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Two Takes on the Java Dilemma 562

Joe Barr writes "NewsForge is running a pair of excellent commentaries on the plight of Java and the Java development community following the recent "settlement" between longtime rivals Sun and Microsoft. One is by Rick Ross, the articulate leader of JavaLobby, entitled "Where is Java in the settlement?" The second is "Free but shackled: The Java trap" by Richard Stallman. Good reading. Both commentators put their finger on the heart of the problem, albeit from different perspectives." Yes, Newsforge and Slashdot are both owned by OSDN.
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Two Takes on the Java Dilemma

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  • Note that the BileBlog [] has many, many vicious postings on various Java and open source topics - Maven, XDoclet, "J3EE", etc.

    In some cases, though, as they say - "it only hurts because it's true".
  • by medication ( 91890 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @11:04AM (#8837595) Journal
    I think that Sun has a few other 'real' assests still alive and kicking. Among these assets are UltraSparc Servers, Solaris, and Java System Application Server Enterprise. Granted Sun's Application Server doesn't have the presence of a Weblogic or a WebSphere, but with the right investment behind it who knows. As to Sun's UltraSprarc's and the Solaris OS, the numbers I found weren't huge but certainly assest worthy: "Sun had about $50 million in orders for the V210 and V240 servers, Chief Financial Officer Steve McGowan said. The revised systems are in testing and are expected to ship by the end of July or in August, he said." - C|Net []

    I think you might say that they are more than the "one trick pony" that many people believe they are.

  • .NET is vaporware? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kombat ( 93720 ) <> on Monday April 12, 2004 @11:09AM (#8837636) Homepage
    Java has lost to C#, dotNet and whatever Microsoft vaporware-du-jour.

    Uh... what? How is .NET "vaporware?" It *exists*, dude. My company has been using it for a couple of years now, and making good money selling ASP.NET web apps written in C#.

    Did someone change the definition of "vaporware" while I wasn't looking?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2004 @11:11AM (#8837663)
    That's a load of crap. There's nothing UNIX dependent in Perl unless you specifically download a module that's not included in the standard distribution.

    Perl refuses to water itself down to accomodate Windows like Java does. Just because Windows doesn't accomodate forks, signals, etc, doesn't mean it should be elimintated from the language. In Perl, you can still fork on Windows, it just uses an iThread underneath. Signals default to IGNORED.

    So, unless you intentionally downloaded something that is not with the standard Perl distribution, you are blowing smoke up everyone's ass.
  • by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @11:23AM (#8837783)
    RMS's point wasn't that Sun is doing something wrong by holding onto Sun. RMS's point was to say to the Free Software community that any software they write that depends on a non-Free platform, library, whatever is not truly Free. Like he said in the article, this is the same as his beef with KDE - but that beef is now gone thanks to TrollTech going to a dual-license scheme.
    His point is that Free Software developers who choose to use Java are entraping themselves, not that Sun is trying to maliciously entrap developers.

    It's also worth pointing out that at no point in the article was he talking about OSS developers.
  • by ozborn ( 161426 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @11:34AM (#8837865)
    No, he does know what he is talking about. If a programmer uses an object from say java.rmi.server on Sun's platform, who is to say whether this feature is implemented in another virutal machine? Are you familiar with how up to date the dozens of other JVM's are with Sun's latest release of java? If no other JVM is implementing this, then it is effectively sun only, regardless of whether it is prefaced by com.sun or not.

    Also on sun's JVM it doesn't say com.sun, it is all just "java.whatever", "javax.whatever", etc... when you import a package.
  • by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Monday April 12, 2004 @11:43AM (#8837959) Journal
    2 Billion is about 60-80 days worth of profit for Microsoft. Profit.
  • Re:Is this right? (Score:3, Informative)

    by elFarto the 2nd ( 709099 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @11:50AM (#8838017)

    I'll think you'll find Sun does release the source code for their JVM and compilier, here [].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2004 @11:57AM (#8838066)
    actually what the original poster was referring to that in the windows jdk/jre there are some com.sun packages that are not supported by non sun jdk's. For example...there is a base64 encoder/decoder in com.sun that will not work if you drop your software on an ibm iSeries for instance.
  • by aminorex ( 141494 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @11:58AM (#8838071) Homepage Journal
    Java is already open-source. It's called GCJ.

