Net... I wish Nokia would would adopt D because nobody wants to use C++ and Python is slow...

I just saw this on twitter...


"Java has an official open source reference implementation, but is not free. C# has only unofficial open source implementations, but is free!"


"Java isn't platform independent; it is a platform. Like Windows, it is a proprietary commercial platform. That is, you can write programs for Windows/Intel or Java/JVM, and in each case you are writing code for a platform owned by a single corporation and tweaked for the commercial benefit of that corporation."

Which D, 1 or 2? I have used D for several years and know a few people that also used D for a longer period of time. Consensus is that D is dead for all practical purposes (especially D2).

Could you expand D being practically dead? or link to some sources on that? I haven't heard such strong statements about D before, and I'm curious to learn more.

Pretty much sums it up: http://h3.gd/devlog/?p=22 D1 and D2 are like different languages. D1 went to a dead end and D2 got nowhere, it got into a conundrum feedback loop. It's a bit hard to explain everything in this post since there is a lot to cover, but most of the community that is years into this is aware of all of it.

Also, good luck with any kind of support that is not in the interest/hobby of D developer. I once wrote a fairly large program that was for a commercial purpose (wrote as an order) - and I got stuck on a fairly large bug in standard library which I couldn't resolve myself because I have lacked the expertise to do so, I even think it was not open sourced then also (basically free() never returned memory to the OS). That bug is still open after several years. I offered money, anything basically to get this resolved since my application crashed due to it - if there weren't for helpful Tango guys I would have to rewrite the damn thing from scratch in another language.

D1/Tango had so much potential, but it got nowhere, unfortunately. I am still bitter I spent so much time and effort in D at all, just to return to C (and some C++).

"Which D, 1 or 2?"

D2 of course... "Consensus is that D is dead for all practical purposes (especially D2)." BS..

There is a chicken and egg situation with D... if somebody big doesn't put some backing behind it then it will go nowhere...

There is no chicken and egg situation with D anymore. It has been around for 10 years. D1 at least. D1 and D2 are different beasts.

Tomasz wrote it better than I can right now http://h3.gd/devlog/?p=22 and I respect his view because, if nothing else, he is the man that wrote the largest code base there is written in D (for his Nucleus engine and tools). Main problem, among MANY, is that people who are working on D these days are not coding in D at all, not serious projects at least - otherwise they would see fairly quickly what is wrong with it. This topic has been covered among D community by large now, you can dig up fallout of tango team from D2 and numerous sagas alike on digital mars newsgroup.

Most people will see it as C++ with a somewhat nicer syntax. That does not provide a lot of incentive to switch to D. You need more than marginal benefits to cause a huge shift.

Additionally, it doesn't help that D is torn. There used to be the Phobos/Tango split, now there is yet another split: D1/D2. The second is definitely a more serious competitor to C++, but there is no up-to-date fully open source compiler available. Digital Mars's D2 compiler has a proprietary backend, gdc (a GCC frontend) is outdated, and ldc (LLVM frontend) does not have usable D2 support.

Oh, and if you want a 64-bit D2 compiler, even proprietary, you are out in the woods (yes, work has started).

Even the average Scheme compiler is in a more usable state ;).

How a language with a proprietary reference implementation and library, namely D, could ever be a suitable solution to the Java trap? This is utter nonsense.

How a

I think the author is just taking advantage of Java's name having been drug through the mud by Oracle to push his point-of-view.

Many of Apache's projects are Java-based, and I don't seem them making any effort to port all of them over into a different language.

Though Oracle stunk up JavaOne this year, and the lawsuit against Google is making Oracle look like a supreme ass, companies like IBM, RedHat, SpringSource, and many, many others have a significant investment in Java.

Java has been and will continue to be close to the top of Paul's heap in terms of jobs for the foreseeable future:



However, I would be the first to say that if you are looking to the future, explore dynamic and functional programming languages. If I had to pick one right now, I'd lean toward Ruby, not because it is the most well adopted (and for goodness sakes, it has had enough time to be), but because the language itself is great, and it has a growing and thriving community.

