Over the last five years it has often seemed like strongest link between Java and Linux was on vendor slide decks, notably IBM’s.
The architecture charts look elegant and simple but the communities are often orthogonal. JBoss’ claim that 50% of implementations are on Windows is a pretty clear indicator that Java and Linux are not joined at the hand let alone the hip.
So what is the theme of Java One this year? How about – the emergence of Java Linux?
In the Monday keynote kickoff Ed Zander, Motorola CEO and former president of Sun, spoke to “Java Linux”. In the past Motorola has been conflicted about the OS. While it has sold some really cool phones in the Asian market that run Linux, the wireless service providers in Europe and the US have been more interested in Symbian and Windows mobile. Ed was very clear however that he sees the Java Linux combo as one his company should push more agressively.
Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical, Inc, the company responsible for the Ubuntu version of the Debian Linux distribution was on stage to announce that the Sun Java Runtime Environment (JRE) will now be easily installed alongside Debian packages using apt-get. The news may sounds arcane, but this is a very significant news, as explained by Stephen here, here and here.
Ian Murdock, Debian founder, spoke to the news thusly:
We’re one step closer to a Java/Linux combo that’s more than just Java bolted onto the side of Linux (admittedly, there’s still a bit of that here, though at least it’s attached with standard componentry now rather than the old bubble gum and bailing wire).
Why is tighter integration important? Because the alternative, namely Windows and .NET, offers a tightly integrated combo that “just works”. The more a developer has to do (like, say, ship a bundled runtime because that runtime isn’t guaranteed to be available on a key platform), the more attractive the alternative looks.
The real question is: Will this be enough? I’ve long contended that open-source Java is a red herring—the real challenge for Java on Linux is ubiquity, not licensing, and licensing is really only an issue because it gets in the way of ubiquity.
Well said sir! But what about the “production distros”, SuSE and Red Hat? No news to report on JRE.
But JBoss supremo Marc Fleury was on stage to endorse Sun’s Netbeans platform, which was a bit of a surprise. While we’re talking about Netbeans, it was also interesting to see Cap Gemini CTO Steve Jones formally endorse Sun’s open source development environment. Ed Zander had also endorsed Netbeans, so top down momentum seems to be picking up. But back to Java Linux and questions of governance.
One of the main reasons Java and Linux have been somewhat at arms length outside vendor slide decks, above and beyond the packaging issues talked to at extreme length by my esteemed colleague in the links above, is that Java is not open source. OSS bigots therefore won’t use it. That is why the “will Sun open source Java question” keeps coming up. Sun confirmed yesterday open source Java is a How Not If question. But of course Jonathan said something very very similar last year… please stop ooching it out Sun, I really don’t want to have to answer reporter or client queries on the issue any more. I can’t face another Java One press conference where 60% of the questions are about Sun open sourcing Java.
Which brings us to Eclipse and Java governance.
One reporter asked during the press conference whether Sun shouldn’t spin off Java to an independent organisation, “like Eclipse”. In context of the question the reporter put forward a very interesting oxymoron – “you could then get that level of hands off control..”
“Hands off control?” the mind boggles. military intelligence, fresh frozen, and hands off control…
Without rehashing my Eclipse momentum and enterprise mandate mantra, its worth noting Eclipse increasingly has its own governance issues to deal with. Like the JCP – there are many different constituencies pulling in different directions, as with the Java Community Process.
Independence doesn’t eliminate complexity…
Finally i just want to posit that its probably the broad resurgence of Solaris, through the Open Solaris program, that makes Sun so comfortable about partnering with Linux distros now. Solaris is confident. Sun is confident. And now Java Linux can begin to kick in.
The industry hasn’t gotten boring yet, and Sun is at the heart of some intriguing structural changes. The buzz on the floor here at Java One is palpable. And now the Java and Linux communities can start to create some interesting mashups because religion is being taken out of the equation.