David A. Wheeler's Blog

Sun, 27 Nov 2005

FLOSS Java Roadmap published

Ever since Richard Stallman wrote his article Free But Shackled - The Java Trap, many developers have avoided using Java. Why? At the time, there was no practical way to delivery fully free-libre / open source software (FLOSS) using Java while still being fully functional. Not because it was illegal to have a FLOSS Java implementation, but simply because the FLOSS tools and libraries weren’t available.

But things have been moving quickly; many developers have been working hard to develop an implementation of Java that doesn’t depend on proprietary software. The problem is that there hasn’t been a simple way to understand what’s going on — unless you’re an “insider”.

Thankfully, that’s changed. Escaping the Java Trap: A practical road map to the Free Software and Open Source alternatives is a simple 3-page summary that surveys the many different FLOSS projects that are building, testing, and distributing a complete FLOSS Java implementation (including mountains of libraries). As the roadmap notes, “Important large applications like JOnAS, OpenOffice.org 2, Eclipse 3 and Tomcat 5 are known to work. This document provides a road map of the various projects; how they work together, where they are, where they’re going, and how we make sure that they work well and are compatible.”

This is the roadmap I noted earlier as part of my FISL 2005 travelogue. Although I helped the other authors write it, I really operated as a ghost writer rather than speaking with my own voice. Basically, I really wanted to know what the state of FLOSS Java implementations was, and I was fortunate to be able to talk with the top experts at FISL. I promised them if they told me about the various parts, I would in turn help them describe it in a simple way. So the material is really all theirs — I was just lucky enough to be the first recipient of it.

Other articles also help give more perspectives on the topic, too. The state of Java on Linux by Tom Tromey has some interesting material, for example. But I know of no other document that gives such a wide overview of how a full FLOSS implementation of Java (TM) is getting built, tested, and distributed.

Again, take a peek: Escaping the Java Trap: A practical road map to the Free Software and Open Source alternatives

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