Java and the GPL: Too Little Too Late?

by Tom Bradford

So the other day Sun announced that Java would be released as true open source software under the terms of the GPL(v2). A few years ago, when I was developing a considerable number of my projects in Java, this would have been greatly welcomed news for both myself and other BSD users. After all, for the past several years, getting Java built and operational on our operating system has been much akin to pulling so many teeth, and the results were almost always wholly dependent on how well you crossed your fingers.

So the question now is this: What does it mean for BSD developers? We'll no doubt soon be seeing JDK binary packages and complete source trees available via ports, but after several years of incredible platform bloat and withering industry attention, do BSD developers even care about Java anymore?

Over the past year, I've spent most of my time coding system-level stuff in pure C, and it's quite obvious that other developers have latched onto other languages like Ruby. Like those ex-lovers who refused to give us back our LPs, is Java dead to us, or is there still hope for a rebirth?


2006-11-14 12:00:41
I find Java the language rather painful to use, but now that the platform is open, I mind much less using programs written in the language. Besides that, there are plenty of languages ported to the JVM that suddenly become much more interesting.
2006-11-14 13:50:52
This probably doesn't mean near so much to the individual hacker as it does to all the companies that have a significant java codebase that just gained control of their own destiny. I'm wiling to bet there is a lot of java code out there. And this is also a boon to those universities that have chosen, for right or wrong, to base their curriculum around java. Also think of all the rd dollars that have gone into the javavm. This is a great artifact to study. It seems short sighted to dismiss this just because your community doesn't use it.
2006-11-15 21:57:52
It will (hopefully) mean JVM's for BSD's on SPARC systems; something Sun has never made even the slightest pretense of offering is now an option. Some people (*cough*) have perfectly servicable UltraSPARC systems who want both FreeBSD or OpenBSD -and- a recent JVM to run funky things like Jython or JRuby.
2006-12-17 13:56:15
I doubt it will make difference. You could have always have ported the JVM to any architecture you wanted. The license was not what was preventing you from building Java on BSD.

The problem is that the JVM is one of the most complex C++ applications that you can download source code for. Porting it is hard work. The new license isn't going to make you smarter, or the problem easier.

2006-12-17 14:02:18
Also, I can't believe people want to port the JVM to a *BSD/sparc so they can run Jython or JRuby. So you want to run Python and Ruby programs more slowly than the standard Python and Ruby interpreters, and with weird compatibility bugs?

Was the license really stopping you from porting the JVM to *BSD/sparc?