But Java is not dead yet, and it is far from a trap.

I don't think that Apache would start porting existing projects, but do you think that there will be many new ones? Or how many existing projects will have any significant effort put behind them?

Imagine, if you will, that there were no Apache. What would the Java landscape look like today? If Java at Apache flounders, the platform as a whole will also diminish. Java has thrived for so long in a Microsoft dominated world thanks largely to third-party open source efforts. If a (the?) major contributor of open source code in Java goes away, which direction do you think Java will go? "Thriving community" is not how I see this turning out.

"do you think that there will be many new ones?"

Yes, I think there will continue to be some new projects, and other projects will fall off. Apache isn't the end-all be-all of Java projects, however.

Several of the larger newer projects were under SpringSource's wing, and there continue to be new projects there. And there's Codehaus. And some Java projects under GitHub, Java.net, SourceForge, etc. Then there's Groovy, Grails, and related projects. JRuby (formerly at Sun, now at EngineYard) is Ruby, but it allows some reuse of other Java projects. Android (like the author states) is a subset of Java, so all of those Android app projects. Kindle's KDK is Java. Your cable box may even run on Java.

If you've been only looking at Apache for Java growth, you've been looking in the wrong place.

"Or how many existing projects will have any significant effort put behind them?"

The Java projects at Apache have had continued effort put behind them, but some of the people that would have put effort towards Apache projects have spread out into some of the places I mentioned.

"If Java at Apache flounders, the platform as a whole will also diminish."

That's BS. If Apache fell on its ass, Java would still survive. See all of the other projects I mentioned, plus all of the current Java jobs I mentioned.

Where "Java" itself isn't the new hot thing, Java is dominant, and things using/requiring Java are hot, for example- look at this Google trends of Java vs. Android to see what I mean:


For every new JSR, there has been a new Apache project which has been, if not the de-facto reference implementation, one of the major implementations (for better or worse). I just don't see this happening in the future. There will obviously be other organizations that will take up the slack, but I honestly don't see it working as well as with Apache.

I know all about the new-hotness that are Groovy, JRuby, Closure, Scala, KDK, Android etc... This isn't a Java-the-language discussion. This is a Java the platform/JVM discussion. Oracle's actions so far have been pretty chilling for the entire platform. You can't run any of the above without the JVM, and that is what Oracle is controlling.

Java will survive for a long time, and I don't think that anyone doubts that. But for the first time in a long time there is some doubt about whether or not it is a platform to build future products on.

In my mind, Apache is the canary in the coal mine. It might take a while, but they will lose their position of dominance over this.

Then again, it's been a ~15 years, isn't the industry ready to promote something else as the new major language? We've already seen Ruby and Python strengthen their positions.

Sun always had a schizophrenic behavior in regards to open-source and the Java standard.

This is also one of those stories where the GPL (version 2) is acting in the interests of Oracle, not in the interest of the users; if only Sun released OpenJDK under Apache ... but why would they do that?

Oracle can't and won't kill the platform.

They are certainly doing harm to Java, but Oracle hasn't sued IBM yet over this and there is quite a bit Oracle would go after if it were truly intent on killing the JVM:


I don't think that anyone is questioning anyone looking into using other languages. I even suggested Ruby myself.

It might be a dark age for Oracle sponsoring Java Community Process development, but some of the JSRs have been crap. If development of new JSRs slows to a crawl, so be it. A wealth of Java, Ruby, Python, etc. projects have evolved without being attached to a bureaucratic standards committee.

All proprietary Java implementations are licensed, with the deal made behind closed-doors, especially IBM's.

All open-source Java implementations available (minus OpenJDK) are not certified, and can be sued for patents infringements (or trademark violations if they're advertised as being Java implementations).

Oracle just showed they are not shy on using their property.

