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Java Programming GNU is Not Unix

FSF, OpenOffice.org Team Reach Agreement on Java 411

Posted by timothy
from the detente dept.
Bruce Byfield points out his NewsForge (part of OSTG) article about something good coming out of the conflict over Java in OpenOffice.org. It begins "A dispute between the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and OpenOffice.org (OOo) over the increased use of Java in the upcoming version 2.0 release of OOo is over -- at least for now. The two groups have found a short-term solution, and are working together on ways to keep the dispute from happening again." The story provides a decent background on why it matters, and shows a surprisingly conciliatory attitude on both sides.
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FSF, OpenOffice.org Team Reach Agreement on Java

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  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:47PM (#12547355)
    Will this always happen when a product reached the popular user base? I think there should be more work to integrating OSS project with Non OSS projects. Either making Non-OSS projects with OSS Prerequisite and vice versa. If OSS it is about freedom, why do they make it difficult for us to choose a non free development method? If you become to popular then you will be forced to use OSS tools except for what the developers think is the best tool for the job. We should be able to develop without the Free Software Organizations Pressuring us to make our legally developed products fit their idea on what is Free Software. If this is played out to the full extent then we are just as stuck as those who choose to use non-OSS products because we are forced to choose between what is available OSS. I believe in freedom as me as a developer to allowed to choose what tools I wish to use, and for other to assume that I have weighed the Pros and Cons of my choices. This type of stuff that happens is why commercial companies are weary of OSS.
    • by ZephyrXero (750822) <zephyrxero@ y a h o o . c om> on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:55PM (#12547453) Homepage Journal
      This stuff happens because you shouldn't build open/free software off proprietary software. If you want to use open software as a foundation or library for your proprietary software, that's fine...but you don't develop open source code with a closed source language. It defeats the purpose of it being open. Linus found out the hardway and I'm glad that Open Office will hopefully be having an easier time...
      • the problem i belive was that OO.org was origionaly star office (star office still being around and being the comercial version of OO.org basicaly now)and the code base was heavily tied to java already .Sun had decided to open the projects to get some input from the oss world in exchange for an open source office program.
        So it is only natural that they would be still using alot of java , not that i agree entierly with the decision to continue to build upon the java elements but just a little background as t
      • by davecb (6526) * <davec-b@rogers.com> on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:17PM (#12547725) Homepage Journal
        ZephyrXero writes: don't develop open source code with a closed source language.

        Remember the bad old days when the brand-new language "C" was owned by Bell Labs, and they claimed anything you wrote in C belonged to Bell?

        Remember how long that was true? As measured in picoseconds?

        There are no closed source languages. That's an urban legend. You can try to booby-trap a language, like MS tried to do to Java, but that won't work, either. You may recollect that MS failed in that effort, expensively(!).

        It's almost impossible to encumber open source software by using proprietary tools. That's a self-serving tale told by the proprietary vendors, and false.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:44PM (#12548020)
          The problem isn't the language, it's the libraries. Java, .NET, Perl, Python, Ruby, etc have complex standard libraries. This is expecially true for Java, which includes far more of the GUI system and other OS-specific features as part of the standard library.

          In essense, Java == C++ plus the C++ standard library plus Win32. It's simple to code portable C++ if you use only the C++ standard libraries, but the moment you start using Win32, you have a portability problem. Until something like WINElib makes the Win32 layer portable, any exclusive use of Win32 in a C++ project locks out Linux and other free OSes.

          That's the problem. GNU/CLASSPATH has made outstanding progress lately, but it hasn't yet reimplemented all the Java libraries. It'll take some time before it does. Until then, using functions/classes that are not implemented in GNU/CLASSPATH will be a problem for any open source software.

        • Remember the bad old days when the brand-new language "C" was owned by Bell Labs, and they claimed anything you wrote in C belonged to Bell?

          Remember how long that was true? As measured in picoseconds?

          There are no closed source languages. That's an urban legend. You can try to booby-trap a language, like MS tried to do to Java, but that won't work, either. You may recollect that MS failed in that effort, expensively(!).

