Java GPLed.

by Robert Cooper

Well, Tim waited a whole 10 minutes to get his post up.

The rest of the story today is HotSpot and JavaC are getting released now. Early next year Sun expects to have a fully buildable JDK available. The response to everyone's question: Why? Because Sun hopes the GPL will drive adoption, and I think that is a pretty safe bet. It will be nice to see a real JDK and Glassfish show up in the more purist Linux distros. The thing I can't help but think, though, is this is the biggest boon to RedHat, who now gets to put all of their top-shelf products into Fedora again -- lets face it, the LDAP server is nice, but JBoss is better.

It will be offered under multiple licenses, which means the contributor agreement hell is still there. It also means that Sun can't scrape (L)GPL code of the interwebs and bundle it with the JRE, which is still kind of a shame. I do agree with Tim, though. I expect forks, but not "serious" forks. As I mentioned in the previous post, I think there is a serious opportunity here for aftermarket JRE's with things like jSDL and libLAME/Tritonous, possibly even things like GCJ -- which will surely get a huge boost from this as they can now start cannibalizing the core code -- and SWT built it.

One thing I think Sun is going to find with the GPL -- like QT before it -- is it is never going to get the "stink" off of Java with large swaths of the Linux community. Much like *cough* certain political pundits, they have spent so many years talking about Java in particular tones, they are never going to bring themselves to admit that their issues have been addressed. On the other side of the fence, the "viral" FUD on the GPL is going to get dialed up a notch. In short, I don't expect Sun to win too many friends with this move in the short term. I do think it is a good move for the long term health of the platform though.

5 Comments

Carla Schroder
2006-11-13 10:19:35
Hurrah for Sun. My 'stink' with Java is Java apps are slow and obnoxious, and cross-platform apps suffer constraints in both appearance and function, and having to hassle with installing obese JREs on everything is a real PITA. Devs love Java- users want it to go away. Maybe GPL-ing it will make it better. But I'm not removing my "Fie on Java" bumper sticker just yet.
cooper
2006-11-13 10:45:24
See, I just don't buy that at all, to be honest. I use scads of Java desktop apps on a daily basis -- from dev tools to Azureus and never have a problem with them being slow or obnoxious.


I think the "constraints" in cross platform appearance is frankly a canard. Yeah, there is a real problem with Java apps being "ugly" but I think it ends there. I know all the Swing gurus have demos of great looking Java apps like Aerith, the problem is it is still way too hard to get that kind of result. However, I think the focus on "native" LAF is a bad idea. You are never going to make people happy. Moreoever, unless the app is from Microsoft, very few apps "look" like a "Windows" app. You use a XUL app, it looks like a XUL app. You use an Adobe app, it looks like an Adobe at. You use iTunes, it looks like iTunes. The problem with Java is Java Apps generally look like Java apps, and Java apps look bad. The whole thing about SWT "looking native" is crap. I use SWT apps all the time on many platforms and they "look" like SWT apps, not an Apple app or a Microsoft app. The thing is SWT looks *better* than Metal, so people respond more favorably to it.


anjan bacchu
2006-11-13 11:23:48
cooper,


you're right on about SWT being better than metal!


"In short, I don't expect Sun to win too many friends with this move in the short term." -- what makes you think that sun won't win friends from this move ?


I'm thinking that sun should have center page ads in NYT like Firefox did to make it popular so that people around the world will know about this move. Sun needs more people (not only jon, green) but more people engaging the world into seeing how they(world) can work with sun on java.


BR,
~A

cooper
2006-11-13 12:00:43
"In short, I don't expect Sun to win too many friends with this move in the short term." -- what makes you think that sun won't win friends from this move ?

Well the people that will pipe up an say "Java Sucks" or "Sun Sucks" aren't going to change their mind. Moreover, the open source zealots have a self-feeding worldview that doesn't change. Just because Java is open source now, they can't shift the concept from "We hate Java because it is not open source" to "We love Java". Hell, Java is still light years better than Mono, but that Stuart Smalley affirmations they have been chanting for years aren't going to be undone.


I'm thinking that sun should have center page ads in NYT like Firefox did to make it popular so that people around the world will know about this move. Sun needs more people (not only jon, green) but more people engaging the world into seeing how they(world) can work with sun on java.


I think that kind of misses it though. It's not as though the proverbial "my mom" can see an ad in the NYT and go "I will go download and use Java!" "Mom" can say that about Firefox. Java, not so much. Selling Java is about selling to developers, and I think outside of the people that already have a set opinion of this or that technology, the fact that you can go to CompUSA and see a total of 2 boxed applications written in Java is a bigger problem.


I am not saying GPLing Java is bad or even neutral. It is a good thing and it will be a boon to the platform and the community, but I don't think it is nearly as earth shattering as it is being played.

Chris Adamson
2006-11-13 13:29:44
Here here on appearance comments, Cooper. Thanks for that. On the Mac, even Apple can't be trusted to maintain a consistent appearance (one Agua look for basic apps like Mail, the brushed-metal look for iApps, and a totally different look for the the pro media apps like Final Cut and Soundtrack, etc.). As you point out, XUL is its own non-native thing (I realized this when I discovered that editing text areas in Firefox doesn't pick up spell-check like a native text area would), etc. If native appearance were the only problem with Swing, SWT would have won by now and we'd have Java desktop apps out the butt. Instead, we have web apps out the butt, which have no visual or interface consistency whatsoever. For my money, device and multimedia libraries would get desktop Java a lot further than bitching and whining about pixel-accurate Vista mimicry.