Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Java Authors: Roger Strukhoff, Liz McMillan, VictorOps Blog, AppDynamics Blog, Leon Fayer

Related Topics: Java

Java: Article

J2SE and Open Source - Living Together in Perfect Harmony

Preserves the integrity of the language

Open source and J2SE,
living together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my computer keyboard,
Oh yeah, why can't we?

Java has been the springboard for some of the most successful open source projects today including JBoss, NetBeans, and Eclipse. Several folks though have felt the missing piece was an actual open source implementation of the runtime. Some view Sun's stewardship of Java and the JCP as being too controlling, while others believe it is an essential benign rule that preserves the integrity of the language. The view taken by Sun execs is that the JCP is essential to preserve portability while preventing forks in the language (as Microsoft once attempted with proprietary extensions). Should these occur, they could compromise a user's expectation that a Java program, once written, can run anywhere. Advocates of open source, however, deny this would occur and cite successful projects in which the benefits of fast innovation and widespread adoption have been fueled by having an open source community of developers who drive the implementation forward.

Earlier this year the Apache Foundation announced the Harmony project. Its aims are to write an open source version of J2SE from scratch. Given that specifications for J2SE are freely available, one question might be why such a move hasn't occurred before? In the FAQ for Harmony, Gier Magnusson from Apache states: "While the Java Community Process has allowed open source implementations of JSRs for a few years now, Java 5 is the first of the J2SE specs that we are able to do due to licensing reasons" (http://mail-archives.apache.org/mod_mbox/incubator-general/ 200505.mbox/%[email protected]%3E).

Rather than reinvent the wheel, after the initial announcement it seems that the plan is to try to pollinate the project with code and ideas from existing Java runtimes. At JavaOne Geir said: "There is a lot of software out there that we are hoping can be donated. We are hoping that we will get seeded with some code from existing production Virtual Machines." This is an invitation to the big guns of software and mom and pop developers, many of whom have either privately or openly tinkered with creating their own implementations of Java.

There are several potential Harmony contributors who might be in Geir's sights to step up to the plate. BEA has a very good JVM implementation in JRockit (www.bea.com/framework.jsp?CNT=index.htm&FP=/content/products/jrockit), while Kaffe (www.kaffe.org/) is a clean room implementation of the JVM.

Making Harmony succeed, however, requires more than just a JVM, as J2SE contains many lines of code in the actual class libraries, all of which need API compatible reimplementation. Due to licensing and IP issues this most likely must be done in an environment without reference to the existing Sun J2SE source code base, so the hill to climb is steep and high one.

I usually don't pay much attention to the cries of doom issued by execs of any company that has a vested interest in whether open source Java should succeed or fail, but I was surprised to hear James Gosling, when asked about Harmony, raise the issue of why Apache wants the Harmony license to be different from the existing J2SE one. He said: "I understand why they would like it to be different. From our point of view that would actually be more destructive than helpful. It boils down to forking: they believe that the ability to fork is an absolutely critical right" (www2.vnunet.com/lite/News/1163182). His voice is one I respect and should be listened to as words of wisdom and caution so the worst case scenario doesn't become a reality. To ensure compatibility with J2SE, however, the harmony FAQ states that it will be verified against the J2SE Test Compatibility Kit. The TCK is published by the JCP and is the yardstick used by all ratified J2SE integrations (JCP or commercial) that to date has ensured no fragmentation exists and no compromise of integrity has occurred.

Whatever the outcome of the Harmony project, while I do understand the concerns of those who are frightened of fragmentation in the language, I am more excited by the prospects of having an open source implementation J2SE. This will enjoy the same benefits that other open source projects have experienced, where a community of like-minded, smart individuals who share the same goal can participate equally in the same code and knowledge base of ideas and innovation. Ideas, bug reports, and schedules are transparent and can be iterated in public toward the best solution. The momentum of the project becomes fueled by the feedback loop created by an alliance of like-minded individuals in a partnership of conviction. To those who don't believe this will work, ask not if the glass is half empty, but listen instead to the lyrical genius of Sir Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder:

We all know that people are the same where ever you go
There is good and bad in everyone
Learn to live, we learn to give each other
What we need to survive, together alive

More Stories By Joe Winchester

Joe Winchester, Editor-in-Chief of Java Developer's Journal, was formerly JDJ's longtime Desktop Technologies Editor and is a software developer working on development tools for IBM in Hursley, UK.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
JoeWinchester 08/16/05 11:46:40 AM EDT

Hi Alex,
But there are already different versions of the JRE created by different vendors for their particular hardware platforms. Sun does not create the Z-OS or iSeries JRE. What keeps these together is the TCK and given that Java works now cross platform, all that is different is that there can be an open-source version of J2SE. James' comments were more about the fact that open-source J2SE would create forking and this is something that I agree with we don't want. What I don't understand fully is why forking is more likely with open-source that occured before with different JRE's being created commercially.

