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There Are Many Ways to Skin (or "Free") the Java Cat
There Are Many Ways to Skin (or "Free") the Java Cat

(July 24, 2003) - Here we go again. Javaland is about to witness one of its periodical eruptions. This time the catalyst is one Gerald Bauer.

Bauer, known in SVG circles for his work as project lead of Luxor XUL - a free, open-source XML User Interface Language (XUL) toolkit in Java released, under the GNU GPL - is the driving force behind a brand new Web site, Viva, dedicated to what he calls "Operation Java Freedom."

The simplest way to give you the flavor of Bauer's Viva is to let it speak for itself. "Viva aims to give you a quick overview of the state of open source Java," Bauer says on its homepage, "and uncover and clarify Sun's open source Java stand."

The site includes ("for now," Bauer notes) a directory listing open source Java runtimes, compilers, core libraries, test suites, FAQs, UI toolkits, and more. There is another directory listing dozens of open source Java runtimes from the research community and a link directory about open source basics and about Sun's official open source PR output. (Or "propaganda," as Bauer labels it.)

It is this kind of tone that will maybe cost the site some credibility. Bauer's centerpiece, for example, is a "Call to action" to pressure Sun to open-source the Java core and to help secure the future of Java as an open royalty-free standard. The actions called for include things like "Boycott Sun's closed-source Swing UI toolkit and use open-source UI toolkits instead;" or "Boycott the Java 1.4 java.util.logging package and use the better log4j package instead."

One developer has already wondered out loud "Why?"

"I don't see the need," says Amir Brown, "to turn what you use for logging into a boycott issue. I can see boycotting companies that violate the human rights of their workers, but boycott an API? How will java.util.logger know it's being boycotted? Am I boycotting log4j when I don't use it? Am I boycotting hibernate when I use iBatis or vice versa? This is absurd."

"I enjoy open source Java," Brown continues, "and as the lone developer at my company I see vast benefits from the frameworks and APIs I use from Jakarta, Open Symphony, and many others. I do not, however, feel some inherent moral superiority or zeal because I am not paying for the software. I feel grateful and appreciative. I feel the same gratefulness toward and appreciation for the code and libraries I use from Sun."

In other words, Brown resists the inherent polarization that an approach such as Bauer's fosters.

Java developer Robert Devi on the other hand is pretty much all in favor of open-sourcing Java, pointing out that "If Java were open source, Sun doesn't have to give up control. It could become the standards body - like the open group. The Open Group only certifies an OS as being Unix if it passes certain compatibility tests and the sponsor guarantees that, if it were to accidentally break compatibility, it has to become compatible again within a certain period of time."

"Using this model," Devi continues, "only Sun-certified Java can call itself Java. It would have to call itself J*va or Cafe or Mocha or Jakarta or something else. It couldn't mislead people into thinking that it passed the compliance tests; the most it could say is that they take compliance seriously."

"That's why Tomcat is so popular," adds Devi. "It takes J2EE compatibility seriously."

Turning to the question of what benefits Sun would derive from open-sourcing Java, Devi points out that "it could reduce its development costs... and increase its certification," both of which measures would drive revenue for Sun.

"If Sun licensed Java under a dual Open Source/Sun Shared Source license similar to the way TrollTech licenses Qt and MySQL AB licenses MySQL, it could also license Java for proprietary use (which gives Sun money).

Devi observes that open source projects tend to get more word-of-mouth advertising and tend to adapt to more unusual environments that aren't normally profitable to enter. "For instance, Linux was ported to the IBM mainframe because someone saw it as a challenge," he explains. "It sounded like a joke, but that joke is making IBM a lot of money."

Devi feels that his suggestion would increase the number of different markets that Java could be used in, which would in turn increase Sun's certification revenues and proprietary licensing revenue.

JDJ News Desk will await with interest to see which approach works best in the future, Bauer's belligerence, Brown's appreciativeness, or Devi's sober, rational approach.

Is it time to open-source Java? Let us know what you think.

