Re: Plans for 2.8 - GNOME Managed Language Services?

On Sat, 2004-03-27 at 20:37 +0000, Bill Haneman wrote:
> Hi:
> First of all - before I say anything here
> (1) I do not speak for my employer
> (2) I am reluctant to get caught up in this discussion, and may feel a 
> need to bow out over some sensitive issues, particularly where my 
> opinions differ from those of some Sun management.  So please try to 
> bear with me if I don't pursue all responses.
> That said...
> Ryan:
> >
> >I guess you feel that if an app was written in Java, any VM could run
> >it, which belies the assumption that what we want is a *language*, and
> >what people are concerned about is the VM *implementation*. I think its
> >the other way around. ...
> >
> >Once again, this boils down to the question, "Do we want to be the
> >language or the platform?"
> >
> I think that both are important to some of the people and groups with 
> strong feelings about this.

Perhaps I underestimate the emotional part of the argument. Its
understandable that people who are invested in something become attached
to it, or vilify a competitor -- although I can't say I agree with that
way of thinking.

> Sun would almost certainly wish to use its own runtime VM on its bundled 
> systems, for a multitude of reasons.  Also any group with an investment 
> in Java may tend to see C# as a "competitor" or at best redundant, and 
> so would have issues with shipping/supporting a C# code base.

True, but if Novell gives us, say iFolder, are we (GNOME + all of
"Linux-land") going to refuse to use it because its in C#? Similarly,
lets suppose Looking Glass is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Are
we going to refuse to use it since its written in Java?

The problem quickly becomes intractable when we have to tip-toe around
giants because we are afraid of hurting their feelings. :(

Also, lets say we choose Java and ship a Free JVM+Classpath. Thats
redundant too! Will that offend their platform aspirations? If the JVM
is integral for Sun, is it a competitor as well? I know we can please
everyone, but I'm starting to get the feeling we can never please anyone
without doing exactly what they tell us.

> Of the two, I think for Sun in particular the VM issue is probably the 
> touchier one.  If it's possible to write GNOME code that can run on a 
> free runtime but which can also run on a proprietary runtime, then we'll 
> avoid the thorniest issues and give the corporate interested parties the 
> most flexibility.

Are you saying they would rather we do not support Java at all, than
support both Java and C#? Its not really our fault that Sun a) chose to
not open source their JVM b) chose to not design the JVM to support
other langauges such as C#.

What about corporate interested parties who want C#, or a migration path
from .NET on Linux? You (understandably) seem to have a Java centric
view, but that doesn't help when considering what goes on beyond Java.
In your opinion, should we ignore what Novell is trying to offer us if
its not C or Java?

> Also - and this is important to bear in mind I think - RAND licensing 
> isn't free, it presents real problems to free distributions.  Why?  A 
> "reasonable" license fee conflicts with free software distribution, 
> since it can't be collected, and making a special allowance for free 
> software / non-commercial use etc. is inherently "discriminatory".  (For 
> this very reason W3C largely reversed its position with respect to RAND 
> licensing of its standards, in favor of royalty-free licensing, a couple 
> of years ago).

As Miguel said, ECMA 334/335 is royalty free, and the discussion about
GPL compatibility is on another thread.

> ...
> >If we're going to use choice of C# or Java, plus GNU Classpath, what is
> >the point of the C# part? It loses support for GNOME, in order to get an
> >incremental improvement in language syntax.
> >
> >Havoc
> >
> I agree with Havoc here, from a pragmatic viewpoint.
> - Bill

Bill, I am interested in your point of view as a person who works for
Sun, so please feel free to comment further. Specifically, I'm not sure
I yet understand your pragmatic point of view.

It seems to me now that pleasing these huge companies is impossible
given that we don't truly know what they want, and that they appear to
be taking stands on technology that makes our life more difficult, yet
we are supposed to not offend them. I feel like a mouse in a herd of

Is it possible for you to get someone within the Java or JDS groups to
give us their semi-official, or semi-authoritative opinion on the
matter? I want to work with Sun, but only under reasonable conditions.


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