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Father of Java, James Gosling Unloads 337

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the java-and-java dept.
javab0y writes "The folks over at basementcoders did a podcast with James Gosling, The Father of Java, last week at a coffee shop in San Francisco during the JavaOne conference. In a raw and no-holds-barred interview, James let loose on Oracle, the Google Lawsuit, and his experience with IBM. You know its going to be good when he starts out saying, 'I eventually graduated in '83. Went to work for IBM which is, you know, is within the top 10 of my stupidest career decisions I've made.' The podcast was fully transcribed."
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Father of Java, James Gosling Unloads

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  • by potemcam (1911094) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:14PM (#33728940) Homepage
    It was an hour long interview recorded on a handheld device, and we (basementcoders & TheServerSide) tried to get the transcription out as quickly as possible so those who didn't have the time to listen to the hour long interview could at the very least read through it. There's a few typos in there that we'll fix soon enough, but putting that aside, you really get to the heart of what's driving Gosling and what he hopes for the future of Java.
    • by mbkennel (97636)

      "There's a few typos in there that we'll fix soon enough, but putting that aside, you really get to the heart of what's driving Gosling and what he hopes for the future of Java."

      I didn't get any of that.

      All I got is:
      a) the future of Java is controlled by Wicked Larry Ellison.
      b) Jim Gosling wishes the future of Java were not controlled by Wicked Larry Ellison, but it is.

      Can anybody answer: What is driving Gosling? And what is the future of Java?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hope he makes a new language called "Foam"... you know, what goes on top of a good cup of coffee?

  • by syousef (465911) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:19PM (#33728978) Journal

    I have plenty of respect for the guy's technical prowess. He was definitely also in the right place at the right time but also undoubtedly technically brilliant. And yet he runs his career like a schoolboy. You just don't go around openly rubbishing former employers like that as it makes prospective employers wary. After all you'll probably rubbish them when you're done too. I wonder how many opportunities he's missed acting that way.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:28PM (#33729050)
      Pft, I suspect given his reputation he doesn't have much to worry about. I'm more amused at how people react with horror at someone actually being open and honest. It's one of the reasons I'm glad to be self employed. I might not make as much as if I sold my soul to the highest bidder, but at least I still have it. I see cubicle drones constantly horrified by the idea of people who aren't owned and bought. What the fuck happened to you to make you like that!
      • by kill-1 (36256)

        Amen.

      • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:57AM (#33731018) Journal

        I'm more amused at how people react with horror at someone actually being open and honest.

        There's honesty and there's honesty. For example if your spouse puts on weight and asks you if she has you might be able to honestly answer "Yeah you've turned into a real pig honey. Lay off the chocolate and get off your arse" or "Yes, you've put on a little weight, but it's nothing you can't fix, and I still adore you". Which one do you think is better for your relationship?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Cro Magnon (467622)

          Yeah, it's like the time my GF asked if her dress made her look fat. I gave an honest answer, "No dear, it doesn't". I saw no point in saying that the dress had nothing to do with it.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:33PM (#33729094)

      You just don't go around openly rubbishing former employers like that as it makes prospective employers wary. After all you'll probably rubbish them when you're done too. I wonder how many opportunities he's missed acting that way.

      I'd like to think there are employers who are more concerned with "What can he do for us?" rather than "OMG, what will he say about US in a few years?!? He might hurt our feeeeeellliiiinnngs!!!" Employers who fret about things like that are employers I don't really want to work for.

      I don't work on computers, but I find it hard to believe that in his field, you could be brilliant and find yourself unemployable because you said working for X company was a mistake.

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:34PM (#33729098)

      I bet he missed none he wanted. He is at a point where he does not need to worry about that.

      I find it really sad that you are saying this, true but sad that speaking the truth is so startling. One reason why I refuse to work at any big company.

    • by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:35PM (#33729106)
      1. He invented one of the most popular languages of all time.
      2. This isn't your typical dime a dozen BSCS or BSEE cubical wage slave that be easily replaced.
      3. Unlike the folks in #2, he can say, "I created billions of dollars worth of revenue for x,y,z"

      Of course he'll get hired - even by big unimaginative corporations who like their cookie-cutter employees.

    • by HeloWorld (1014739) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:41PM (#33729152)
      Your posting is rather humorous given that you are talking about one of the major icons of the technology world. James Gosling doesn't have to worry about finding a "job". Having been a vice-president at Sun for many years I think he is well beyond needing someone to give him a job. And, having been one of the major contributors to the industry he is very well situated to criticize the industry for it's many mistakes.
    • by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:49PM (#33729206) Journal

      Or you get picked up by companies whose CEOs also think Larry Ellison is a dick.

      Meaning Gosling just reduced his range employment choices by 1.

