Improving Java for Linux

John D. Gwinner gwinner at
Wed Nov 5 03:56:41 PST 1997


> (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 don't know -- they are being particularly stupid. Microsoft gives me
their Java VM and lets me distribute it under certain conditions -- pretty
easily.  However, this VM isn't something that Sun likes.  So why doesn't
JavaSoft give me a VM to embed in my product?  Frustrating.  They are
driving me toward MS.

However, the new JNI may offer a break on the licensing issues.  At one
time, Sun was pretty adamant about wanting $250,000 annually to include
the VM in my application, as opposed to writing my application IN Java. 
(NOTE: this was from a publicly available web page posted over a year ago,
so I'm not breaking my non-disclosure agreement, if any lawyers or Sun is
on the list :-)

It's absurd for a shareware program, or any PC game to even consider such
a licensing cost.  So Id software invented "Quake C".  I'd be willing to
bet that a fair proportion of PC 'hacker types' know Quake C.  It could
have been Java!  Except that the licensing issues are absurd, at least for
the profit margin that PC Games run on.

(Note: I don't build games, but 3D interfaces for CompuServe under
contract -- alas, 100% royalties but no development funds)

Now, it's possible that this has changed; the JNI is now a public
specification, and when I originally opened discussions with Sun to
include the VM, they were pretty adamant that something like the JNI
wasn't possible without a full source license. (again, public info at the
time).  So maybe the situation has changed for embedding the VM inside an

> Free software is not at its best playing catchup.

Yes -- as others have pointed out, running free software as a _business_,
in other words sticking to schedules when it's all volunteer time, is
tough.  (understandably: there's a sever limit on time for a day job, much
less night jobs.  I've complained before about 24 hour days.  Who invented
those?  Dumb idea).

		== John ==

        == John D. Gwinner ==
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