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OpenOffice 2.0 Criticized on Use of Java 805

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the right-tool-vs-right-tool dept.
karvind writes "Yahoo is running a story on how OpenOffice 2.0 Faces Opposition over Its Use of Java. According the article: "The problem, according to some free software voices, is that OO.o relies too much on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s proprietary Java programming language in an open-source project. In particular, free software advocates are objecting to the use of Sun specific Java code for such OO.o 2.0 features as the new, Microsoft Access-like database management program, Base and Writer's (OO.o's word processor) document wizards." Linus Torvalds also moved to an open-source solution for software configuration management system."
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OpenOffice 2.0 Criticized on Use of Java

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  • by Gentoo Fan (643403) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:35PM (#12501480) Homepage
    It's here, it's (basically) free. Why not use it?

    Also, who is Linus Trolvalds?
    • by MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) <dylanNO@SPAMdylanbrams.com> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:37PM (#12501513) Homepage Journal
      The Stallman viewpoint is here under The Java Trap. [newsforge.com] Interesting.

      While I agree with him on his, "Everyone needs to be slowly dragged out of the not-free-as-in-beer arena, one finds it tough to imagine that rewriting these basic data-interaction Java classes is going to be easy to get done. The Access mirroring probably requires extensive use of this kind of API, and err.... Not the most glamorous of tasks... Since SUN's stuff is currently Free- As-In-Parking, one might think that getting people to do the redevelopment might be tough to motivate until really necessary.

      A lot of parallels between this situation and the BitKeeper one, but rather than it being a third party tool it's a completely integrated API. One might think that this could be a problem in the future larger than the BitKeeper problem, were Sun to take a completely weird turn on things.... Suddenly needing to mirror an API's functionality - especially one as big as the entirety of the JVM's data-processing infrastructure.

      So it seems Stallman has a very good point here. Can you imagine trying to, say, re-implement DirectX if Microsoft suddenly wasn't going to let you code using it? I don't know if this is a comparable task, but it's the only thing I can think of in my terms....
      • by yog (19073) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:51PM (#12501720) Homepage Journal
        It's like saying that Linus is going to patent Linux and stop everyone from using it for free. That's simply not going to happen. I think we're pretty safe in going with Java, certainly safer and more cross-platform-compatible than the C#/DOTNET thing Microsoft is foisting on the world.

        So Java's not open source; who cares. Out in the real world, no one cares whether Java is open source or not. Anyone can quickly obtain it with a couple of mouse clicks. If it enhances the functionality of OOo then why not use it?

        The only worrisome thing is if Microsoft were to buy Sun and start slowly tightening the screws on Java. That would be awful and disastrous, but it's highly unlikely to occur given past history of anti-trust suits and such.

        Now, what I'm really keen on is a version of OOo for PalmOS. That would be sweet. Why doesn't Sun cook that up while they're at it. Of course then they'll have to create a JVM for PalmOS as well. Also, we'll need Ghostscript, ghostview, xpdf, and a few other goodies to round out the Palm offerings. But with 600Mh processors, gigabyte-plus storage, and larger RAM, how hard can all this be to achieve?
        • by Anonymous Coward
          more cross-platform-compatible than the C#/DOTNET thing Microsoft is foisting on the world.

          Nope. C# runs at least as places Java 1.5 does, thanks to Mono/ASP.NET.

          With Java, Sun's proprietary moving target policy means you're stuck between the "old standards" that Gnu's java and other non-licensees have, or the small handful of supported platforms from Sun and a couple licensees.

          Thanks to Mono, with C# you're good anywhere you feel like cross-compiling to.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:45PM (#12502303)
            Thanks to Mono, with C# you're good anywhere you feel like cross-compiling to.


            The reality is that 99% of C# programmers only care about windows. Where as 99% of Java programmers could care less what platform they use.
            • I can't believe I'm replying to an AC, but AMEN BROTHER!

              I have yet to meet a single programmer who works with mono "for pay". I would wager that 99.999999% of programmers who are getting payed to write C# are getting payed to write C# under windows. Can you say the same about Java? The Java projects I see are fairly well distributed between straight VM plays on windows or linux, or bundled into a platform like Oracle or Websphere. There is a lot of platform diversity in the Java arena, nearly none in the C# world AFAICT.
              • by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @04:43PM (#12503007)
                I've been writing Java web-apps for nearly 6 years now. In that time, most of them have been deployed to Linux under resin (caucho.com); recently, they've been deployed under WebLogic (a couple of clients asked for it, so they got it, despite not actually needing it).

                I've used a variety of different versions of Linux and Windows on my desktop as suited my whim at the time. As you say, that's essentially irrelevant though; my code targets the JVM, not the Windows JVM or the Linux JVM or the Mac OS X JVM, just the JVM.

                As it happens, I develop under the Sun JVM, but may well be deploying to that, or IBM's, or BEA's jrockit JVM. As long as it's the correct release, it's immaterial. (And in fact, sometimes I've not even *known* what JVM is being used in production)
        • Out in the real world, no one cares whether Java is open source or not. Anyone can quickly obtain it with a couple of mouse clicks. If it enhances the functionality of OOo then why not use it?

