Free, Compatible Java at last

Ripening pear

Yesterday was a landmark that plenty of us have been working towards for nearly a decade. As MR and I have been indicating for a while now, the remaining obstacles to a fully compatible and Free implementation of Java SE have all been removed by efforts like renegotiating the terms for the source of Java 2D and various community members (Sun and others) re-implementing some of the other code.

But the proof is in the fruit of the process, and yesterday it was confirmed that the implementation of OpenJDK 6 that the Fedora community has packaged does indeed pass the TCK. This is a huge achievement for everyone who has been involved - the Fedora team that Rich mentions in that last link, the team that MR leads at Sun, the team that I lead, plus the many, many people who have worked for a Free Java for so many years.

Some may fear, as Fabrizio does, that this (and the many GNU/Linux, OpenSolaris and BSD packages that will follow) will lead to such a diverse set of Java implementations that "write once, run everywhere" is doomed. I don't agree.

What made Java so compatible, in my view, was the fact that almost all versions found in the wild were built with Sun's class libraries even if they used a different VM. With Sun opening the reference implementation and then the community taking it on and embracing it, we now have that same basic code-base at the root of Free implementations everywhere. And we now have the benefits of community diversity to ensure many eyes are making bugs shallow and that innovation is accelerated.

Free, compatible Java everywhere. That's exactly what we all wanted, and we have it at last.

Comments:

Hello Simon. Indeed I don't fear at all about JRE fragmentation - my concerns are related to testing. For instance, JRE have bugs, and different implementations will have different bugs. If I have to deploy an application that might run on different Linux distros and different JREs, I need to run a test session for any target. For this reason, I'm just saying I hope that the default JRE on all Linuxes will be the same (OpenJDK) - in this way a single test session will be enough.

Posted by Fabrizio Giudici on June 20, 2008 at 12:38 AM PDT #

[Trackback] Of course the real news was that Red Hat (and many others) were even given the opportunity to be part of the evolution of Java. This was only possible because a bunch of people (like Simon Phipps), inside and outside of Sun had the clarity of vision, p...

Posted by Rich Sharples' Blog on June 20, 2008 at 12:39 AM PDT #

All the (commercial) Java applications I've come across ship their own JRE, I wish they would use the distro supplied JRE!

Posted by michael on June 20, 2008 at 10:16 PM PDT #

haha this is awesome!

I look forward very much to Jave that Just Works

Posted by ethana2 on June 21, 2008 at 02:05 AM PDT #

Thanks for Java! It has some new fans now.

Posted by Roy Schestowitz on June 22, 2008 at 05:01 AM PDT #

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