I'm a Software Developer with over a decade's worth of experience in the IT Industry. While primarily a Java Developer I've working in - among other things - everything from C to Visual Basic to JavaScript to Ruby to Objective-C to C#. I officially consider myself a member of the cult of Lisp which tends to colour the way I think about how code should be written Julian is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 11 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

Does Java Need a "Linux moment"?

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Does anyone remember that one of the reasons Linux or GNU/Linux (sorry Richard Stallman) was created, was to create a Unix like environment which was free and open to use and not encumbered by the licensing restrictions of the AT&T's original Unix.

With all the stuff happening with Java right now, being a Java developer has become a depressing experience, and it's getting really hard to see a positives for the platform.

Perhaps Java needs it's own "Linux moment".

A Java (but not Java) platform that is free and open and built on the same principles that made Linux a success, with the potential for the same type of success that Linux has enjoyed.

I don't know if it's even feasible, but it's certainly becoming an appealing thought.

From http://dotneverland.blogspot.com/2010/10/does-java-need-linux-moment.html

Published at DZone with permission of Julian Exenberger, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)



Wilhelm Fitzpatrick replied on Tue, 2010/10/26 - 7:00pm

While remembering history, it is good you mention Richard Stallman, since the inception of the GNU project was the moment you speak of: the creation of free, unencumbered tools for programming and a free operating system to host them on. The creation of the Linux kernel itself was initially nothing more than Linus looking for an interesting hobby project. This was greatly assisted by the existence of the GNU utilities and toolchain as they then existed, and filled a much needed gap, as the GNU project had, for various reasons, been unable to produce a working kernel. Thus GNU/Linux, the GNU tools on the Linux kernel. Your suggestion is good, and perhaps one of the positive outcomes of the abuse of the Java ecosystem and community by Java's current official "captor" will be more resources devoted by the community to OpenJDK. In OpenJDK, we do have a free software implementation of the Java VM. The only thing troubling OpenJDK (apart from the need to make it more polished and reliable on all the major platforms) is software patent problems. This is a large issue which the existence of a "Java-like" system would not get around, because presumably such a system would infringe the same patents. It can be argued that this is what Google is attempting with its Dalvik VM in Android. The Dalvik VM is a "Java-like" VM, not a Java VM. It does not use the Java bytecode format. Yet this has not stopped Oracle from trying to shake down Google. If Oracle is successful, then is any VM-based, memory-managed, bytecode compiled language and runtime safe, be it Python, Perl (or any other language) on Parrot, etc? Given that the fundamental problem is the abuse that can be made of software patents, and the fact that we are not likely to see a legislative solution, at least in the US any time soon, I think the best that the community can do is work on maintaining good, free software implementations of our environments (OpenJDK, Apache Harmony) and hoping that the elephants warring above our head don't step on us.

Fabrizio Giudici replied on Tue, 2010/10/26 - 7:20pm

By "Linux moment" do we mean a highly fragmented ecosystem? Linux is a winner on the server, but because it's endorsed by corporates; and, in spite of the continuous effort, it's a loser on the desktop (stuck at 1% of share). No, thanks. I hope in deeper involvement of the community, but the Linux model is not the good inspiration.

RIchard replied on Wed, 2010/10/27 - 11:06pm in response to: Fabrizio Giudici

mmm "Linux is a winner on the server, but because it's endorsed by corporates;" - By "Corporates", do we mean companies that were built around GNU/Linux? Because most data centers are using Red Hat or Debian based distro. The over-hyped fragmentation paranoia that Sun suffered from was without merit. The fear of IBM dominating Java on the other hand, was not. Maybe it's just a fundamental misunderstanding of how the "fork off" eco-system actually works. There are endless iterations and the best make it back to the upstream distros, which propagates to the other downstream distros in a system that I picture in true space as a solar system in violent upheaval. Collisions beget meteors and asteroids, molten elements merging and breaking apart in a repetitious cycle of death and rebirth. over time, order comes out of chaos and a greater system of cohesive subsystems gives an evolutionary quality to the collective super system.

Julian Exenberger replied on Wed, 2010/10/27 - 11:52pm

What I refer to by a "Linux moment" is when someone decides to create a piece of software which is very similar to something that exists, but it's free of the associated baggage. One of the motivations for Linux was to create a Unix like environment which didn't carry over all the IP and legal problems that come with Unix. I certainly wouldn't want the Linux distro model in a development tool....

Martin Wildam replied on Thu, 2010/10/28 - 2:12am

@Fabrizio: I don't think Linux is for the server only. Linux on the desktop usage around me is increasing. Also I notice Mac usage increasing.

And BTW: I don't trust those statistics or at least think, they are outdated. 5 years ago everybody in my family and all my friends used Windows. Today family got Linux and several friends too. Even the local Ubuntu meeting I attend gets - slowly - but more and more visitors.

I think one of the most important arguments is: As the variety of alternative operating systems is growing and and this is not just my limited view - see here for example: http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/article/364057/linux_rise_business/

36 % tel, that they also use Linux on the desktop - not only on the server.

And: This can be a push for Java also! During a many-year-long slow move of companies to reach independence and then get the opportunity to switch to Linux, Java is a very good option.

Igor Laera replied on Thu, 2010/10/28 - 7:31am


We all know, its not "Java" its the JVM that does the heavy lifiting. If you really like to have
a "linux" moment, you mean something like "Scala" on a LLVM-based Stack? In my eyes,
there is not enough 'Juice' in the market to push anything like that.

Apache, Tomcat, JBoss, Linux, Mysql really solved "problems" people had in their daily
lives because there was nothing available or it was expensive. Linus created Linux
because nothing else was "there" to play with.

The JVM is free to download and there are "free" clones of it. Some people don't like
Oracle's tactics, but others don't like Googles Dalvik-mobile-trickery either. Google
knew the mobile market will be hotter-than-the-desktop and everybody now has seen
the infamous "who-sues-who-in-the-mobile-world'-diagrams in the news.

Oracle is a tech company who does things differently. The whole "lets split from them"
movement is IMHO (needlessy swift,) emotional driven; people asking for lots of answers
in many areas Oracle is currently not able to deliver since they are still chewing on the
Sun buy-off.

It's clear that many people simply don't like Oracle, but that alone will not be enough to
force anyone hacking a comparable 'Free'Scala JVM in any direction. It would cost immense
money, and Sun didn't prove well in 10 years they can earn money on it. Especially when
Oracle/Redmond/$market-player will knock on any companies door with their nasty soft

And if you need to pay $20 on every device at the end for using it with $your_jvm, the
outlook for a true "linux moment" is bleak. Linux could defeat SCO because Unix history
is madness. The Java/JVM world is much more clear, and that's a problem if you want to
bypass the market leaders.


Julian Exenberger replied on Thu, 2010/10/28 - 9:40am in response to: Igor Laera

There other things to play with around the time Linus wrote Linux, but none under any license he could deal with.

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