          What you say is true...until someone like Sun patents a language feature

        • Some AC already made most of the points here, however I will parrot my opinion. As the AC said, the language means nothing today. It is all about the class libraries. Sun has not release all of their class libraries, why do you think RMS complained about all those import sun.* stuff? The same goes for MS and .Net. Sure, C# the language is a standard. But C# by itself is not very useful. There is no point in using C# over C or C++ if you leave out all of the .Net framework. That framework that MS made
      • you don't develop open source code with a closed source language. It defeats the purpose of it being open. Linus found out the hardway

        Linus used Java in the kernel?! There I was thinking it was getting faster, and it was because he was rewriting Java code in C all along!

        Seriously, the BitKeeper debate has nothing to do with this. He was given a free licence, which was then revoked, as was allowed by the terms of the licence. How is that like Java? If Sun went belly-up tomorrow and/or abandoned Java, I st
        • by jimicus (737525) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:41PM (#12547991)
          He was given a free licence, which was then revoked, as was allowed by the terms of the licence. How is that like Java?

          The concern was that OO.o was using proprietary extensions to Java which aren't well documented and are exclusive to Sun.

          That being the case, Sun going belly-up isn't the issue. Sun going all SCO and announcing that from now on anything using their version of Java will have to pay $699 for a license is.
          • by sbrown123 (229895) on Monday May 16, 2005 @06:58PM (#12549476) Homepage
            The Java API *is* well documented. The problem with the extensions is that the open source JVMs (GCJ in particular) did not handle them correctly. This is not a big deal. Someone should report the bugs with GCJ to the project's bugzilla -or- help fix GCJ to get it to work. This was the result of the conflict anyways:

            The FSF, Stallman explained, did not have a preference for other programming languages over Java. It simply wanted assurance that any Java code would be compatible with free implementations of Java. After discussion options with Carr, he suggested that the Free Software Foundation would concentrate on expanding the GCJ efforts

            Yep. Conflict solved. OO.o can stay free of Sun's JVM if it wishes and GCJ gets some bugs exorcised. Everyone wins.
    • It will happen when one comes up against differences of licensing, most notably when working with GPL, less so with LGPL and rarely with BSD, which is often not restrictive enough.

      If you're an author and may ever work with third-party libraries, plug-ins or, in the future, web services, multiply license your work and make sure LGPL is in the list.

      Most of my work has been GPL or BSD, but in retrospect I'd have better with a medium-severity license like the Lesser/Library GPL. Read RMS's article about wh

    • by Jason Earl (1894) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:35PM (#12547932) Homepage Journal

      The folks at Sun did get to choose the tools, that's why they used Java. If the Free Software Foundation had chosen the tools then OO.org would probably use guile or some other Free Software tool.

      The problem, of course, is that OO.org's new Java stuff didn't work with any of the Free Software JVMs. Now, that may not seem like a problem to you, but that's precisely the sort of thing that gets the folks at the Free Software Foundation worked up. So what did the FSF do? It looked into forking the OO.org code and replacing the Java dependencies with Free Software. The FSF hackers wanted a version of OO.org that they could use on a completely Free system, and they were willing to put in the work to make such a beast happen. The folks at Sun have a long history of dealing with the FSF, and they knew that the last thing that they wanted to see was a Java-free FSF fork of OO.org that would draw potential hackers away from their codebase. This is especially true considering the fact that distributions like Red Hat (and Fedora), Debian, and many others would almost certainly use the Free Software fork of OO.org by default. So Sun offered to cooperate more with the hackers working on running OO.org on gcj.

      That's nothing more than straightforward diplomacy. Neither side got what they really wanted, but it was close enough that the two sides are willing to work together. The FSF would much rather have gcj be the default Java for OO.org, and it would like to see the documentation and everything else reflect the use of gcj and not Sun's proprietary Java, but that's not what the FSF is going to get. What the FSF is going to get is that Sun is going to include fixes that will allow you to use gcj into the main branch of OO.org. My guess is that Sun is going to do just enough for the FSF so that it isn't tempted to fork OO.org.

