Improving Java for Linux

Nelson Minar nelson at
Wed Nov 5 12:22:18 PST 1997

Paul Michael Reilly <pmr at> says:
>This is a sad state of affairs, IMHO, for Java/Linux hacking.

I agree entirely. I almost switched to Windows a few months ago
because all my research now relies on Java programming. I didn't
switch because even if the JVM is fantastic, Windows still does suck.

>The thing that is really, truly, and sadly missing is a highly
>interactive effort, in the best Linux tradition, towards generating
>tools that allow the general community to dig into encountered
>problems (at the source level) so that we can offer up fixes, making
>life easier for everyone.

I agree that this is the problem - we can't do the free software thing
with Java because the existing Java code is not free. But I don't
think the fault is with the Blackdown folks, or the kaffe folks, or
anyone else who's been working hard on Java for Linux. The problem is
with Java's licensing terms. We can't touch the source code.

(An aside - *why* doesn't Sun lift some of the license restrictions on
the VM? It's not like their VM is high quality or particularly fancy.
If they really want to beat Microsoft, it'd help if they gave us well
meaning hackers the access we need to improve Java on Unix.)

>I certainly am ready to take the plunge and attempt to help remedy
>this situation. My goals are to have robust, reliable, bleeding edge,
>Free, Java tools for Java application development, with many, many
>hackers contributing to the process.

That's kind of you. But my own feeling is that trying to write a new
VM right now is not worth the effort. Maybe working on kaffe to
improve it will be, since kaffe is fairly far along already. But Java
is moving very fast - Java 1.1 is a major change over 1.0, and 1.2 is
going to be another big increment. Only Microsoft has the resources to
keep up with Sun. Free software is not at its best playing catchup.

>I'm anxious to embrace Cygnus' Java/GCC efforts, but so far these have
>been vaporware as near as I can tell.

I think they're farther along than that - it looks to me from the
outside that Cygnus is quite committed to improving the Java situation
for Unix. Between gcc and kaffe they have quite a base, and I have
heard rumours they've got some code working. But we haven't heard much
from them, so it's hard to know how far along they are.

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