Alex 08/12/05 02:45:35 AM EDT

I agree with James Gosling's concern - there will always be holes in any specifications.

If there is only one single implementation, such undocumented behaviours can still be utilised after some preliminary investigations; but if more than one implementations is used by the majority of end-users, these undocumented portions could have different behaviour.

It may sound as if we shouldn't have used any unspecified "features" in a specification, but they are often the only workaround for certain tasks to date, due to the deficiency in the spec. Only by having a single major implementation can we do away with these problems easier, if at all.

@ThingsExpo Stories
GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabilities include HD voice, video, multimedia messaging, mobility, conferencing, Web collaboration, deskt...
The Open Compute Project is a collective effort by Facebook and a number of players in the datacenter industry to bring lessons learned from the social media giant's giant IT deployment to the rest of the world. Datacenters account for 3% of global electricity consumption – about the same as all of Switzerland or the Czech Republic -- according to people I met at the recent Open Compute Summit in San Jose. With increasing mobility at the edge of the cloud and vast new dataflows being predicted with the growth of the Internet of Things (and The Coming Age of Many Zettabytes) in the near...
The list of ‘new paradigm’ technologies that now surrounds us appears to be at an all time high. From cloud computing and Big Data analytics to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT), today we have to deal with what the industry likes to call ‘paradigm shifts’ at every level of IT. This is disruption; of course, we understand that – change is almost always disruptive.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Cisco and our partners are building the platform for the Internet of Everything by connecting the...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things compatible devices.
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Docker is an excellent platform for organizations interested in running microservices. It offers portability and consistency between development and production environments, quick provisioning times, and a simple way to isolate services. In his session at DevOps Summit at 16th Cloud Expo, Shannon Williams, co-founder of Rancher Labs, will walk through these and other benefits of using Docker to run microservices, and provide an overview of RancherOS, a minimalist distribution of Linux designed expressly to run Docker. He will also discuss Rancher, an orchestration and service discovery platf...
Sonus Networks introduced the Sonus WebRTC Services Solution, a virtualized Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) offer, purpose-built for the Cloud. The WebRTC Services Solution provides signaling from WebRTC-to-WebRTC applications and interworking from WebRTC-to-Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), delivering advanced real-time communications capabilities on mobile applications and on websites, which are accessible via a browser.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the leading innovator in recurring revenue, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Proven by the world’s most demanding enterprises, including AAA NCNU, Constant Contact, Falck, Hootsuite, Pitney Bowes, Telekom Denmark, and VMware, Aria helps enterprises grow their recurring revenue businesses. With Aria’s end-to-end active monetization platform, global brands can get to market faster with a wider variety of products and services, while maximizin...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes for use cases across the industrial, enterprise, and consumer segments.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Akana, formerly SOA Software, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Akana’s comprehensive suite of API Management, API Security, Integrated SOA Governance, and Cloud Integration solutions helps businesses accelerate digital transformation by securely extending their reach across multiple channels – mobile, cloud and Internet of Things. Akana enables enterprises to share data as APIs, connect and integrate applications, drive part...
After making a doctor’s appointment via your mobile device, you receive a calendar invite. The day of your appointment, you get a reminder with the doctor’s location and contact information. As you enter the doctor’s exam room, the medical team is equipped with the latest tablet containing your medical history – he or she makes real time updates to your medical file. At the end of your visit, you receive an electronic prescription to your preferred pharmacy and can schedule your next appointment.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Liaison Technologies, a leading provider of data management and integration cloud services and solutions, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Liaison Technologies is a recognized market leader in providing cloud-enabled data integration and data management solutions to break down complex information barriers, enabling enterprises to make smarter decisions, faster.
The WebRTC Summit 2014 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular Information Management® solutions for high-performance data protection, universal availability and sim...
Cloud is not a commodity. And no matter what you call it, computing doesn’t come out of the sky. It comes from physical hardware inside brick and mortar facilities connected by hundreds of miles of networking cable. And no two clouds are built the same way. SoftLayer gives you the highest performing cloud infrastructure available. One platform that takes data centers around the world that are full of the widest range of cloud computing options, and then integrates and automates everything. Join SoftLayer on June 9 at 16th Cloud Expo to learn about IBM Cloud's SoftLayer platform, explore se...
SYS-CON Media announced today that 9 out of 10 " most read" DevOps articles are published by @DevOpsSummit Blog. Launched in October 2014, @DevOpsSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce softw...