      Personally, I am glad that the two groups worked things out. However, if they hadn't worked things out I would probably have used the FSF branch of OO.org simply because that's what Debian would be able to put into main. Debian's packaging system has spoiled me so badly that I now hate having to manage software myself.

    • If OSS it is about freedom, why do they make it difficult for us to choose a non free development method?

      Which is more free? 1) A society that allows you to vote for the end of elections, or 2) a society that protects you from doing so?
      The principle holds here. Freedom does not necessarily lie in maximizing the number choices.

  • The concessions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:48PM (#12547365) Homepage Journal
    only official Java APIs are allowed to be used

    This was already being done. There was a plugin interface that hooked into the AWT layer of the JVM, but that was something that was easily replacable by other VMs. Previous versions of OOo (probably from back when it was StarDivision property) used hidden APIs, but this was cleaned up in the 2.0 edition.

    Java JRE interested parties provide the support code and take care
    of QA, bugs etc.


    This sounds like they're moving the plugin code out of OpenOffice and into the JVM. Technically, this is where it belongs, but it's always nice to be able to support the largest number of VMs possible.

    OOo Java implementations must be encapsulated with well specified APIs

    This is just good engineering design. If you can't produce readable JavaDocs from it, it isn't a good API.

    OOo Java implementations must not check against Java versions or
    vendors, with the only exception of workarounding bugs


    Again, this is just common sense. Checking version numbers is a good way to nail yourself in the foot on future releases.

    OOo Java implementations must not use swing, either because no free
    swing implemetation is available or because it makes the user interface
    inconsistent, this rule might be relativated in respect to 4


    This is just common sense anyway. Using Swing would be detrimental to the GUI unless it was decided that the entire GUI framework would move at once. Such a decision would involve the entire OOo community.

    the Java baseline is 1.3.1

    This is the only concession I see being made. (1.4 & 1.5 have some *really* nice features.)

    The amusing part about this is that the whole tirade against Java in OOo is nothing but a farce. A quick check of the 2.0 code finds almost nothing that violates these "concessions", and they amount to nothing more than diplomacy anyway. (i.e. The art of saying "nice doggy" until you can find a big stick.)

    The truth is that Sun has bent over backwards for the OSS community, and all they get for their troubles are painful stabs in the back. Yeah, Sun's got some loud mouths working for them. But their actions have ALWAYS been honorable. Despite all the nonsense about "contamination", has anyone EVER had Sun sue them? I've certainly never heard of a case! And when Sun realized that the language was confusing, they updated future source releases [java.net] with new language [java.net] that EXPLICITY gives developers rights to whatever they remember. So no more excuses! If you want an OS Java platform, code it. Sun sure as hell isn't standing in your way.

    BTW, Mr. Stallman. How's Hurd coming along?
    • Re:The concessions (Score:2, Interesting)

      by GigsVT (208848)
      Your "common sense" is not too common when it comes to most Java apps I have ever attempted to use.

      There are two possible conclusions. Either all Java developers are idiots, too stupid to learn a real language, or these are important rules to nail down before they become problems. Since the former obviously isn't true, it must be the latter.
    • Re:The concessions (Score:5, Insightful)

      by squiggleslash (241428) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:05PM (#12547580) Homepage Journal
      *shrug* The concern Stallman had was that OOo wouldn't be compatable with (real and hypothetical) Free Java implementations, a legitimate concern given the difficulty of restricting one's self to an "official" API. Sun themselves had the same problem when Microsoft came out with their own Java implementation, they were extremely concerned that people would create programs that would only run under Microsoft's JVM.

      They actually sued Microsoft over it. I don't know if you remember.

      You may feel that the good-practice inspired guidelines are stuff the OOo team would have done anyway, and that's well and good, but as nobody was sure that was actually what would have happened, it was worth the FSF talking to the OOo people to make sure.

      I await the news about Linus rewriting Linux in Sun's Java. Now, that'll be some flamewar, as you'll get all the "If an obscure proprietary method happens to be best for the job, Linus is absolutely right to use it and make the entire Linux kernel dependent on it!" apologists flaming those who do not consider wearing someone else's handcuffs "practical".