About Jeremy Geelan
Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 2

I agree with Mr Evident comment "I don't get it"
I think everybody is arguing weather the glass is half empty or half full? Well, look what is in the glass and it?s JAVA and it run?s too dam sloooooooow. Also, when Bill Gates drops the JVM from his next OS will the next generation user bother to load the JVM or will JAVA just slowly die?

I am working on one of the products you are trying to boycott, and for one of the companies you are attacking, and I can tell you that to me what you write on the website, Gerald, is extremely insulting. Imagine yourself trying to honestly do a good and open job and someone accusing you of very nasty things. It is very hard to defend against accusations of evil intents, as there is no objective prove whether they are good or bad. And I can tell you, that mine are indeed good, and that I or the company I work for ain't evil. But, of course, what value does this statement have to anyone...

"Go easy on the insults?" That's pretty rich, coming from a troll like you.

Just to let you know that I'm human too so please go easy with the insults and try to stay on topic.

It in unfortunate that you are giving such publicity to someone who is well known for using the open source movement to pursue a personal vendetta against SUN. Gerald Bauer has indeed be banned from Java.net for rude comments and sexist remarks. As an evidence, here is the thread that has caused Gerald Bauer's exclusion:

http://www.javadesktop.org/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=64&tstart=0

Gerald Bauer has tried to damage the Java.net initiative by continuing posting to Java.net under false identities. After having been identified, his posts have been deleted and he has tried to manipulate the JavaLobby members to make them believe that SUN was censoring regular participants. Here is the JavaLobby thread:

http://www.javalobby.org/thread.jsp?forum=17&thread=8333

It is to be hoped that next time, you are going to be more careful and not give echo to initiatives that are for sure not launched with the proper interest of the community in mind, but by people full of anger against SUN.

Infact this whole OSS idea is pretty dumb. Work hard and give away everything so some one else can make a profit out of your sweat and blood. Not only that, by giving away your stuff for free, you are helping greedy companies lay off their employees that are working on similar projects.

So, closed source should be the way to
go? And probably we should ban any OSS activity.
From what I saw, the closed source projects find comfort in guaranteed privacy/conficentiality and copyright.
The quality of all closed proprietary solutions I saw is way below average of that in
open source projects. But I don't want to persuade you or anyone in anything. Too late. But even at the beginning it was a matter of personal preferences. Someone loves free beer, and someone searches for freedom of speech.

Going back to viva.sourceforge.net, I don't see anything interesting on that site. It's even can harm the community.
But for me, it brought an association:
didn't you feel in the last years that the Java could develop *little* quicker, and by creative developers / architects and not marketing people?

Regards

WHY do we allow this magasine to write such trash.

They cannot fill a magasine a month with Java technology instead of low class little talk ?

You guys running short on useful stories? This moron is just out to bring attention to himself, and is hurting the Java and OSS communities while doing it. There is room for both Java under the JCP and OSS, things are working really well as they are.

This guy is so stupid. Infact this whole OSS idea is pretty dumb. Work hard and give away everything so some one else can make a profit out of your sweat and blood. Not only that, by giving away your stuff for free, you are helping greedy companies lay off their employees that are working on similar projects.

it looks like sun is determined to kill java...

This troll does not deserve this type of publicity.

And as for his "project," Luxor, how many people actually use it? My guess is very few.

And his vendetta against Sun began when he was kicked off of java.net for being a complete ass, after someone chastised him for this immature piece of trash he wrote:

http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/forum.php?thread_id=2558219&forum_id=...

OK, so the tone is a bit rabid. (Hopefully tongue-in-cheek rabid...)

But if it brings any leverage to bear on Sun to open up Java, or at least clean up some of the messes in the JDK I'm all for it.

(I've got nothing against the language itself, but some of the package implementations are vile. Parts of Swing leap to mind...)

It never ceases to amaze me how many cultured, intelligent and otherwise able people actually use Java, when any application made with Java can work 100 (or more) times better in any other language.

While I personally find Viva to be a tad retarded - especially the tone - I think this was something that deserved to be looked at, simply because it's someone drawing a line in the sand for an open source java effort. That isn't a new topic, but this approach is. If you don't want to read about it, you don't have to.


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