[kaffe] Future directions for Kaffe

Tim Bevan tim.bevan at 1spatial.com
Mon Mar 26 12:22:01 PDT 2007

Jim Pick wrote:

>Hi everybody,
>* I imagine that in the future, people will most likely look to OpenJDK
>as a starting point to add their enhancements.  Is there still a role
>for Kaffe to play here?
As a free open alternative probably.

It may be that it has had it's day and OpenJDK will take over. I would 
not rush to bin it and I would not rush to alter it too much. 

Too much change simply introduces instability - people will find other 
JVMs that simply work

Someone needs to come up with a new charter for the project what is it 
that Kaffe supplies that OpenJDK cannot? It may take some time to 
discover what this really is.

>* I think Kaffe probably is still the simplest full JVM implementation
>that isn't just an interpreter.  It's been used for all manner of exotic
>porting projects that might just be too hard to do using something like
>OpenJDK or gcj.
Which is a reason to keep it simple and easy to port.

>* Kaffe is licensed under the GPLv2.  So is OpenJDK.  But Kaffe doesn't
>require copyright assignment, and we're pretty open.  Sun doesn't have
>to vette the code going into Kaffe.  That suggests that perhaps we could
>merge in large parts of OpenJDK, and provide a place for people to do
>really experimental stuff that Sun isn't going to permit in their
>version.  Is this something we should consider?
I would say stay clear of getting too close to OpenJDK - if there is 
little difference between the two projects, it is Kaffe that is pointless.

>* In other words, should we go big?  And merge in as much stuff as
>possible.  That could be problematic, since Kaffe is already pretty
>huge.  Maybe we could adopt more of a "distribution" approach, and break
>things into a bunch of modules that are all developed to work together?
Stability with quiet growth would probably keep Debian on board better.

>* I think we've been trending towards the "go big" direction for some
>time, with all the Classpath merging and other projects, and the core
>has been somewhat neglected.  It's been really good to support Classpath
>this way, and it's helped to get a lot of Java stuff integrated into
>Debian.  On the other hand, I think the build itself is just too
>intimidating.  It's massive.  I think most prospective developers would
>probably give up before getting it to build the first time.  Our
>configure scripts are almost an operating system in and of themselves.  :-)
Classpath is a bit special? You want a Java 1.X on top of Kaffe and 
Classpath appears to be the way to get that - or support the equivalent 
in OpenJDK.

Tim Bevan
Principal Software Engineer
+44 (0)1223 420 414

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