      • Re:The concessions (Score:3, Informative)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) *
        The concern Stallman had was that OOo wouldn't be compatable with (real and hypothetical) Free Java implementations, a legitimate concern given the difficulty of restricting one's self to an "official" API.

        Go program Java for a little while. The "hidden" APIs are not a necessary evil, or in any way desirable to use. The very design of the Java platform is so open that those APIs are almost impossible and completely unncessary to use. Pretty much all examples of this usage comes from the 1.1 days when a f
      • *shrug* The concern Stallman had was that OOo wouldn't be compatable with (real and hypothetical) Free Java implementations, a legitimate concern given the difficulty of restricting one's self to an "official" API.

        I find it amusing that RMS is looking to ensure that a project will be compatable with 'Free' version of a language that was created, developed, fostered and made acceptable by a closed source company. Why isnt he promoting the use of a fully 'Free' language, like Python or similiar (no, Im

    • Re:The concessions (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Soko (17987) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:07PM (#12547610) Homepage
      The truth is that Sun has bent over backwards for the OSS community, and all they get for their troubles are painful stabs in the back.

      *Sigh*

      This is not about whether Sun is a benevolent company or not, or if Java is a good solution or not.

      Is Java nice? Yup. Is it the right tool for the job? Obviously.

      Are most of the people at Sun trying to be a good OSS citizens? You betcha.

      Is Java Free Software? Nope. Not yet, it isn't.

      That's where all of the problems stem from.

      What if Sun suddenly did turn malevolent (Schwartz - one of the loud mouths - is no fan of the GPL, after all) could they do real damage? Yup.

      If a malevolent entity bought Sun - with a depressed Sun stock, it's a real possibility - could that entity do damage? Oh boy, you bet.

      It's not stabbing Sun in the back - it's protecting the backs of OSS developers and users now and in the future.

      Soko
      • Re:The concessions (Score:2, Insightful)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) *
        Is Java Free Software? Nope. Not yet, it isn't.

        Would you like to explain to me WHY THIS IS SUN'S PROBLEM? They have given everything away except for the actual rights to Java itself. If the GNU Foundation can't produce an Open JVM based on open specs and fully available source code, THAT IS THEIR PROBLEM.

        If a malevolent entity bought Sun - with a depressed Sun stock, it's a real possibility - could that entity do damage? Oh boy, you bet.

        If a malevolent entity hit Linus with a bus and acquired his Linu
        • Re:The concessions (Score:4, Informative)

          by node 3 (115640) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:33PM (#12547908)
          Come off this nonsense people. Sun is not losing money hand over fist (they're more or less breaking even right now), and they've made it perfectly possible for others to replicate their technology. Why is the OSS community blaming their failure to do so on Sun?

          You keep turning this into an attack on Sun, and it's not. It's an attack on OOo's reliance on Java, which introduces compatibility problems with Free Software.

          In other words, you keep *completely* missing the point.

          Sun doesn't have to make Java Open Source, but that's not the issue at hand, is it? Relying on Java is not FSF-friendly, so the FSF will try to convince that project to "stay the course", as it were. There's nothing wrong or "nonsensical" about this at all.
        • Re:The concessions (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Soko (17987)
          Would you like to explain to me WHY THIS IS SUN'S PROBLEM? They have given everything away except for the actual rights to Java itself. If the GNU Foundation can't produce an Open JVM based on open specs and fully available source code, THAT IS THEIR PROBLEM.

          No reason to shout. The GNU Foundation not having a JVM isn't Suns problem at all. It is still a problem, however, and one that needed to be dealt with.

          If a malevolent entity hit Linus with a bus and acquired his Linux trademarks, and with the numbe
        • Re:The concessions (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Vellmont (569020)

          Would you like to explain to me WHY THIS IS SUN'S PROBLEM?

          I don't know if it's "sun's problem", but I would say it's a problem for sun. The problem is that no major linux distribution includes a JVM in its distribution. That makes the Java language far less usefull to developers. If you can't count on a JVM being on a machine, you then have to go through machinations to include a JVM in your software. Even that's difficult since Sun won't let you re-package the JVM.