From what I've understood, Sun didn't license everything to IBM (or for that matter, to others as you stated). Charles Nutter had a great post (and it has been updated) on the Oracle suit against Google where he talks about some of the wild claims that Oracle was making:


My point is that no rational company would attack its own base. Oracle had some wild claims. These will be toned down and they will come to an agreement. Things will move on.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't pay attention to Oracle's antics (even though I just consider Oracle a whining child at this point), but I think this whole thing is overblown.

This is not trolling. I honestly ask: why is TCK important? How does it prevent Apache Harmony from ever shipping a "real release"? After all, before OpenJDK, GCJ and lots of other free Java implementations released fine without TCK.

the problem is that Sun/Oracles patent license only covers implementations that passed TCK.

Conversely, by not passing TCK you don't get their patent license. Many of the patents in question are difficult (if even possible) to work around if you were to create your alternate implementation.

This means that using any non TCK implementation of Java makes you liable for patent lawsuits (as seen with the Google case).

Ah, so anyone using GCJ in a product could be sued the same way Google was sued. I didn't know that.

The right conclusion to make seems to be that software patents are bad.

    > Ah, so anyone using GCJ in a product could 
    > be sued the same way Google was sued. I 
    > didn't know that.
this is exactly the point. And this might also be (one of) the reason(s) why Google PR is calling the suit against them a suit against Open Source in itself.

The other conclusion would be that Sun, and now Oracle, are schizophrenic hypocrites: let's not blame it solely on software patents.

I believe the GCJ is vulnerable because, like Dalvik, it's not derived from the OpenJDK.

Well, not being VM based it should be free of some or all of the patents used by Oracle in that part of its lawsuit against Dalvik, but that doesn't mean that it wouldn't be otherwise vulnerable.

And don't forget OpenJDK derivatives are only patent-proof for patents owned by Sun at the time of its licensing.

> the problem is that Sun/Oracles patent license only covers implementations that passed TCK.

Can they do that, being the OpenJDK GPL-licensed? IIRC, it shields the OpenJDK, as well as GPL-licensed derivatives, from patent lawsuits.

It doesn't protect Apache/MIT/BSD-licensed implementations, but who cares, if there is a GPL-licensed implementation available?

you are right, derivates of OpenJDK are shielded.

Clean-room reimplementation are not though.

Harmony was created to have a non-GPL implementation (and was used by Google for that reason)

If, for no other reason, we should love the GPL for rendering Oracle toothless. :-)

unless they don't TCK certify OpenJDK 7. Then we're back at square one.

No. As long as it's OpenJDK-derived and GPL-licensed, all JDK 7 features can be added.

No. Only features that don't infringe additional patents can be added by the community. If Oracle owns patents covering a particular Java 7 feature, but never releases any GPL code implementing that feature, then the OpenJDK community cannot implement that feature.

Releasing code under the GPL does not give the open source community carte blanche access to all your future patents, perhaps unless those patents are necessarily infringed by the original GPL release.

Indeed. The GPL protection only covers OpenJDK as it is released now. However, Oracle would have to tailor the features in JDK 7 as to be under patents they own or licensed, but that are not used in OpenJDK.

And the OpenJDK folks can always implement around those patents.

"After all, before OpenJDK, GCJ and lots of other free Java implementations released fine without TCK."

GCJ is old... and OpenJDK does have access to the TCK IIRC...

> OpenJDK does have access to the TCK

Of course it does, access to the TCK was always at Sun's discretion to give.

OpenJDK doesn't matter, Java is not free to be implemented by open-source projects (even though JSR 270 explicitly says so) because the TCK licensing prohibits it.

It is also irrelevant if GCJ is old, patents don't have a "use it or you'll lose it" clause as trademarks do.

GCJ is old, but is there any other implementation that can compile to native code? (Mainly good for simplifying distribution and better interfacing with native code instead of JNI.)

If I recall correctly, GCJ's `compiling to native code' really means `slapping a bytecode interpreter and your bytecode in the same file, and calling it an executable'.

This is not correct at all. It generates actual native code from Java source files or byte-code.

Excelsior JET... is an AOT compiler...


It is licensed...