    • by RichardDeVries (961583) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @07:00PM (#33729326) Journal

      I don't know how to jolt myself into seeing what each moment could become. But I do know one thing: the solution doesn't involve watering down my every little idea and creative impulse for the sake of some day easing my fit into a mold. It doesn't involve tempering my life to better fit someone's expectations. It doesn't involve constantly holding back for fear of shaking things up.

      Some xkcd's become clichés for a reason. This is one of them. xkcd 137 [xkcd.com].

      • by russotto (537200)

        Some xkcd's become clichés for a reason. This is one of them. xkcd 137 [xkcd.com].

        I see your xkcd and raise you TWO demotivators: Dreams [despair.com] and Get To Work [despair.com].

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      Sometimes it pays to have a reputation for telling it like it is. I have been training customers when I did that and my employer didn't like it but sometimes a relationship needs to be repaired and the only way is to open the books so to speak so I get to do that.

    • by Drishmung (458368)

      I have plenty of respect for the guy's technical prowess. He was definitely also in the right place at the right time but also undoubtedly technically brilliant. And yet he runs his career like a schoolboy. You just don't go around openly rubbishing former employers like that as it makes prospective employers wary. After all you'll probably rubbish them when you're done too. I wonder how many opportunities he's missed acting that way.

      Yeah, look what happened to Tony Li. Oh, wait...

  • Times have changed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:20PM (#33728982)
    Back when I was in high school and java was new I was taking a comp sci class where we were given the names of important people in the IT industry and asked to write a report on who they were and why they're important. I googled his name on altavista.com (there was no google) and found nothing (no wikipedia at the time) except an email address at Sun. So I emailed him a list of everything I needed to know and promptly received a reply. Good luck reaching any IT big wig these days.
  • by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:29PM (#33729060) Homepage

    I went in expecting Gosling to have formulated this whole platform full of talking points why Oracle should do this, that, and the other, but instead I got a pretty cogent assessment which jibes with just about everything I suspected as an outsider. Oracle exists to make money and is very aggressive in its tactics: true. Android violates Sun patents: true. He even goes so far to say he would have no problem with Oracle maintaining stewardship of Java if it does right by the community (though he's a little unclear what he's referring to there).

    The interviewers seem more eager to go with the whole "Oracle is the Devil" angle than Gosling. Gosling seems to more be saying Oracle has a tendency to be a bully, and who can argue with that?

    On the other hand, I wish someone could have gone through the transcript and done a global search-and-replace for "intel" and "cosign," at least...

  • The Google lawsuit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VGR (467274) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:35PM (#33729104)
    Mr. Gosling feels the Google lawsuit is just Oracle's noticing an opportunity to squeeze money out of Google:

    James Gosling: ...I'm sure they were looking at the license fees they were getting from Microsoft. Microsoft .NET just smears over a huge pile of Sun patents. When they did the .NET design, they basically cut and pasted from the Java spec. The way that they did CLR, you know they swizzled the way the instruction set went but the way this thing really operated, they exercised essentially no creativity when coming up with .NET. They've done some things since then that have been kind of good but as part of the various court cases we ended up with this rather odd patent deal with them that involved them paying us fairly tasty amounts of money. And I'm sure that the lawyers looked at the Microsoft numbers and said, yeah I want that from Google

    I actually did not know, until today, that Microsoft was paying a Java patent license fee for .NET's design.

    Just before he said the above, he said this, which is probably obvious to many people, but I found it poignant all the same:

    James Gosling: With Oracle it doesn't have to make sense, it just has to make money.

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      With Oracle it doesn't have to make sense, it just has to make money.

      That quote describes most of their software!

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @10:32PM (#33730456) Journal

      I noticed that quote, too, but it goes deeper than it seems from the first glance. Just think about it: you may be sued by Oracle for violating JVM patents if you use Mono!

  • The interview was entertaining and somewhat insightful. I wish the interviewers would've asked more details about Gosling's current doings, what aspects of NoSQL he's working on, details about the languages, etc. Too much space was allocated to Oracle Venting. I wish the interviewers or Gosling would've devoted more time to more technical stuff and future directions.

    **** out of 5 - great job, Basement Coders!

    pr3d4t0r

  • by sootman (158191) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:39PM (#33729134) Homepage Journal

    I skimmed the whole thing, and read a few good chunks of it, in about 5 minutes. Much better than listening to a full hour-plus of audio. Thanks to whoever did that!

  • by Seakip18 (1106315) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:45PM (#33729184) Journal

    I browsed through the interview and hope I can listen to the podcast soon.