          How is that Suns problem? Well it

      • *Sigh*

        Is Java Free Software? Nope. Not yet, it isn't.


        *Cough*

        Excuse me, but Java IS Free. That is, GCJ and the Classpath version. That is Java, and it's Free. It's hard to put it any more plainly, when the whole artcle was about making sure OOo used Free Java!!!

        The Sun VM is not Free. But the Sun JVM is not Java. It's an instance of it.

        I never even understood why this was such a big deal when the solution outlined in the story was the obvious way forward - make sure OOo works with GCJ. Problem s
        • Excuse me, but Java IS Free. That is, GCJ and the Classpath version. That is Java, and it's Free.

          Which I fully agree is the solution to the whole problem.

          I was merely trying to temper the GPs obvious cry of "Sun would never hurt OSS!" with some reality, is all.

          Soko
      • Agree with a lot of what you've written, but since when is the GPL the sole Free Software licence? Schwartz detesting the GPL doesn't in any way heighten the fear that Sun could suddenly malevolent and do damage to the Free Software movement. Bringing in such arguments to the table is usually termed creating FUD.
        • That was pulled in as an example, in order to illustrate why using Java - without a Free implementation - would leave the FSF et. al. vulnerable to a nasty set of circunmstances. I should have prefaced it with "For example, ", I imagine.

          Soko
    • Re:The concessions (Score:5, Insightful)

      by node 3 (115640) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:07PM (#12547616)
      This is the only concession I see being made.

      Prior to this "agreement", all the rest of the terms you dismiss were not certain, the OOo team could have violated them for practical reasons at any time. Now that'll be much more unlikely. The FSF is being quite rational in criticizing the inclusion of Java code into the OOo project. The OOo team has agreed to not fall into the potential traps that the FSF fears. This is, on the whole, a very good thing.

      The amusing part about this is that the whole tirade against Java in OOo is nothing but a farce.

      In your clearly anti-FSF biased opinion, perhaps. You're not an idealist, but a pragmatist, OK, no big deal. But you'd have to be one hell of a cynic as well, to call it a "farce".

      The truth is that Sun has bent over backwards for the OSS community

      Prefacing the statement with "the truth is" doesn't make it true. What has Sun done that constitutes "bending over backwards"? In the OSS community, "bending over backwards" tends to mean making your code open source.

      Despite all the nonsense about "contamination", has anyone EVER had Sun sue them?

      Does the name "Microsoft" ring a bell?

      BTW, Mr. Stallman. How's Hurd coming along?

      What's that got to do with Java and OOo? Or is it just an ad hominem? I don't know who you are, but it's a good bet that Stallman has done more to make my life better than you ever will. A cheap shot won't change that, either.
      • by Jamesday (794888) on Monday May 16, 2005 @05:05PM (#12548216)
        The FSF was being irrational. There was a JVM licensed with an FSF license which wasn't compatible with the latest Java standards. Instead of advocating fixing the broken code, Stallman was apparently advocating not using anything which didnt work with the broken code, to the point of forking a major project to avoid fixing that broken code. That's hardly an example of good programming ethics. Fix the bugs, don't complain about others not working around them.
    • ...and KHTML. Would you rather that kind of relationship existed between Sun and OOo? So far, what Sun has value-added to OOo is minimal and has not affected the overall operation of OOo. You don't see Sun making impossible changes to OOo like Apple has with KHTML.

      Is KHTML benefiting from Apple? Sure. Much? Not compared to what Apple is getting out of it. I thank God the situation is different here. While I understand Stallman's point, I just wish there was a little more respect or understanding for Sun's
    • by hey! (33014) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:42PM (#12547999) Homepage Journal
      BTW, Mr. Stallman. How's Hurd coming along?

      Really, your post I thought was pretty good, but this last bit doesn't do the rest justice. Hurd doesn't have the mindshare to make the kind of rapid progress Linux does. What's that to you?

      The bottom line here is that Stallman has an agenda. A political agenda. A political agenda based on his philosophical principles. What's wrong with that? And, in this case, he was able to draw some attention to, and to advance the aims of his political agenda. Which is what people with political agendas do.

