Free Java advocacy (was Re: Improving Java for Linux)

benjamin at benjamin at
Fri Nov 7 14:18:25 PST 1997

I'm not going to quote anything, because this is a very general 
comment.  But I speak in reference to all those who would like to see 
Java turned into an international standard.

I _want_ Java to be such a standard.  I think that it would be really 
cool.  However, there is an increasing tendency in the industry to 
completely ignore official "standards" in favor of de facto ones.  
Windows is a de facto standard.  Netscape's HTML mail is.  According 
to ANSI, there is no such thing as SCSI-3, but how many people know 
that?  Whose version of C do you use?

Companies have the clout, the incentive, and the agility (usually) to 
protect what they deem is theirs.  Microsoft tries to alter Java, Sun 
jumps up and down screaming bloody murder.  Imagine if Java were an 
ISO standard and Microsoft added its own APIs...  do you really think 
that ISO would do anything?  It would sort of look down its nose at 
Microsoft and say "You're not standard; you're naughty" and feel good 
about itself for a while.  Programmers would write to Microsoft's VM, 
or Sun's VM, or Kaffe's VM, and Java would be a royal mess.  Is that 
really what we want?

Once Java is safe from the likes of Microsoft (and that may be some 
time from now), THEN it will be time to try to free it from the evil 
clutches of Sun, if Sun doesn't behave.  I don't really know whether 
Sun is a much better custodian of Java than Microsoft, but right now, 
Sun is far, far less dangerous.  Do not underestimate the power of 
Windows.  It is very much alive, and I'd bet that more than half of 
all Java developers don't seriously believe that _anyone_ runs a 
non-MS operating system.

I have contributed nothing to the Kaffe project.  I have seen Sun's 
source code, so I won't for a long time.  Given that this is none of 
my #^@!^% business, therefore, I don't think that I should have a loud 
voice here.  But I will say that I believe that the free software 
movement might just be the future of computing, but that if Kaffe 
tries to branch out from Sun's blessed Java (at least until a long, 
long time from now), Kaffe will wither and die into the dust.  

Good luck to us all.
benjamin at  
PGP public key on my homepage, and finger -l bwpearre at
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