I would also add the question: If I'm running Java on the server to deliver Web services, who cares? It's still open source, I have no plans to distribute MyPersonalVM that can run Java.

Google is the one that wants to keep it's advertisement machine going. It matters to them that over the next few years an open and mobile competitor is around. It doesn't matter to me.

The author pointed out that Sun/Oracle's posture is not resulting in as healthy an ecosystem as other languages with multiple independent free implementations.

"These multiple implementations of the languages are creating innovation on their respective platforms."

He also criticized the JVM.

"not resulting in as healthy an ecosystem"

No ecosystem? Clojure, Lucene/Solr, Cassandra, Groovy, Hadoop to name a few are all part of this excellent ecosystem.

Edit: There's some serious group think in HN. It seems any kind of alternate opinion gets immediately down modded. You may disagree with my opinion, but it is a valid and relevant opinion: Is all this lawsuit crap between the MegaCorps relevant to the average developer using Java for services?

I think he meant an ecosystem of differing implementation. When .NET actually looks more open than your platform, I think you need to rethink what you are doing. What people here are asking for is something similar to Mono, a complete reimplementation of the platform and language that is legally available.

And I agree that java has a large ecosystem built on top of it, making it even more important that the underlying stuff doesn't get controlled by one person.

Funny you mentioned 2 projects under the stewardship of the Apache Foundation, the same organization whom Sun proper fucked by first not releasing the TCK under reasonable terms, and second by releasing OpenJDK under a license incompatible with Harmony and too restrictive to be of any use to mobile phone manufacturers, but not restrictive enough to protect derivate works (GPLv3 was already released and the Apache license has a much stronger patents clause).

Here's some context: http://www.apache.org/jcp/sunopenletter.html

Also, all these language implementations are symptoms of a larger problem, can you guess which?

Yea I can guess, that Java the language sucks.

I'm just saying all these articles about the death or lameness of the JVM are not covering the big picture.

The JVM will be alive and well, but these developments and the fact that the JCP process is a joke are hurting the community a lot.

If the average developer would prefer to develop for Android rather than Java ME, I think it is indeed relevant.

To you it is very relevant. I'm just saying let's clarify who has a dog in this fight.

Believe it or not, I'm using Solr, Groovy and Clojure and in my eyes the (approved || sanctioned || blessed) JVM has never a better platform.

OK, you're a happy Clojure user (I'm not familiar with Groovy and haven't heard of Solr). Clojure is very functional and I expect idiomatic memory usage patterns are different than those of Java and other imperative OO languages.

Oracle's patent lawsuit against the Dalvik VM has cast a cloud on deep innovations in JVMs, such as GC implementations tuned for Clojure.

Is there going to be a long term problem? Who knows, who can say? All we know is that Oracle's lawyers were eager to sue Google whereas "patent suits [were] never in Sun's genetic code" (http://nighthacks.com/roller/jag/entry/the_shit_finally_hits...); what follows will depend on how that goes and who knows what else.

At the very least I'm pretty sure this is having a chilling effect. If you have various areas in which you can do things, why do deep JVM innovation. E.g. for Clojure, perhaps Clojure-in-Clojure targeting another platform, most especially x86_64? (This is not idle speculation, BTW.)

I don't disagree with anything you said.

I'm just saying the sky isn't falling for the average developer that is using the JVM. We'll all be using XYZ technology, which hasn't been invented yet, in 3-5 years anyway.

Google is the one with the short term vested interest in distributing a VM that runs Java.

Google's Dalvik (VM) does not run Java.

The Android _SDK_ is Java based. The Android apps are written in Java, the language, compiled into Java bytecode (Java class files) and the class files are converted into single dex file, which is custom instruction set. Then the app is moved onto the device and run.

The Android runtime is neither Java, nor JVM. It is custom (proprietary) VM that happens to use library that is API compatible with Java's standard library (Apache Harmony compiled and converted to dex; again, no java bytecode in sight).

Didn't Stallman write an update to his original?