      Since, in the end, he didn't really do any harm to OO, and may even bring it some resources it needs (developers and testers), the final results are win-win, which is an uncommonly good outcome for a political dispute. Granted, a person with a more personable character might have got to the win-win scenario with considerably less heat and fuss, but unfortunately, my experience is that by in large the world effectively ignores those kinds of people unless they have the kind of credibility that only comes with having piles of money at their command. If things were different, then the world would probably be a better place.

      Even good people rarely place principle as high as convenience. Incidents like the recent Linuxworld editor ultimatum over Ms. O'Gara's nastiness are, unfortunately, a rarity. For most of the rest of us, principles are really just a vague, far away abstraction, whereas convenience and profit are very clear and immediate. Right and wrong would never play a role in any decision we make, if it weren't for the fear of exposure.

      So, we are stuck with gadflies, who vary widely in their admirability, but are universally unlikeable. Nobody enjoys being on the receiving end of a sting, which in every case is bound to seem overly harsh and unjustified. As unpleasant as they are to have around, gadflies play an important function. And if you don't like having them around, consider how fortunate you are not to be one. While I'm sure it has it's rewards, being driven against the current of the world must be a frustrating existence.
    • Re:The concessions (Score:3, Informative)

      by fforw (116415)

      But their actions have ALWAYS been honorable. Despite all the nonsense about "contamination", has anyone EVER had Sun sue them?

      Well.. it was not Sun, but ..

      From The History of the GPL:

      In the early years (1984 to 1988), the GNU Project did not have a single license to cover all its software. What led Stallman to the creation of this copyleft license was his experience with James Gosling, creator of NeWs and the Java programming language, and UniPress, over Emacs. While Stallman created the firs

  • Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:49PM (#12547378)
    "Points out his Newsforge about a something good..." Is this a quote from Zero Wing?
  • Unbiased (Score:5, Informative)

    by zoloto (586738) on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:53PM (#12547432)
    It is not an easy thing to write a balanced and informing article about this issue, but Bruce Byfield suceeded in this and we all owe him our thanks for that. I think that there is a great deal of good will on both sides of this discussion and we should *all* try as hard as we can to built upon this good will. By calling each other names we can only all end up loosing. We need not always fully agree with each other, but we should try to accommodate each other as much as possible and try to stress that which we have in common.

    This was also posted on the NF page.
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:58PM (#12547504)
    Well why not, after the damage is done and they have made themselves look very very stupid.
  • by jmmcd (694117) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:02PM (#12547544) Homepage
    The interesting thing here is that Richard Stallman's zealotry/passion (delete as appropriate) had the effect of improving something: "Stallman has learned that efforts to compile OpenOffice.org using the GNU Compiler for Java (GCJ) were close to success, and has amended the call to a request for help in continuing this work."

    As opposed to the type of zealotry which some people say is killing Debian.

    • The best thing of all is if a really stable Free version of Java comes about, then there is no "Java Trap" anymore.

      That really was the most efficient solution, and Stallman being the eminent software developer realized this when he had all the facts.

      Really I feel it unfair to label Stallman a "zealot" when really it should be more like "informed and stubborn for the good of all".
    • Red Hat has a number of people who are working full time on free Java, and they've done a lot of work on getting OpenOffice to work with the free implementations.
  • by ishmalius (153450) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:03PM (#12547560)
    Can someone show me the complaints coming from the OpenOffice developers? I didn't see any. They seem to be doing all the work. They seem to be the ones with the conciliatory attitude. They seem to be making the changes in the interest of peace.

    What concessions did the "other side" make?