    He says some neat things:

    James Gosling: Various Oracle employees have been instructed not to wear them. I've noticed this is a great tshirt(the "Free Duke" shirt) to wear in big crowds around here because the seas just parts, 'cuz people are like, 'I don't want to be near that.' Which I find really funny. And the whole free java thing is kind of a weird history with me because Sun from day zero is an open source company and this whole weirdness that we have about open source was not a weirdness open source but a weirdness about the actors and the games in the drama.

    James Gosling: Absolutely. I have this love hate thing with Google these days. They can get kind of creepy.

    Moderator: Do you use the browser plug ins that prevent the ads and block and analytic stuff?

    James Gosling: No. I mean, I sometimes do.

    Some...well...things that I don't think I can get behind:

    In the enterprise space, things like Cassandra and Voldemort and some of the NoSQL database. I've never got it when it comes to SQL databases. It's like, why? Just give me a hash table and a shitload of RAM and I'm happy. And then you do something to deal with failures. And you look at the way things like the NoSQL movement is. It's various flavors of large scale distributed hash tables and trying to deal with massive scale and massive replication, and you can't back up the database because no tape farm is big enough. And you find scale and reliability can fit together at the same time

    and some interesting:

    James Gosling: Well that's right, [they](Oracle) didn't own Java, but it just points out, and I don't know how to say it other than to say they were lying, duplicitous shits three years ago and by their turnaround, they're basically admitting that. Oracle is kind of a funny company because they take glory in that. They have no issues with being categorized that way. Some of their PR people might get a little uncomfortable with it, but up at the top, they deeply, deeply don't give a shit.

    I'm still not sure how to regard Oracle right now, but I'm comfortable with the idea that Java needs a permanent and legal separate existence from Oracle.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blair1q (305137)

      Java needs a permanent and legal separate existence from Oracle.

      Won't happen, for reasons Gosling pointed out: it's too big and too widely deployed to be maintained without huge test expense for even the smallest code changes.

      Which is kind of interesting, because all along I've kind of had the supposition that one of the things Sun had done with Java is to streamline that so that the propagation of the effects of changes was no longer unpredictable. I guess they didn't. In fact it sounds like the opposit

      • Normally, I would agree with that sentiment, but then there is LibreOffice coming from OpenOffice.org... so, who knows?
    • by kill-1 (36256)

      I've never got it when it comes to SQL databases. It's like, why? Just give me a hash table and a shitload of RAM and I'm happy.

      This is a stupid statement if I ever read one. No wonder he left Oracle.

  • as an ex-sun guy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:47PM (#33729194)

    I have to laugh at his comments about oracle. and the oracle view of 'The Tee Shirt' (tm).

    speaking of tee shirts, while at sun there was a 'java anniversary party' and mr java himself was there. some cute photos from the event, a few years back (when sun was still kind of fun to be at):

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/221/472512518_4f70840cd2_z.jpg [flickr.com]
    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/19/121342959_449ed7dea0_z.jpg [flickr.com]
    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/202/472513502_682f02afc2_z.jpg [flickr.com]
    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/19/121338473_07823a9da0_z.jpg [flickr.com]

    RIP sun. we all miss you.

    and, duke, please turn out the lights when you leave, okay?

  • by codepunk (167897) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @07:08PM (#33729402)

    Without James I would only have to maintain half the servers I do today and would likely be out of a job.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bigstrat2003 (1058574)

      On the other hand, without him I wouldn't have to try to juggle the fun of "Application x runs only on Java version y, Application xx runs only on Java version z, and Java y and Java z don't get along too well."

      I was angry about this as I started typing, but then I realized that maybe this keeps me employed as well. Damn. :(

  • by melted (227442) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @07:39PM (#33729626) Homepage

    He needs to focus less on freedom, and more on achieving some semblance of feature parity with .NET. Microsoft is so far ahead with C# and CLR it's not even funny anymore. Dear James, why the fuck can't I new up an array of fully specialized generic objects in Java in year 2010? I mean, this is just bizarre crap. And this guy just keeps going around and telling everyone how much of a genius he is.

    • why the fuck can't I new up an array of fully specialized generic objects

      I can't imagine wanting to do that. Arrays were invented because the infrastructure didn't exist for better data structures. Ever heard of Collections?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        In one line you've shown everything thats wrong with computing today.

      • The reason why Java5 generic collections are nowhere nearly as efficient as they could be (and as they are in .NET) is because they build on arrays, which cannot be new'd from generic types - so you have to use boxing for primitives.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by codepunk (167897)

      I am far from a Java fan boy but not oblivious to the fact that it is a much easier task to create a language and vm designed for a single platform.

      • Can you point out what, exactly, in Java language and VM design, as compared to CLR/C#, is made more complicated by targeting different platforms?

      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        True. Perhaps one day Microsoft will do that. But he was talking about C# and .NET, which is designed to be cross-platform, and has 3rd-party implementations for every major OS out there. The specific feature that Melted was asking for is a basic language design feature, and has nothing to do with cross-platform.