          What about platforms where Sun does not provide a JVM? Those people will never be able to tun the full OOo, and the more Java used, the less they will be able to use. Will it eventually be zero?

          This really is the problem. It ties OOo to only the platforms that Sun wants to support. Open java and the problem goes awa
        • by Jussi K. Kojootti (646145) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:39PM (#12502242)
          The only worrisome thing is if Microsoft were to buy Sun and start slowly tightening the screws on Java.
          Yours seems to be a simple world... There are many scenarios where the owner of Java might do stupid things. Just imagine Sun running out of money and selling everything valuable (if you think this is impossible, just remember what almost happened to big blue); or dividing into multiple separate companies, one of which would own only Java... There is no telling what would happen.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        So it seems Stallman has a very good point here. Can you imagine trying to, say, re-implement DirectX if Microsoft suddenly wasn't going to let you code using it? I don't know if this is a comparable task, but it's the only thing I can think of in my terms....

        The ironic thing here is that Gnu has a Java compiler, gcj, *and* gcj is intended to ultimately become the Java solution for Open Office.

        You'd think nobody knew there were open source Java implementations... Java is a great language, and there is

        • by drakaan (688386) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:34PM (#12502186) Homepage Journal
          Well, in the article, they make plenty of mention of gjc. The fact that it's available is not the issue. The issue is that right now You have to patch OOo to compile under gjc and OOo is using some vendor-specific functionality from Sun's Java in order to get a number of improvements and some base functionality.

          If the first "O" in OpenOffice stands for "Open", then having to rely on a particular company's implementation of Java is not a good thing. Look at the various Java apps written for Microsoft's version of Java, or webpages of the past that relied on vendor-specific extensions for examples of why that's not a good thing.

          Any time a particular implementation that is *not* free (as in speech) becomes a defacto standard, everyone becomes tied to the whims of that vendor's implementation. True, Sun probably won't do anything drastic, but there's still a very real possibility that they won't see eye-to-eye with the OOo developer community on some random issue somewhere down the line.

          I would rather have the fallout from such a situation be that Sun was left without the ability to force the developers into a move they didn't like, rather than having the developers be forced to fork and re-engineer the whole shebang or start over from scratch. That much work shouldn't get pissed away over something like that.

          Again, that's a possibility, not a certainty, but why take chances?

      • by Ryan Amos (16972) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:17PM (#12502012)
        Stallman is also a maniac who refused to give a speech on his views to the SIGLinux (LUG at the University of Texas) because we were using the name "Linux" and not "GNU/Linux." He doesn't know where to pick his fights and often ends up embroiled in petty feuds over things largely tangential to his main cause. His solutions are often overly idealistic and impractical, i.e. moving everyone who uses Java off of Java.

        Java code, in itself, is not bad. There is a need for a good, compile-once-run-anywhere format, and it seems Java has become the standard for this. Lots of people know how to code Java (in large part due to Sun's involvement in college curriculum,) and this is important, because when writing a piece of software, you want a large pool of knowledgable programmers to choose from. Lots of people know Java, and if Java fits your needs, you're gonna use it.

        Java also makes perfect sense for the kind of stuff OO.o is using it for: basically "plug-in" features not central to the usage of OO.o, but still very useful. This is useful because of the large number of platforms supported by OO.o, they can just release an update to the java code and it will more or less run the same on every platform they support.

        I think in the *nix arena, Java is more useful for application code because of the wide variety of OSes. Java VMs exist for pretty much every known architecture, and they were mostly written by the standards makers for Java (Sun) so they're gonna work pretty much the same. This involves a lot of trust in Sun, but it takes trust in some sort of standards-making body to unify any disjoint architectures. In any case, I trust Sun to start a project like this and stick with it over the years more than I do Stallman and the Free Software goblins.

        The BitKeeper issue is different entirely; it was a commercial product being offered for free, with the possibility that it could be yanked out from under them at any time. There should have been background work on an eventual replacement for BitKeeper well before anything happened. Why is this different from the Java example? Because the OS kernel is totally different and there was no alternative. If Sun were to suddenly make Java pay-to-use, the programs could, for the most part, be rewritten in C++ with minimal effort (most of the work could be done in 15 minutes by a Lisp program.)
        • by McDutchie (151611) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @05:22PM (#12503460) Homepage
          If Sun were to suddenly make Java pay-to-use, the programs could, for the most part, be rewritten in C++ with minimal effort (most of the work could be done in 15 minutes by a Lisp program.)

          If that is true, then why is there any reason to use Java at all? Convert to C++, gain huge speed increase, retain cross-platform compatibility with a simple recompile. Either Java is unneccesary or the conversion is more complex than you make it out to be. In the latter case, the "Java Trap" is very real, indeed, and very dangerous.