    Why care about J2SE? GCJ is superior in many
    regards, and if the otaku would stop fawning over
    Sun's every meandering stagger, and start using it,
    the world would be a better place.
  • The Java Trinity (Score:5, Informative)

    by kherr ( 602366 ) <> on Monday April 12, 2004 @12:07PM (#8838169) Homepage
    Java is three things:
    • the programming language
    • the class libraries
    • the runtime virtual machine

    Java the programming language is well-defined and documented and anyone can write their own compiler/interpreter for it, just as they would for Pascal or BASIC or Lisp.

    Java the class libraries are, in my opinion, one of the reasons for the success of Java. They are (for the most part) well thought-out and provide a lot of useful functionality (e.g., network, GUI, data structures) for developers that enables focusing on solving problems instead of doing basic stuff over and over. This is exactly the same type of thing that helped C take off in the 1970s with the standard Unix libraries and why CPAN exists for Perl. These libraries could be replaced and/or clean-room implementations created, which is indeed happening.

    The Java virtual machine is the component Sun has been controlling, for good reason. The JVM is what provides the cross-platform execution and consistent behavior. It also defines a lot of Java features that go beyond the language specification such as runtime class loading and heap management. These are powerful aspects of Java and to have inconsistent behavior would be nightmarish for developers (and was, early on).

    IBM and Apple are two companies that have developed their own JVMs that behave consistently with Sun's but are not written by Sun. IBM even has an open source JVM separate from their licensed one. There are other JVM projects in existence, at different stages of maturity.

    I agree completely that too many major companies have too much invested in Java to let Sun just nuke it or hose it over. Java is in a much more stable state than C#/.NET. Microsoft could announce tomorrow ".NET XP" which could be 180 degrees different from what is today, whereas Sun can't arbitrarily change the fundamentals of Java without losing a lot of support from the major players and individual developers who make Java successful.
  • by LibertineR ( 591918 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @12:12PM (#8838225)
    They went for the bigger offer, but the smaller market. They bet on Java, when they could have bet on .NET. The Java market is still bigger now, but Java may die on the vine if Sun doesnt sell it, and I dont think they will, as long as Microsoft is paying their bills.

    Rational now will have to deal with Whitehorse [] and their sales will go south in the Windows market until corporations get a chance to compare it to Rational products. If Whitehorse becomes part of the MSDN subscription (and it will) then who is Rational going to sell to? Visio may have sucked enough to keep .NET developers buying Rational tools, but Whitehorse wont, and IBM will be stuck with another LOTUS. Great technology with too small a market for profitability.

  • Re:The Java Trinity (Score:5, Informative)

    by ciggieposeur ( 715798 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @12:37PM (#8838566)
    IBM's JDK/JVM is Sun's JDK/JVM ported to IBM hardware with some enhancements for performance and added libraries (JCE, ORB).

    IBM's JVM is Sun's JVM. IBM did NOT invent a new JVM, and IBM's JVM is completely dependent on the licensing status of Sun's JVM.

    I worked for IBM in the WebSphere Tools group from 2000-2003. We got previews of the IBM JVM from Hursley every few months; we saw IBM's branded JVM a full year before the rest of the world did.

    Please let this meme die. IBM did NOT invent a new JVM. Sun still controls all of the viable JVM's in use. Kaffe's JVM is the only clean-room JVM *I've* heard of, and it is never used inside IBM.

  • by MikeMo ( 521697 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @01:21PM (#8839061)
    I don't know about the rest of his article -- seems ok to me -- but his memories about Bill's "investment" in Apple are rather flawed:

    1) Apple did not abandon their Java compliance projects. Today, they are arguably among the best Java development and deployment platforms out there.

    2) It is hard to say Apple used the $150M to kill the clones. They had already been killed by the time Steve and Bill got together.

    My recollection of the event was that the big thing that Apple got was an endorsement from Microsoft, a notion that Apple wasn't going to die in the next few weeks.
  • I don't know what those other problems you speak of stem from, for I have many RedHat boxes and have not experienced them. Perhaps the admins are idiots?

    Yes and no. The GDM problem, for example, happens when you configure the hostname. For some lame reason, GDM tries to do a reverse lookup on the hostname, and fails to start if it can't. I don't remember all the details right now, but it didn't even like it if you used a hosts file.

    The starting of daemons problems are caused by RedHat's insistence on trying to map XinetD to the concept of Windows Services. The configuration tools never work right, and the whole thing happily blows up. I've tried to tell admins to use the command line, but they want to do it the "RedHat approved way" for purposes of support.