  • Bottom line: policy

    "What we need is a way to distribute a version of OpenOffice that we can count on not to encourage people to use any non-free programs. If the developers of OpenOffice want to maintain their version with this policy, that would be ideal. Until recently I assumed that they did maintain it this way, but it appears they don't: with the current policies, any release of OpenOffice might depend on a non-free program merely because that was the fastest way to implement something. (...) We need
  • Wanting to help out? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Check http://developer.classpath.org/mediation/OpenOffic e2GCJ4 [classpath.org]

    Feedback wanted on how the different distributions are handling this, plus pacakge build instructions.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:13PM (#12547675) Homepage Journal
    I'm shocked that Stallman allows GNU software to run on patented microprocessors and copyrighted, proprietary BIOS'es, without declaring jihad.
    • Re:double standards (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kebes (861706)
      Your post may be intended as a joke, but Stallman is indeed pushing for free BIOS'es. [slashdot.org] He probably supports open designs for devices too. He certainly supports well-documented interfaces for all hardware. If you read Stallman's writings, it's clear that he identifies a difference between physical objects and ideas. Physical objects (including hardware) will always have costs associated with production, which is quite different from the comparatively effortless reproduction and distribution of software/ideas.
    • Stallman has a bit of pragmatism in him. If you notice, before there was a viable kernel to run all the GNU code on, he didn't complain bitterly about people who ported it to whatever random proprietary Unix they wanted to run it on.

      I agree with him. Relying on proprietary BIOSes is the way to get something like Palladium snuck into your computer and suddenly preventing you from running anything on it the manufacturer doesn't approve of. Goodbye general purpose computing.

      As for patented microprocessor

  • by syntap (242090) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:15PM (#12547707)
    Many in the OSS community believe in soup-to-nuts software freedom, i.e. not only should the source to an app be open, but dependencies shouldn't exist on non-open software or libraries.

    The proposal to use GCJ was a good one, and I think raising these issues benefits open source even though it exposes the frictions between the players in the movement.
  • They're forking the code so it can be compiled with CGJ (GNU compiler for java).

    Ta-da.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:18PM (#12547729) Homepage
    This controversy won't be over until there's an OpenOffice distribution avaialble that requires no proprietary code whatsoever.

    The reason this is so important is that if all the source is openly available, nobody can make it go away. It's essential to avoid "drug dealer marketing" - the first one is free, but then it's going to cost you. There have been too many products that started out "open", and then started to cost money once they had users locked in.

    The typical progression for psuedo-free software is

    • The product is free for download. A user community emerges.
    • A new version comes out, with modest restrictions and price, and the free version is deprecated.
    • The free version disappears.
    • The price goes up, and copy protection is added.
    • Market share declines.

    Examples are Intellicad [intellicad.com], Sendmail [sendmail.com], and QNX [qnx.com]

    • Nice examples. You might want to add mp3, which owes it popularity to source code without a license attached uploaded to the ISO.

      Between about 1995 and 1998 a massive user community emerged. Then Fraunhofer Gesselschaft emerged after the silence and wanted $10,000 US per codec-using program (even the OSS ones).
  • by nietsch (112711) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:19PM (#12547743) Homepage Journal
    Given some of the hostility to the larger community within OpenOffice.org, as well as Stallman's determination, deciding on the solutions and implementing them could still create problems. For now, though, at least the two sides are talking and trying to cooperate -- and free software advocates will get a version of OpenOffice.org they can install without pangs of conscience.


    Nice article, until he makes it sound like having priciples is a bad thing. The issue with FSF is not one of "conscience" but of licenses that can/will be an impedient of free use of the software. This goes beyond conscience and ventures into the realm of property rights that typically can deny others of free use. That is why Stallman in the past warned of the issue of using Sun Java.

    I think OOo need to look at FSF as representing customers that have a particular demand and accomodate that demand. All too often critics misuse the word "conscience" to disparage FSF community (customers) demands.

    This is simple "marketing 101" -- listen to the demands of your customers
  • by CritterNYC (190163) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:22PM (#12547778) Homepage
    Personally, I was more than a bit disheartened when I first found out about how much of OOo 2.0 required Java. While Portable OpenOffice 1.1.4 [johnhaller.com] worked quite well on machines without Sun's JRE installed, I was rather worried how Portable OpenOffice 2.0 would fare (just compiled a test alpha using the latest UPX beta, etc). If they split out a version that didn't require Java installed, I'd probably base Portable OpenOffice on that instead.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...is why I use AbiWord and Gnumeric.
  • by Theovon (109752) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:32PM (#12547894)
    It's interesting that OOo has become so influential that the FSF has decided to poke their noses into it. I for one think that making OOo's java code work with GCJ is a great idea and makes it easier on those of us who don't want to have to download Sun's VM. But I also find it a big disturbing that the FSF has the gall to make demands on projects they don't own.
  • ... shows a surprisingly conciliatory attitude on both sides.

    The FSF, at least, is run by grownups, and I have no reason to doubt that there are grownups in charge at OO.org.

    Given that, why would we be surprised that they looked for a constructive way to settle their differences?

  • by codepunk (167897) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:59PM (#12548178)
    Lets just put a stop to the java zeolots right here and now...

    If you cannot package and distribute the application
    "with the JVM" it is not and never will be free.

    I happen to like java, but I sure would never use it in something I was gonna distribute.
    • Stop spreading FUD (Score:3, Informative)

      by JediTrainer (314273)
      Seems to me [sun.com] that you can distribute the JVM without difficulty from Sun. To quote:

      The J2SE platform and the JRE are free to download and to use for commercial programming. They are also free to redistribute, if distributed with a value-add application or applet.

      Seems to me that OpenOffice.org qualifies for that.
      • (d) you do not distribute additional software intended
        to replace any
        component(s) of the Software,

        From:http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.5.0/j2sdk-1_5_0- ne tbean-4_0-cobundle-license.txt

        Seems to me this imparts Sun the right to stop any Linux or BSD distro from distributing any other non-Sun Java project.
        How does that sound to you? Restrictive?

  • by pavera (320634) on Monday May 16, 2005 @05:16PM (#12548311) Homepage Journal
    I use the open office beta every day.
    I don't have java installed.

    All of the functionality that worked in 1.0+ works better in 2.0, and I don't use any of the additional features. Obviously, some people will want to use those features, but wow, aren't we always the ones yelling at MS for their stupid "wizards" and now we're mad cause we can't use the OOo ones? And isn't MS Access the bane of all db developers everywhere? And now we're upset cause we can't use our own half assed, not nearly as nice version of Access?

    Seriously people I don't understand. OOo 2.0 is not "crippled" without java, it works just fine for 100% of the existing (ie 1.0) functionality, and all you're missing is some gay wizards, and a half baked db frontend that crashes all the time. I installed java for about 10 minutes to check out the java features, and then uninstalled it, cause well they sucked. I know this is only a beta release and I'm sure 2.0 will be better.. but it won't be anywhere close to usable, not for anything remotely real.
  • by cahiha (873942) on Monday May 16, 2005 @06:24PM (#12549025)
    Sun seems to have a clear strategy of trying to incorporate their proprietary version of Java into open source projects: Mozilla, OpenOffice, Gnome, Apache, etc. But a piece of software ceases to be free when it depends in an essential way on proprietary software.

    Fortunately, open source developers are noticing this more and more and are starting to take countermeasures. Hopefully, in the long term, this will lead to unencumbered versions of Java becoming available and acceptable.
  • Java Trap Illusion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by virtigex (323685) on Monday May 16, 2005 @06:27PM (#12549055)
    This whole issue seems totally unnecessary. Stallman's "Java Trap" is only relevant because FOSS implementations such as GCJ do not implement the full Java 5 standard. The solution to this would be update or make a FOSS version of Java that implements Java 5. It's not a trap if there is an obvious way out. If you don't want to go the obvious way out (because it takes too much effort), then the only thing that is trapping you is your attitude.
    Also The Harmony project [slashdot.org] (if it is successful) would seem to lay to rest any FOSS advocate's qualms about Java.
  • FSF programmers... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:09AM (#12552665) Homepage
    There are close to none these days. FSF is mainly a legal and political organization. Programming on GNU projects is done by volunteers, or contributed by other organizations.

    Of course, you can be a volunteer programmer for FSF working on OO.o, but that is hardly different from being a volunteer programmer working on OO.o.

    What you can do is to be a volunteer on OO.o and be aware of the need of the GNU project ( acompletely free system). Which I suspect is what RMS hoped for in the first place.

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