      • by David Leppik (158017) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:25PM (#12502084) Homepage
        So it seems Stallman has a very good point here. Can you imagine trying to, say, re-implement DirectX if Microsoft suddenly wasn't going to let you code using it? I don't know if this is a comparable task, but it's the only thing I can think of in my terms....
        s/DirectX/Visual Basic/
        Funny, this isn't as far fetched as it seems.
      • by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @04:10PM (#12502602) Homepage Journal
        Simple answer.
        1. Take the Open Office code.
        2. Fork it.
        3. Rewrite the java parts to be as "Free" as you like.

        The great thing about OSS is you can do this.
        There is NO comparison to BitKeeper. I have never heard that the Java agreement states that you can not work on a another VM or programing language if you use Java like BitKeeper did.

        So if you want to complain but not do anything I suggest that you just use any of the free office style programs and stop complaining.
      • classpath (Score:5, Informative)

        by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @04:14PM (#12502634)
        Indeed, the problem is big. Some BSDs don't have java, linux ppc users either. Right now Java's "portability" is a joke with Sun's VM, even if it was free as in speech.

        That's why GNU classpath & GCJ is important. It will provide us with a free (as in speech & beer) java VM for those who doesn't want to use Sun's VM (linux users, basically). Redhat is putting lots programmers & money behind of GCJ and collaborating with tons of community-based projects - they really want a free java. In fact, Redhat has some people hacking on GCJ to support openoffice's java features [gnu.org].

        Actually, GCJ 4 is one of the GCC 4.0 greatest features, here is an article [lwn.net] about why it's so great. They've achieved almost all Java 1.4 important features and there's work ongoing to support 1.5.

        And GCJ does support, in fact, MORE architectures and operative systems than Sun's propietary offerings - yes, more. It's what will make java truly palataform-independent. GCJ is part of GCC, so it supports the platforms that gcc supports - much more than Sun's VM or other propietary VMs
    • Also, who is Linus Trolvalds?

      He's an imposter! A bad one at that. This has got to be microsoft FUD designed to scare people away from free solutions and back to their lovely products......(Microsoft Access-like database management program?)

      Don't believe any of it. MS fud machine must have been freshly greased just for this one.

      AGHHHHHHHH! WHERE'S MY TINFOIL HAT?????
    • Maybe they think that OOo 2.0 will get released too soon and would prefer to wait a few years for the developers to port, and test the code.

      There's HypersonicSQL, that would have to be removed from its dev team, forked, and ported to a non java language. Then all of the code that uses it. I'm sure there's lots of other stuff.
      So, we could add a year or more to the release and get the exact same features with the same performance, the same license (OOo license), and more bugs.

      Yes, we could wait and get noth
  • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman @ g m a i l . c om> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:35PM (#12501483) Homepage Journal
    Hey ASSHOLES, the current Java source code can be downloaded here [sun.com], and the latest development version can be downloaded here [java.net]. And if that's not enough for you, your precious Kaffe [kaffe.org], gcj [gnu.org], GNU Classpath [gnu.org], and other "Open Source" projects are working on reimplementing the JVM. I don't particularly care if you like Java or not, but I've had enough of this bullshit about Java being open or not. It's a God damn language/platform with thousands of successful Open Source projects under it, and has been opened up six ways to sunday. Comparing the issue to Linus's predicament is disingenuous at best, is not outright dishonest!

    Not to mention that OpenOffice is Sun's baby. They PAID MONEY FOR IT. (I know that's a foreign concept here, since the entire fraking world is supposed to be FREE for the fraking taking.) If you don't like the direction OpenOffice has taken, then go play with KOffice. Oh wait, you alreay pissed them off too. Is there anyone you people won't make an enemy of in your Quixotic quests of stupidity?

    Apologies for the abrasiveness of this post, but crap like this deserves it. You've been given a gift and all you can do is look it in the mouth.
    • Agreed. Can't we stick with anti-FUD stories here?
      And I think you're french is quite good.
    • by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot&monkelectric,com> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:46PM (#12501655)
      Double agreed. The 1.x versions of OO use Blackdown IIRC? *BLACKDOWN SUCKS*. Yes its good to have an open source java platform. Is it good that its an order og magnitude slower than Suns java? *NO*. Open Office 1 was soo slow it was *unusable* on my athlon 1700 w/ 512mb. The OO 2 beta is downright *speedy* on the same system.

      End of story. Would it be nice if it was based on an open source stuff? Yes. Is the open source stuff up to par in this case? no.

    • by natrius (642724) * <.gro.narin. .ta. .narin.> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:47PM (#12501657) Homepage
      From the article:
      The most visible evidence of that is that the FSF (Free Software Foundation) is "is looking for volunteers to maintain a version of OpenOffice that doesn't require a non-free Java platform."
      This isn't about having something against Java as a language or being mad at Sun for implementing new features in Java. I think they should use whichever tools allow them to work most efficiently. All this is about is ensuring that all these new features can be utilized without Sun's JVM, since most distros can't ship it. This means people have to provide patches that deal with the incompleteness of the free JVMs. If the patches don't make it upstream, someone still needs to maintain them.