    It may have improved, but last I checked, RedHat systems are littered with extremely complex shell scripts to do every little thing. These shell scripts work fine if you don't dive too deep into the system, but they easily start breaking as soon as you start trying to ratchet up security, or install system level software.

    RPM hell is, well, RPM hell. Eventually you install yourself into a corner, where you've got a set of mismatched dependencies. After that point, you can only force installs. You can't even uninstall anything because the dependencies have gotten so tangled. Thus the "standard" position for managing RedHat servers is to multiply them like windows machines (one task per machine), and reinstall the OS every time you requisition a machine. This procedure is covered over by the constant need to "upgrade" to the latest and greatest (and highly unstable beta software) release of RedHat Linux.

    A Solaris box is also difficult to work with on the first go-round. Usually you get sent to Sun classes and everything becomes clear.

    A Solaris box is complex. But I've really never seen anyone do irreparable harm through normal use of the machine. I remember when I received my first Solaris machine. I was a Unix newb, and had to struggle through quite a bit. But I found that the machine was well designed and laid out, and eventually I found everything I needed. The only concern I ever had with Solaris was trying to reign in the Open Source software from making a big mess out of my hard disk. (Ok, this goes in /usr/local, this goes in /opt, this goes in /usr/share/, that goes in /use/bin, this goes... over there! Oh, and you don't need the Sun 'tar' utility. Use this instead! Ugh.)

  • Re:Theory (Score:3, Informative)

    by Overclocker ( 86650 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @01:34PM (#8839208)

    You missed a few: [] [] [] ex.html [] []

    So it looks like we have JVMs for, at least, Linux, Solaris, Windows, OS X, Irix, AIX, HP-UX, Tru64, OpenVMS, OS/2, and z/OS.

    What was the list of platforms for C# and .NET again?

  • Who makes the JVM? (Score:3, Informative)

    by kherr ( 602366 ) <> on Monday April 12, 2004 @01:36PM (#8839224) Homepage
    I did not mean that Apple's was independent of Sun, just that Apple is the one who makes it for their platform. Same with IBM's main JVM. They both have a lot invested in keeping Java stable.

    But IBM also has the Jikes RVM [], which is an open source Java virtual machine. It is separate from the Sun-based JVM that IBM makes.
  • by nelsonal ( 549144 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @01:42PM (#8839297) Journal
    Athough you will occasionally see deviations:
    Gross profit is your profit after your manufacturing or input costs are covered. If we were talking about a PC OEM this would include components in a cheap computer (RAM, HD, mobo, CPU, case, and assembly as well as depreciation on your factory). This ranges from about 15% (grocery stores and PC manufacturers) to 90% (software developers) an average manufacturing gross margin is about 40-50% in decent times. Traditionally this cost has a high portion of fixed costs (costs that do not change with small increments of production).
    The next costs taken out are for selling, marketing, administration, and product development. Some companies pull all of their depriciation costs out and put it here as well. This is where most of the paychecks are accounted for on an income statement. Other than ERP systems and office buildings, or the developer's toys, there aren't a lot of fixed costs here (labor is still considered more of a variable cost)which is true for commissioned sales people, but less true for an R&D staff. After these costs are removed what is left is operating profit. Overall averages are about 10-15% nationally, with retail sales operating margins at the low of 3-5% and software development reaching as high as 50%.
    Next groups get quite confusing as different companies pull any combination of the following out interest, taxes, or other costs. Once all three have been removed you are left with net profit. Sometimes a preferred stock dividend (an archaic cross between stocks and bonds certain tax laws have largely rendered these a thing of the past, but they are still occasionally used as convertable instruments) is removed and net to common shareholders is quoted but that is fairly rare.
    In response to the grandparents, Microsoft has never reported more than $4 billion in operating profit in a quarter (about 2.5 billion in net profit) so the first poster (60-80 days of profit) is more correct. Usually daily/monthly rates are applied to cash generation, but that is a lesson for a different time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2004 @02:31PM (#8839816)
    Show of hands--how many of us would have decent jobs if all software were completely free as defined by Stallman?

    What the fuck are you talking about? Do you have any idea how small proprietary-software development is as a fraction of all software development? The vast, vast majority of programmers are in-house programmers, whose jobs benefit dramatically from free software and are not imperiled in the slightest.