It's really hard to miss, right under the title, in big bold type:


I was browsing Wikipedia's list of Java implementations recently, so I was wondering in what way the Java Trap still exists, as now you can find dozens of both proprietary and open implementations.


The read from the Oracle lawsuit is that using any of those will get you sued.

I've read many arguments about how Dalvik is 'different' and some or all of these are 'safe' and so on, but the reality is that 'safe' is whatever Oracle decides it is.

The read from the Oracle lawsuit is that using any of those will get you sued.

Wait - what users of non-Oracle/Sun JVM implementations have been sued by Oracle?

Oracle sued Google as the maker of a non-licensed (and supposedly copyright infringing) Java Virtual Machine. To my knowledge, no one has been sued for merely using a non-Oracle JVM, have they?

Lets say you're writing C. You're going along your merry way and all is well. Except that one day, your code doesn't do what you want it to do. Well, every day. But, this day is special. Today, your code isn't working because of a compiler bug, not because of a bug in your code.

Now, you can either ignore the bug, and hope that it gets fixed. You can work around it. You can use a different C compiler that may not have the bug. Or, you can fix the bug yourself.

Now, lets say instead of C, you're writing Java. Given the situation that Oracle seems to be attempting to make, the first situation won't get you sued, but it will leave you will a bug. The second choice is the best option. But, the bug still needs to be fixed at some point. The third choice might not be possible, because Oracle will have sued everyone else who has a JVM implementation and forced them to stop making an alternative, leaving you with the buggy Oracle/Sun JVM. And the last choice will get you sued.

And, to be frank, three of these four choices suck, and the remaining one isn't a joy to work with either.

OpenJDK is not a dead end - you can extend it and correct any bugs that are a problem to you.

IcedTea for example, unlike Dalvik, has passed the TCK, which from my understanding makes it Oracle-approved. I don't really understand how this whole thing works, so I might be wrong.

IcedTea is a OpenJDK fork, its major purpose was to replace those parts of the the JDK that Sun just couldn't open source (e.g. because they were based on licensed code that Sun couldn't make arrangements for).

It was Sun approved, and I see no reason Oracle would change that unless they want to fsck with OpenJDK in general. But, again, who knows? Oracle is the new Java steward and their polices, so far some good, some bad, are demonstrably different than Sun's were.

Sun licensed OpenJDK under the GPL. With that, it waived any right to sue its users for violation of any patent it held. Oracle bought that obligation with the rest of Sun and can't change the terms under which it is distributed - because anyone can redistribute it under the original terms.

From http://openjdk.java.net/legal/gplv2+ce.html

"6. Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein."


"7. (...) For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program"

However the license isn't valid in a case like this unless it passes the TCK, right? And as we saw with Harmony, Sun and now Oracle is quite willing to withhold the TCK and therefore refuse a license.

How this plays out with OpenJDK and its derivatives I don't know; I'd assume they couldn't do anything for Java 6 (and I don't want to borrow trouble), but couldn't they e.g. in theory refuse access to the Java 7 TCK, resulting in a freezing of the GPLed version?

Anyway, my point here is that their GPL license of their technology is a much more restricted use of the license than we're used to.

However the license isn't valid in a case like this unless it passes the TCK, right?

No, that is not correct. The OpenJDK license is the GNU GPL plus a liberalizing exception for the Classpath. Possessors of the GPLed JDK are permitted to make and distribute modified versions without passing the TCK.

> However the license isn't valid in a case like this unless it passes the TCK, right?

No. Since it's licensed under GPL, it's completely Oracle-proof. The license is valid regardless TCK compliance.

> How this plays out with OpenJDK and its derivatives I don't know

Any derivative is also covered by the same license.

> refuse access to the Java 7 TCK, resulting in a freezing of the GPLed version?

OpenJDK can gain any features present in JDK 7. As long as it's derived, Oracle can do nothing about it. What may get you in trouble is calling it Java without passing the TCK. I am happy with changing JDK and JVM to "Just-Like-Their Development Kit" and "Just-Like-Their VM".

It will be funny if, in the end, it's Stallman who makes Oracle into a civilized corporate citizen.

Let's say we buy into the Java Trap Hypothesis; the question then is: what's next? What do you choose if you're a corporation with large projects and large teams of mostly non-rockstar developers. For the sake of the argument let's assume the JVM is out, and you can't use .Net (e.g. need Linux, or more flexible licensing, etc). I'm curious what people would choose, if given a clean slate for this kind of situation.

Haskell. Faster than java, easier than java, safer than java. And it even has a centralized repository of libraries.

For Linux there is Mono for Linux and it has a pretty liberal license, a mix of MIT/X11, LGPL, GPL and MPL[1].

[1] http://mono-project.com/License

C? C++? (Or are you seriously suggesting that the average Java programmer is too feeble-minded to learn how malloc/free or new/delete work?)

Python is a great choice too, provided you don't mind about performance (which is true in the majority of applications).

I agree with the article and use truly free dev tools whenever possible, but for some there is no choice because of the platform they have chosen to target. If you decided to do Android apps, you'll probably use Java for 90% (or more) of the work.

...and that's exactly the point. Oracle is suing Google, complaining that they are violating Oracle patents by running Dalvik on Android. Perhaps they'll win, and every app written in Java for Android will become useless.[1]

[1] - Note: not a realistic possibility. Someone would pay a billion dollar ransom instead. But the fact that the threat is out there, regardless how how credible it is, shows the problem.[2]

[2] - Note: the problem in this case is NOT due to non-free implementations: no one questions whether Dalvik is sufficiently free. The problem in this case is software patents. The only proper fix for that is to change the law. Please call your congresscritter.

The other possible fix would be for a Java/Android related alliance to get formed by companies with relevant patent portfolios and sue the crap out of Oracle.

Given their extensive patent portfolio IBM would have had some hope in fighting a fight like that. I don't know that there are many others that have an interest and enough to fight with.

Unfortunately, IBM has sold out to Oracle. Why is that not surprising?

I think "sold out" is way too harsh. I suspect ' more like they got tired of waiting for something that went from "doesn't look like it's going to happen" (but probably realized only after they'd put a fair amount of work into it) into "it will be a cold day in hell...".

Sun demanded a mobile usage restriction. Oracle is suing a company that for technical and no doubt monetary reasons went around this restriction. Oracle now can't make up with Apache without undercutting their lawsuit, even if they were so inclined, which strikes me as unlikely.

Half (or more?) of Apache's contributors are IBM employees. For example: http://harmony.apache.org/contributors.html

Why does anything need to be run the TCK? Why does anything need to use the name Java? Isn't this more of a people problem then a licence problem? Am I really to believe that if someone doesn't have access to Oracle's magical testing kit then it's impossible to make something that runs java source code? Isn't it more just a corporate perception problem? Who cares?

Well, that's what Google thought...after they spend a few million dollars in attorney's fees, we'll see if they were right.

I agree with the article, but I'm also starting to not see why Oracle even cares about Java anymore. There are enough fantastic free / open source products available that if you told an investor you were starting a company to build J2EE infrastructure, they'd probably laugh you out of the room. At this point the only reason to use a commercial J2EE platform is either lock-in (it'd be too much time to move to open source) or for some corporate reason (support, big name, impressive, etc). In what other ways can Oracle monetize the Java platform at this point?

De facto, if Oracle/Sun refuses to TCK any independent implementation of Java SE, while tolerating their implementation under open source license, then there is ground for anti-trust action.

The argument being that 3rd parties have no means to validate their implementation. Hence, there is no practical way to implement Java SE independently.

Considering the dominant position of Oracle/Sun, we can't exclude the possibility that the European Commission will start a new anti-trust investigation against Oracle/Sun.

What is not clear in the article is that languages and platforms are almost completely orthogonal in most cases. If we are speaking about the Java platform lock-in, languages are irrelevant, because I can use this platform from multiple languages. Even if I use Python, I can be locked into the Java platform because I call existing Java classes (using Jython). Also, for example whether Java the language is good or bad is irrelevant, because I can use Scala to compile to the Java platform, which is the best programming language I have ever seen (for my taste at least). I can also choose to target the .NET platform from Scala.

So Java platform lock-in can be a problem, I understand. But this seems to be totally orthogonal to the topic of from wich programming languages to which platforms you can compile. These different issues are somehow mixed in the article I think.

The article’s argument is this: If you write your code in Python targeting Jython and the JVM, and the Java platform becomes unusable, there’s still a lot of your code that can be easily ported to run in CPython or IronPython or PyPy or something. If you write your code in Java and the platform becomes unusable and Oracle decides to squish alternative Java platforms, then you’re stuffed.

Ok, so the problem is that Java the language supports only one target platform. This is not completely true, I don't know too much about about J#, but as far as I know using J# basically you can compile your program written with Java syntax to .NET.

J# is capped: the last version was shipped in 2007, it is supported by VS 2005 (now superseded by two newer versions) and support will end in 5 years.

And even that was quite an old version of the language--1.2, I think.

Mono is able to run Java code side-by-side with .NET as well as having Java and .NET object interoperate with each other. This is done with IKVM (http://www.ikvm.net) the Java VM implementation that runs on top of .NET and Mono.

From http://mono-project.com/Java

I don't see how this could be true. What makes Java the Language so special that it can only be compiled into JVM bytecode and not something else?

You've got a point, however Java and its supporting standard libraries are very tightly bound. The question here would be why are you writing your code in Jython? If it's to get access to those libraries or other code written in Java, then you're just as screwed.

I’m not a Java/JVM expert, I’m just trying to state the article’s argument as I understand it. I think the claim is that the legal issues (patents) w/ Oracle make Java the language harder to compile to something else. There doesn’t seem to be any overwhelming technical reason.

JNI minimizes the Java trap, since your entire program doesn't need to live in the JVM. Other functionality can be implemented in native code, and it will work with Java just fine. Oracle does not control native code, so they don't control what platform you target in the future. JNI is not a panacea - your code still runs on Oracle's JVM. But it provides an escape route, since pieces of your application can be ported away from the JVM without requiring an entire rewrite.

If you've reached this escape point, yes, you're wasting time by porting your application away from Java. But you knew Java is a closed platform owned by one company, and you took that risk.

Even more importantly, you can start the JVM from C code -- indeed 'java' is nothing more than a simple wrapper around the necesarry DLL calls.

Ok. From my limited understanding of the FAQ. Sun agreed to release the TCKs without "field of use" restrictions when they entered the community process? But they failed to meet that obligation with the JavaSE TCK? Isn't there some legal structure to force Sun/Oracle to meet that obligation?

With the JavaSE TCK for the Apache Harmony project.

There may be a legal structure to address that, but for anyone who depends on the good will of Sun, now Oracle, which probably includes IBM, it certainly wouldn't have been practical.

Summary: "I don't agree that users deserve freedom, but if someone takes away my freedom, then its wrong."

I'd love to hear his reasoning for disagreeing with RMS's ideal of user freedom.

A BSD license gives the user near absolute freedom to do what one wishes with a piece of source code -- they can sell it, modify and make proprietary, integrate with existing proprietary licensed projects, etc.

On the other hand, the GPL imposes heavy restrictions on what a user can do with a software's source code in order to preserve other users' freedoms.

That's the fundamental split in permissive licenses vs copyleft licenses. It has been argued to death and the author probably (correctly) assumed that most readers are already familiar with it.

Once they distribute it, they are not just users anymore. The people who receive it are the priority with GPL. The major difference with the GPL is that the user is king.

Was there not news yesterday that IBM and oracle are going to work together on Open JDK?

At the multinational I work at, we recently upgraded to Java 1.5. By the time we have to upgrade to Java 1.7, I expect this little storm-in-a-teacup to be well and truly forgotten.

The article is FUD. Java is too important to too many people to not be around any time soon. Also, there's a GPL'd release and IBM's Java.

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