      There's nothing wrong with wanting a completely free software stack, and I think there's generally less animosity out there than people are making it seem.
    • by Hobbex (41473) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:49PM (#12501696)

      The problem is not that it uses Java, the problem is that it uses a bunch of classes that in the com.sun hierarchy - classes that are NOT part of the standard Java library, and that bind it explicitely to Sun's proprietary (source code available does not make it Free - many people have the source code for Windows) JVM. The developers have made zero effort to try to make it possible for Kaffe, GCJ, or the upcoming Harmony to be used for OpenOffice.

      And yes, this is their right. If they wanted to drop everything but the Windows version, that would be their right too. If they wanted to stop development all together, or decide that future versions would be entirely proprietary, that would be their right too.

      But you know what, it is perfectly reasonable to try to bring up that this is a glaring problem in the presentation of OpenOffice as a non-prorietary open office suite. The people who do so are not whining, or demanding, and they aren't being rude ASSHOLES (that would be you). They are simply putting light on a rather crucial issue.
      • by willCode4Beer.com (783783) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:07PM (#12501900) Homepage Journal
        The developers have made zero effort to try to make it possible for Kaffe, GCJ, or the upcoming Harmony
        Wait, you mean developers working for free, have made zero effort to make their task more difficult?
        Those jerks.
        Why didn't they consult with us before giving us free software?
        Don't they know that we care more about the choice of development language than functionality and bugs.
        You can't seriously trust a developer to chose the implementation language for his or her project. Isn't it more appropriate for the users of software to decide the deveopment language. They are the ones who will get the binaries.
      • by LarsWestergren (9033) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:08PM (#12501921) Homepage Journal
        The people who do so are not whining, or demanding, and they aren't being rude ASSHOLES

        It is if they are spreading FUD, and a lot of people here are. "Undocumented Sun only Java libraries" my ass. The code is open for anyone to look at. See what Kaffe, GCJ or Harmony is missing and implement that instead of wasting time bashing Sun.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Hé des ABRUTIS, le code source courant de Java peuvent être téléchargés ici [ sun.com ], et la dernière version de développement peut être téléchargée ici [ java.net ]. Et si ce n'est pas assez pour vous, votre Kaffe précieux [ kaffe.org ], gcj [ gnu.org ], GNU Classpath [ gnu.org ], et d'autres projets "de source ouverte" travaillent à reimplementing le JVM. Je ne m'inquiète pas en particulier si vous aimez Java ou pas, mais j'ai eu as
    • If you'll understand why Free Software advocates don't consider it a gift, you'll understand why there's so much hesitation and mistrust.

      I believe SUN _truly_ believes as you do: That they're doing the world a favor. That SUN is doing the virtuous thing with SUN JAVA.

      However, I would hope that someone at SUN- and others like yourself- would notice that maybe, JUST MAYBE, there's a motivation behind all this mistrust, and a reason why Free Software advocates feel threatened by SUN JAVA.

      And while we're mak
    • by matthewn (91381) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:37PM (#12502218)

      Hey ASSHOLES ... Apologies for the abrasiveness of this post, but crap like this deserves it.
      Sigh. No. No it does not. The people you've called ASSHOLES are standing up for a principle they believe in. Their point is quite simple, and you're ignoring it: Java is not Free [fsf.org]. Now, that may not be important to you. Fine! Say so! Make your argument. Maybe even try to convince someone you're right. But don't tell us that Java has been "opened up wix ways to sunday," because that's a red herring. We're not talking about the way you define freedom or open-ness. The story isn't about whether Java meets your standards. The story is about Free Software that isn't Free anymore. Some people get upset about these things. That doesn't make them ASSHOLES.

      The idea that there can be no criticism of Sun because they've provided a "gift" is silly. If you make a gift of pork to someone whose beliefs say "don't eat pork," should they thank you and chow down? Granted, the analogy doesn't hold in the end, because in this case, Free Software types can try to turn the pork into chicken (Kaffe, gcj, etc.). That doesn't make them ASSHOLES either.

      As for what you falsely label "abrasiveness" (it's actually something much deeper), if you have this level of intolerance for opposing views, well, there are words to describe people like you. You already seem to know one of them. Remember to turn the caps lock on.

      • by kaffiene (38781) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:05PM (#12505631)
        Bullshit. Noone is forcing you to use Open Office.

        If it offends your sensiblities that Sun gives the product of years of its effort and millions of it's dollars away in ways which are "free" in many different senses except for your special definition of "free", then be my guest and don't use it.

        You ARE an asshole for suggesting that something you get for free isn't exactly the way you want it. FFS - it's free! If you don't like it, don't use it.
  • Covered before (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quixote (154172) * on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:35PM (#12501485) Homepage Journal
    As I pointed out to the editors (OK, laugh at that), this has been covered before [slashdot.org]. Though, I don't understand the need to throw in Linus's name. Maybe that's to rile up the crowd? :-)
  • Use of Java (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zardus (464755) <yans@yancomm.net> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:36PM (#12501498) Homepage Journal
    Its a programming language... As long as the code is open source, then why not use it?

    At a future point in time, there could very well be complete open source java implementations. But even if there aren't, the code is still open source.
    • Re:Use of Java (Score:5, Insightful)

      by m50d (797211) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:46PM (#12501645) Homepage Journal
      Because it depends on undocumented "features" that are only available in the sun JRE, which is THE PROBLEM THE ARTICLE IS ABOUT. Wasn't this exactly what sun (quite rightly) criticised MS for doing with java?
      • Re:Use of Java (Score:3, Insightful)

        by natrius (642724) *
        Because it depends on undocumented "features" that are only available in the sun JRE

        That's not true. The features are documented, but the free Java implementations haven't caught up yet. Everyone is so quick to prove some sort of malicious intent that they're ignoring the facts. The article doesn't say anything about undocumented features, it talks about unimplemented features.
      • *What* undocumented features? Can we see any proof please?
      • Re:Use of Java (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bay43270 (267213) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:04PM (#12501873) Homepage
        Because it depends on undocumented "features" that are only available in the sun JRE, which is THE PROBLEM THE ARTICLE IS ABOUT. Wasn't this exactly what sun (quite rightly) criticised MS for doing with java?

        Read RMS's The Java Trap [gnu.org]. He isn't complaining about undocumented features, he was complaining about using features that haven't been implemented in a 'free' version of Java yet. In essence, he's complaining that GNU Classpath isn't developing fast enough (although he would never word it that way). Once GNU Classpath catches up to Sun (if it happens), then Open Office will work just fine with it.

        And this wasn't what Sun was criticizing MS for. MS was adding very well documented (and thoughtful) features to Java. New features like delegates. Sun just didn't want to loose control of Java. They didn't say no one should advance Java past version 1.1. They said only Sun should make changes to the language.
      • Re:Use of Java (Score:3, Informative)

        Yes, and no. Using that sort of logic, Sun could never add a new feature to their JRE until they'd added to to everyone elses.

        The problem Sun had with Microsoft's Java was that Microsoft was giving access to Win32-only API's, so that the source that used them would run only on a platform that supported Win32. Sun accused them of attempting to take a language they had worked hard to make platform independent, and tie it directly to Win32.

        If Microsoft was making extensions that were useful and didn't n

    • Re:Use of Java (Score:5, Informative)

      by rgmoore (133276) * <glandauer@charter.net> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:54PM (#12501759) Homepage
      Its a programming language... As long as the code is open source, then why not use it?

      It doesn't do any good to have open source software if it requires a closed source VM to run. You're still at the mercy of whoever controls the VM. If they decide to pull your license (as Sun did to FreeBSD [slashdot.org]) then you're no longer allowed to use your own software. You can't build Free Software on a non-Free foundation.

      • Re:Use of Java (Score:4, Interesting)

        by murdocj (543661) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:39PM (#12502232)
        You can't build Free Software on a non-Free foundation

        Of course you can. Stallman himself points out that that's how free software was developed. If the first free software had had to wait for the first free user to toggle the first free monitor and free assembler into memory one byte at a time, there wouldn't be any free software. Free software was built on back of unliberated software.

  • by frankie (91710) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:36PM (#12501504) Journal
    Let's try and keep this discussion focused on Sun, Java, and OO.org, but not the Bitkeeper flamewar, mmmkay?
  • Umm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vaevictis666 (680137) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:36PM (#12501508)
    Really, what the heck does the kernel development move have to do with this? Linus didn't move off of BK because it was non-free, it's because the no-charge use license was revoked by BM.

    If someone could explain how this relates to OO.o's use of Java, I'd appreciate it :P Otherwise I'll just assume the submitter is trying to be a little more sensational about things.

  • I agree...sort of. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PenguinBoyDave (806137) <<david> <at> <davidmeyer.org>> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:37PM (#12501509)
    Java works, and works well. However, I can see the point about OpenOffice being totally *free.* However, Since OpenOffice is essentially StarOffice, which, if I am not mistaken, comes from SUN, why not use it?
    • by Soko (17987)
      It's a matter of control.

      Sun still ultimately controls Java, and how Java is licensed. They also have a history of viewing colleagues _solely_ as competitors - something to be destroyed, not a person to share ideas with. This makes some in the OSS community nervous, since we can't guarantee that any Java components will remain Free Software in perpetuity.

      Sun may actually want to play nice with the OSS community (I'm beginning to think that they do, but I'm still not sure), but I think they have a problem
      • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:56PM (#12502441)
        What you and many others fail to understand is that Java the trademark might be owned by Sun, but Java the language LONG AGO went into the hands of the community - namly the Java Community Process. Java is really controlled by a LOT of companies now including IBM. Do you think IBM is really going to care if Sun withdraws into a shell? They would move forward with Java regardless, and they have a whole VM to back up such an action.

        Java already has a community. It's up to Sun to try and mesh the two communities but if you just pretend Java = Sun then you will never understand the results of anything that happens, as the reality is far more complex.

        Personally I'd like to see the focus be on catching up GCJ with the standards, and having a first-class Open Source Free VM. Then this whole debate is moot.
        • by jbolden (176878) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @04:45PM (#12503030) Homepage
          AFAIKT the JCP is legally a fully non profit subsidiary of Sun. The money collected goes to Sun. Sun's Process Management Office selects the experts and the specification lead for the Expert Group. That means your comment is essentially like saying, "General Moters doesn't control the engine specification Buick does". This may be true but ultimately Buick doesn't exist in any legal sense.

          Regardless of this however , of the 14 Expert Groups that have been formed, eight are led by Sun employees. Which means Sun controls Java in practice. Now of course the same can be send for Open Office (which is basically a Sun product) so I'm not sure what to say about the original complaint.
  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:37PM (#12501512) Homepage Journal
    The objections seem to be emanating from rms.

    While some OO.o supporters claim that the opposition is primarily the result of misinformed free-software zealots, Microsoft, or astroturfing (the use of paid shills to create the impression of a popular movement) by OO.o opponents, there does seem to be some concrete opposition to OO.o by the free software community.

    The most visible evidence of that is that the FSF (Free Software Foundation) is "is looking for volunteers to maintain a version of OpenOffice that doesn't require a non-free Java platform."

    Volunteers to lead this project are requested to contact the FSF's founder, Richard M. Stallman
  • Stupid... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jwthompson2 (749521) <james AT plainprograms DOT com> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:40PM (#12501563) Homepage

    Stupid, stupid, stupid...Free Software people will keep grumbling as long as we aren't building everything from a completely "Free as in Free-as-long-as-you-play-by-OUR-rules" standpoint. And what the hell is that about Linus, he rolled his own solution because he needed to do more than any of the available FOSS solutions could, but what bearing that has on OOo is beyond me....


    This is nonsense, there are some reasons, most highly contentious, not to rely heavily on Java but this argument isn't one of them...


    Idiots!

  • Sun is dogfooding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpiffyMarc (590301) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:41PM (#12501569)
    Sun buys StarOffice, and spins up a free version of it for the "community." They decide to use some of their own technology (Java) in this program. So what?

    Sun controls OpenOffice/StarOffice, and Sun controls Java. Both have been opened more than your typical commercial holding. What's the problem?
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:42PM (#12501594)
    well, assuming that Java _does_ run everywhere, which of course, we know it doesn't. Or doesn't run _well_... like on HP-UX.
    But anyway...
    What better language should they pick? VB? csh? Perl? Python? Mono? Java has relatively point-n-click installers for many popular OSes, has a remarkable amount of functionality, and will smooth their development wrinkles because of its universality. Remember, this is a desktop app, it needs to largely 'just work' from an installation perspective, you don't want Joe Windows User going to ActiveState and getting some Perl package, or needing some cygwin-esque environment to run Python or something else.
  • Straining at GNats (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lheal (86013) <lheal1999@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:44PM (#12501621) Journal

    Whether OO.o is built using a Free language or just a free language is not important to me. The source code of the suite (in the [Ff]ree language) is available.

    Having the source is all I really care about. Would it be better if Sun GPLd Java? Maybe. Would it be better if OO.o were developed using only Free tools? Maybe.

    Would any of that change my ability, in the real world, to use Open Office instead of MS Office? Probably not.

  • by JBrow (668684) <john.n.brow@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:45PM (#12501638)
    According the article: "The problem, according to some free software voices..."
    Stop right there. Name names that carry some weight, please. This is almost as bad as "Unidentified sources within the White House..." After drilling down to the cited NewsForge article http://software.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=05/03 /22/204244 [newsforge.com], we get to the the real reasons. Java is very powerful, albeit coming from Sun and not from the OSS community. Until the OSS community can deliver, can anyone provide an alternate to using Sun's Java?
  • by ShatteredDream (636520) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:49PM (#12501690) Homepage
    Python which is slow, has a much smaller user base and far less consistent and well-documented standard library?

    Perl whose readability for many coders is next to nothing?

    C++ because we all know that more buffer overflows and random craziness is what OpenOffice needs to compete with Microsoft Office?

    C# since 93-95% of the desktop users out there use Windows, why bother with the minority of others? (I actually quite like C# and am hopeful about Mono)

    Ruby because a language that most coders have never even seen before is clearly the best way for a fresh start?

    Objective-C because when Steve Jobs takes over the world, we'll need to be on his good side?

    C, since objects really are overrated for anything that normal developers might want to maintain?

    So seriously, of all of the major language choices, which would be better?
    • I'd use Python. Java is slow too, slower in practice since it makes much less use of native code. Why is the user base a problem? I've always found the standard library very well documented and have yet to have a consistency problem, but if those problems are there it's probably because the library is a lot bigger than in most languages, you'd normally end up getting external libraries to do the same thing which would, in all probability, be inconsistent with the standard library and underdocumented.
    • by TravisWatkins (746905) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:22PM (#12502056) Homepage
      Well, no one ever seems to complain about BrainFuck. Let's use that!
    • by cahiha (873942) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:43PM (#12502274)
      C++ because we all know that more buffer overflows and random craziness is what OpenOffice needs to compete with Microsoft Office?

      Given that such a huge page of OOo is already written in C++, adding a bit of Java into the mix doesn't make much of a difference in terms of reliability.

      It does make a difference in terms of introducing a dependency on a 50M install and a proprietary runtime that exists on only a limited range of platforms.

      So seriously, of all of the major language choices, which would be better?

      C++ plus a scripting language. C++ is and will always be primarily a C++-based implementation.

      I do agree that getting rid of C++ would be nice, but adding a few percent of Java code to OOo is not going to accomplish that.
    • by 0x336699 (865470) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:54PM (#12502415)
      I appreciate this thorough analysis of the major (non-Java) programming languages. Based on your remarks I have decided that OpenOffice should not be written in any programming language at all. My basis for this decision is that every programming language has tradeoffs and drawbacks associated with it, which I find unacceptable. All OpenOffice development will cease until an acceptably perfect language has been authored.

      Also, I would like a chicken sandwich and a girlfriend.
    • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @04:01PM (#12502496) Homepage

      Python which is slow, has a much smaller user base and far less consistent and well-documented standard library?

      Python which is not all that slow next to Java, is nowhere near as big a resource hog as Java, is completely Free, and is a standard part of most distros already.

      Besides, just haw fast does a document wizard or access like interface need to be? It'll spend most of it's time waiting for user input anyway.

      As it stands, I'd rather skip the wizards and access to avoid the dependancy on Java. Does anyone know if there's a proper config option for that or is it a hack and slash? If the latter, I* guess bI won't be upgrading for a good while.

    • by puregen1us (648116) <alex@ a l e x w a s s e r man.com> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @04:08PM (#12502576)
      Congratulations on the well thought out, objective arguement put forth. A single reason why not to use each language. No positive points considered at all. None of Java's flaws mentioned either.

      I actually, have no qualms with using Java, I just prefer to see rational, complete arguements on Slashdot. Something seldom posted.

      However, I fail to see the issue with using a proprietary language. The project is open source and will remain that way, and Sun cannot change that. Sun could change Java to spite it, but why would they deliberately harm a free, almost acceptable alternative to a rival's application?

      I use Apple's OSX, I don't use BSD's, NeXT's, Apple's OSX, and I don't use GNU Linux, I use Linux. I dislike the standard open-source, free-software bigotry, on licences. I imagine the majority of coders are working to create a decent alternative because they want just that, not out of some need for a jihad against an evil enemy. Why create such a fight. If that effort went into coding the results would be considerably better free software.

      Bit of a rant, sorry.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:50PM (#12501708)
    Believe it or not, but OO2 relying so heavily on Java is a problem, as Java is not free software.

    Now all the name calling that is currently going on here will not change this simple fact and all this "I don't give a f*** as long as it works" won't change the fact that java not being free software poses a problem.

    Look for example at Debian, or Fedora, or Ubuntu, they all ship without Java because of licensing problems. Having one of the most important apps for desktop linux rely heavily on Java sure poses a problem for these distributions and their users.

    That said, I get the feeling that something good will eventually come off this situation, as said distributions (and especiall RedHat) are now working even harder on providing a true free Java environment and make OO2 run with it.

    As someone who prefers free software and someone who runs linux on non-x86 (ppc, therefor no current Java + firefox plugin available) I can only welcome this development.
    • by duggy_92127 (165859) <doug.shea@gmaLAP ... m minus math_god> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @04:58PM (#12503214) Homepage
      Believe it or not, but OO2 relying so heavily on Java is a problem, as Java is not free software.

      From TFA:

      Scott Carr, OO.o's quality assurance project co-lead pointed out, "OO.o will run perfectly well without any JVM, but if there is a JVM then it has to do checks to make sure what features are supported in the JVM as well as run various functions. These are only run in the presence of a JVM."

      So, "relying so heavily on Java" isn't the case at all. Next point!

      Oh, they shouldn't use Sun stuff at all? From Caolán McNamara's blog [linux.ie]:

      This gcj request asks for the addition of java.awt.Frame.createBufferStrategy which is all that is missing from gcj to build the java canvas stuff. (Though the canvas module contains a pile of spurious imports of sun.awt which are unnecessary and can be removed, not that there's much point right now, if a createBufferStrategy becomes available then removing the sun.awt from the canvas/java .javas is all that's outstanding)

      So, it doesn't use Sun-specific stuff, and the only gcj problem is something that gcj doesn't support... and it runs fine without a JVM in the first place...

      Why are we still talking about this?

      Doug

  • I predict... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LarsWestergren (9033) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:51PM (#12501725) Homepage Journal
    Since all responses so far have been very reasonable ("if you think it is a problem, do your own version then and don't bash Sun"), I predict the trolls will try to change the discussion to "I hate Java and it sucks compared to my favourite language X", or "Java vs Mono", with inflammatory posts.

    Don't take the bait.

  • by lpangelrob2 (721920) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:55PM (#12501768) Journal
    But the article doesn't cite a specific example.

    -- from the article --

    Still others have suggested that instead of using an open-source Java, these components be rewritten in an entirely different language such as Ruby or Python.

    However, some programmers have just gone ahead and found fixes for OO.o, which enables it to run with GCJ.

    Caolán McNamara, a programmer with Red Hat who specializes in word processing, has created one such set of fixes.

    A source at Sun said, "OO.o 2 works OK with GCJ" and that "Red Hat has been tremendously helpful in the effort to make that so, filing bug reports etc."

    In addition, while OO.o will run without a JVM (Java Virtual Machine), it will use one if it's available, and its performance has been found to be much better if Sun's 5.0 JVM is used.

    But, as Scott Carr, OO.o's quality assurance project co-lead pointed out, "OO.o will run perfectly well without any JVM, but if there is a JVM then it has to do checks to make sure what features are supported in the JVM as well as run various functions. These are only run in the presence of a JVM."

    -- end FTA --

    So... if there is a JVM, [something] runs better/faster than if there wasn't. For starters, the app works without Java. Secondly, it's been fixed to compile with an open-source Java compiler. Thirdly, what kind of code runs this way? The article didn't specify.

    How odd.

    Regardless, this is still a big deal about nothing, as per usual.

  • FireOffice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GodWasAnAlien (206300) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:04PM (#12501865)
    my issue with java is not so much java/opensource/gpl..., but rather speed/memory/footprint.

    Open office is already huge and somewhat slow. Java will only make this worse.

    I remember when Mozilla was feature rich (kitchen sink), slow and huge. I stuck with old Netscape4 until Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox came fixed the Mozilla problems.

    After OO2 is released, probably someone will fork it, replacing all the java, and call it FireOffice, then OpenOffice will adopt the changes.

  • by cahiha (873942) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:09PM (#12501932)
    OOo cannot remain dependent on Sun Java: Sun Java just runs on too few systems and configurations. Either OOo gets hacked to remove dependencies on Java altogether, or it needs to be packages with a small, open source Java implementation that works well enough to let OOo function.

    Of course, none of this is particularly surprising: Sun is trying to introduce dependencies on their proprietary software in many pieces of software. It's an evil master plan, and it won't work, but that won't stop Schwartz and McNealy from trying until their company is bankrupt.
  • by delirium28 (641609) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:15PM (#12501996) Journal
    If you RTFA, you'll notice a link to Caolán McNamara [linux.ie]'s blog, which indicates how to get OO.o to build under GCJ. It also points out (as many have mentioned here) that no proprietary Sun classes are really being called here, it's just that the FOSS equivalents aren't quite up to speed yet.

    It seems that people are getting upset at looking at the imports in the code without realizing that THEY ARE NEVER USED!!! Again, I refer you to the blog entry, but for those of you too lazy:

    This gcj request [gnu.org] asks for the addition of java.awt.Frame.createBufferStrategy which is all that is missing from gcj to build the java canvas stuff. (Though the canvas module contains a pile of spurious imports of sun.awt which are unnecessary and can be removed, not that there's much point right now, if a createBufferStrategy becomes available then removing the sun.awt from the canvas/java .javas is all that's outstanding)

    Nothing to see here, just move along. More jumping the gun rather than investigating things to completion.

  • by duffbeer703 (177751) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:22PM (#12502059)
    It's like saying:

    "The US invaded Iraq today. In other news, Tom Cruise was seen using a porta-potty."
  • Militant Bullshit (Score:3, Informative)

    by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:28PM (#12502128) Homepage Journal
    If you don't like OO, don't use it. As many have pointed out here, Sun basically bought it, and then gave it away for free. Apparently, that's not good enough for the revolutionary crowd here. It's a wonder any of these companies will work with us at all. With friends like these...

    I got into Linux because I wanted Unix at home. Not to rape and pillage the unbelievers. If we're getting to a point where I have to live by the Purer Faith, so to speak, just to use software, I'll head to BSD land. Because while I think the open source method is very, very cool, and will revolutionize software (in truth, it already has), I'm getting tired of the militants lecturing me about what I choose to put on my computer. I didn't sign up for that.
  • by d_jedi (773213) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @04:40PM (#12502960)
    See: The Java Trap, by Richard Stallman

    Sun's implementation of Java is non-free. Blackdown is also non-free; it is an adaptation of Sun's proprietary code. The standard Java libraries are non-free also. We do have free implementations of Java, such as the GNU Java Compiler and GNU Classpath, but they don't support all the features yet. We are still catching up.
    So the "free" version of Java is incomplete.

    The reliable way to avoid the Java Trap is to have only a free implementation of Java on your system. Then if you use a Java feature or library that free software does not yet support, you will find out straightaway, and you can rewrite that code immediately.
    And he wants developers to write Java targetting this crippled "free" version instead of the official Sun compiler.

    Here's an idea FIX THE DAMN "FREE" COMPILER. There's nothing wrong with the Java code people are writing - it's the incomplete "free" compiler that's the problem.

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