    Shrink-wrap, proprietary, "click here to accept EULA" software is a mite on a pimple on the ass of software development. It's just a loud mite, because it has a flaming neon-red venom-dripping boil on its own ass called "marketing".

  • My website (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kombat ( 93720 ) <> on Monday April 12, 2004 @02:34PM (#8839841) Homepage
    According to Netcraft Kombat's site ( is running Apache on Linux.

    Yup, it probably is. I don't host my own website. What, you think I've got a closet of rackmounted blade servers at home, with dedicated net access, to host my piddly little personal website?

    I pay $10 a month for BlueGenesis [] to host my website. Sorry to spoil your fun.
  • by code_echelon ( 709189 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @02:40PM (#8839917)
    I have heard this from plenty of people as well,

    "My Java code does not work on most platforms the same way",

    however once I ever see the code example it is due to poorly written code or using libraries that should not be used if you are looking to run it on multiple platforms. I have programmed quite a few Java apps and I have ran them on Windows, Linux and Macs with no significant issues.
  • Re:The Algol, the (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2004 @02:55PM (#8840057)
    Yes there are lisp compilers. In fact, some lisp implementations exclusively compile everything.
  • java jobs v. c#jobs (Score:2, Informative)

    by maysonl ( 642042 ) <maysonl@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Monday April 12, 2004 @04:27PM (#8840990)
    I just went to and did the searches:

    java ~2200

    c# ~550

    4 to 1 in favor of java.

    But, what will it be like next year?

  • by dekashizl ( 663505 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @04:30PM (#8841022) Journal
    LibertineR: Facts as flamebait? Way to argue. If you can dispute the facts, then do that, dont just mod it down because you dont like it.

    No, not "facts as flamebait". Calling people "losers", "asshole", and "Smart Boy" mixed in with mostly irrelevant quotes (regarding the Sun/MSFT contract and negotiations, not the technology, I might add) is what makes your post flamebait.

    Then you go on to say "Instead of being concerned about their developers or the potential HUGE market for Java, [Sun] tried to suck everything back under their own umbrella." Here, again, your sense of history is quite far from reality and shows a childish "mine!" mentality. Let me correct your statement: Sun tried to "suck everything back under their own umbrella" (as you so elegantly put it) in an effort to positively shape the future of the Java language rather than letting monopolistic market forces fragment this potent technological legacy into useless pieces, thereby becoming just another programming language that half a generation of computer scientists will remember in 30 years from now.

    You also said "I was there" and "Sun hated that they had to play with us". Are you claiming to work for or be a representative of Microsoft? I find this extermely hard to believe.
  • by Ogerman ( 136333 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @04:31PM (#8841038)
    So what jobs are you doing that make Java the best solution?

    Enterprise applications. The Python / Perl / PHP world is currently unable to compete with J2EE for complicated, professional business applications. And note that I'm talking about more than just "huge websites." I'm talking about the core software that businesses rely on for daily operations. The P* tools are good for lightweight web applications, but that's about it. Python tools may have the potential to compete with J2EE someday, but they have a long ways to go. Zope + something roughly equivalent to EJB could perhaps work for smaller business apps.
  • by Srin Tuar ( 147269 ) <> on Monday April 12, 2004 @04:32PM (#8841047)
    If youd ever read the FSF site over once before you went about criticizing it, you would see that the definition of what constitutes free []

    • Is not limited to the GPL
    • Is well defined and agreed upon by many many programmers, users, and organizations
    • Is not met by SUN's Java implementation

    RMS's use of the word "free" is precise and accurate.

    Your definition of "free" is Orweillian and defeatist, and an attempt to lump together such clearly different concepts is little better than FUD.

  • by sreeram ( 67706 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @07:12PM (#8842611)

    Lotus is far from a dead weight for IBM. See, your personally not having seen Lotus around recently doesn't represent the whole world.

    The Singapore government, for example, is completely on Lotus. The government issued a mandate a few years back to "standardize" their IT infrastructure. They chose Lotus. Today, all government organizations (such as ministries), statutory bodies (such as the housing/economic/trade/etc development boards), fully-government-funded institutions (such as schools and polytechnics) and many others are completely on Lotus. No Microsoft Exchange or other competitors. Some are deploying Active Directory Services in addition, but Lotus is the core platform.

    Even though Singapore is geographically small, that's a pretty massive IT market. I would venture that Lotus similarly has clients worldwide.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev