Re: Plans for 2.8 - GNOME Managed Language Services?

Ryan McDougall wrote:

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.

I was not thinking particularly of emotional impact here, but of course there's bound to be some.

Sun would almost certainly wish to use its own runtime VM on its bundled systems, for a multitude of reasons.
I think this is a core issue - it means that Sun would find it difficult to ship a GNOME that wouldn't run properly on the Sun runtime; i.e.. Sun would need to be able to swap its own runtime in.

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. :(
I don't think that is what this is about.

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.
This would probably be a total non-issue to Sun, as long as they could swap in their own JVM. Presumably IBM would swap in _their_ vm, etc. if it differed from the "stock" GNOME vm.

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?
This is a question for Sun marketing really. Whether any company would ship a C# technology has to do with (in addition to any legal considerations) their perception of whether it supported/reinforced competing technology, or provided a migration path / customer option. The problems arise if GNOME introduces dependency on any "controversial" technology (Java included) which might force GNOME adopters to either bundle the technology or do surgery on GNOME in order to excise it.


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.
I hope I've made it clearer above.

I really probably should bow out after this post, since this really concerns a part of Sun which I'm neither authorized to speak for, nor privy to much insightful insider knowledge about. I really don't think however that this is about "offending" any company. I do think as GNOME developers it's reasonable for us to think about the impact of new dependencies, seeking advice on possible legal issues, and anticipating areas where some distributors or companies have an interest (positive or negative) in the integration or substitution of particular technologies.

Nowhere do we say "this is GNOME, you must ship it", outside of what GPL/LGPL itself requires; but by accepting technologies into "core GNOME" we create a de facto requirement to either accept or (expensively) fork. So I think it's reasonable to be cautious about embracing controversial technologies if we share Havoc's goal of broadening the adoption of the free desktop and minimizing fragmentation.

(I'll try to seek some clarification about your last paragraph, but don't hold your breath while you wait, please :-)

- Bill

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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