      • really? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by yyxx (1812612)

        Python, Perl, Tcl, Lua, and CLR all run on many platforms. Python with Gtk+ or Qt is a much better cross-platform environment than Java: easier to develop for, with better desktop integration, and nicer looking UIs.

        I don't know of any mainstream language or VM other than the old VisualBasic that ran on a single platform. Gtk+, Qt, and wx all are cross-platform toolkits, better than anything Java has ever provided.

        (Besides, Sun didn't even design or develop Swing, they bought it.)

    • ...fully specialized generic objects...

      Maybe it's just me, but I have no idea what this means.

    • by SplashMyBandit (1543257) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @10:38PM (#33730480)
      So far ahead?

      How many platforms does .NET run on? [answer: 1 - Windows]. If you customer is big (bank, government department, military etc) they simply aren't running their biggest systems on Windows and .NET is not even a contender.

      What approximate percentage of the development market (projects, jobsm tools, conferences, books, etc) does C# have relative to Java? [answer: approx 25% according to Tiobe.com; even PHP is a more popular development tool than C#]
      http://www.tiobe.com/index.php/content/paperinfo/tpci/index.html [tiobe.com]

      What development platform has had no epidemics of vulnerabilities when deployed to be the Internet? [Answer: Java; contrast the ASP.Net platform that is was discovered to be *very* badly remotely exploitable in the last few days so much that Microsoft had to issue an emergency out-of-band patch]

      Which development platform is conservative adding features (not worrying about 'trendy' features that get deprecated on the next release) so that massive investments on code are not deprecated by the need of a vendor to sell you a new IDE version every two years? [Answer: Java, not .NET]

      You can keep your shiny new features that affect 2% of your codebase and survive for two years before something replaces them. I'll stick to saving myself time, my customers money, all the while keeping their systems safe. .NET is good for the desktop, it blows in the enterprise (fortunately most enterprise developers know this; only folks with less than a decade of enterprise development experience seem to be under the delusion .NET is a better strategic choice [although it certainly has tactical advantages, but only n00bs get excited about them]).
  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @07:46PM (#33729672) Homepage

    Go to school or not. Go to graduate school or not. Go to IBM or not. Go to Sun or not. Stay at Oracle or not.

    It looks like he's had under 10 career moves total, so by definition aren't all of them in the top 10 worst? (And also all are in the top 10 best).

  • Javva? (that's 2 "v"s, not a w) Is that how you pronounce Java in Canadia?

  • by ilikejam (762039) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @08:15PM (#33729856) Homepage

    Did he stop everyone from working while he cleaned out his desk?

  • by Gorimek (61128) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @09:38PM (#33730192) Homepage

    "IBM's been kind of weird on the whole topic because on the one hand they do everything they can to try and screw Sun over, I mean they didn't name Eclipse casually"

    Never crossed my mind but once pointed out it's obvious that an Eclipse is what can defeat the Sun!

    • Except the Eclipse is mind-boggingly awful compared to NetBeans.

      Sun did not die because they were bad at technology. They died 'cause they were lousy at business. Trying to buy stuff off them was plain hard, you had to wait for their sales guys - no online purchasing where I was (despite all their competitors doing it) which seems unbelievably retarded in this day and age. Their gear was awesome and priced competitively but waiting for humans was such a slow way of doing things they lost sales.
  • let me unload, too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yyxx (1812612) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @02:42AM (#33731526)

    Ok, since he's unloading, let me "unload" too.

    Mr. Gosling, the only reason Java is any good at all is because large numbers of technically competent people (many of them at IBM) fixed up the bad design decisions you made and patched up your horrible implementation. Unfortunately, there are limits to how much one can fix if a language is as broken as Java 1.0 was.

    You have some gall criticizing Dalvik, which runs efficiently, unbloated, and apparently quite securely on millions of phones. The sandbox on your Java design and implementation on the other hand was insecure and buggy both conceptually and in terms of implementation, as a never ending stream of published problems showed. Of course, since Java failed for applets, hardly anybody cares anymore; nowadays, Java's sandbox is just bloat for most users.

    And all the while you were promoting Java as an "open" language, you knew that it was covered by Sun patents that made any independent implementation impossible, what a cynical and evil thing to do.

    Fortunately, its awful UI libraries kept Java from achieving any significance on the desktop or web, and for most server side software, people have developed alternatives based on less bloated platforms that are easier to develop for.

    And of course, it's Java that sucked up all the development resources at Sun without yielding much in terms of revenue; it's the reason Sun eventually went out of business. And mobile Java's poor performance, poor compatibility, and horrible user interface killed mobile applications development until Apple came out with iPhone. What is Java going to kill next?

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson

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