Taking James Gosling to task – your letters

That seals it...

A terrific response to our James Gosling interview, and not one of you mentioned asparagus…

Subject: Why X ? A: X is free Sun wanted money

It's simple: Sun wanted money for NeWS

Pay Sun for every workstation or do your own thing. Not really all that hard for a Corp like Digital to make up its mind.

(Sun did try and free NeWS, just too late - X had won that war)

John Jones

James Gosling seems to go to great lengths to hide the fact that Sun killed NeWS by not making it into a viable open standard, fact that is analysed correctly in one paragraph in the middle of this page.

So what favored Java really is nothing about being social -- except in RMS' sense that freedom is social and 'proprietariness' unsocial - but that it is a little bit more open than NeWS ever was, that there wasn't a viable alternative at the time, that the world had turned much more complicated so that no one plausibly proposed an alternative, and that others came up with alternative implementations.

Leandro Guimarães Faria Corsetti Dutra

There is so much to read these days about what people say about things,
including what Gosling has to say about X Windows. It's all boring.

The world didn't adopt NeWS. So What?

The world hasn't embraced Java as the one true way to write applications in the era of the Internet. So What?

Gosling would have better spent his time improving X, a la Keith Packard's style. Then he would have spent his time making a difference. He could have uninvented the PC, as the Chinese are now doing. He could have been known for his successes instead of being known for his failures. He could have been quoted as saying how excited he was about where he was helping to take us instead of being quoted as saying how fucking stupid everything is because it wasn't done as well as he would have done it with hindsight if he had actually made an effort.

Gene Mosher
ViewTouch Inc.

Gosling's assertion that Java is type safe, and immune to buffer overruns has the .NET camp bristling:-

I'd like to add a caveat to James Gosling's point about the .NET memory model and the implications to it of MS supporting C and C++ pointer arithmetic.

Firstly Microsoft Visual Studio .NET (VS.NET) is capable of producing both managed and unmanaged code. Basically unmanaged code is the kind that runs directly against the Win32 API and the x86 instruction set, the kind we're used to. Managed code runs on .NET's CLR (common language runtime), the equivalent of Java's VM.

Managed code comes in two forms, safe and unsafe. Safe code only accesses memory that's been previously written to, doesn't assign data to variables of the wrong type, etc. The idea is that it's stable and secure, within the environment of the CLR.

By default, C#.NET and VB.NET both produce verifiably safe code. There is a tool in Microsoft Visual Studio .NET called PEVerify that checks code is verifiably safe. It is possible to produce code that's not verfiably safe by using managed C++ or using the 'unsafe' keyword in C#. However, if that code attempts an unsafe operation when running it will throw a VerifierException and avert attempts at compromising security, etc.

So in conclusion I'm not sure why James is getting worried about the .NET memory model. I'd be interested to hear his concerns in a little more depth, but I guess he's a busy man!


Josh Gallagher
Avanade UK

And not just the .NET camp either. Here's a particularly damning critique of Java:-

there's something in the water at sun: gosling saying "In C there are no data structures", I couldn't help thinking that was an excellent McNealyism - memorable, pithy, snapped up by gullible media, and just plain wrong.

really, besides not actually believing crap like that, you should cultivate a bit more skepticism. for instance, I remember gosling mainly for gosmacs (first emacs with lisp(ish) programmable extensibility.) yeah, he did news, but it was just warnock's postscript jammed onto sockets. and java is just a cruelly gutted Self recycled into dumbed-down C++ syntax.

(not to mention the bytecode VM stolen from p-code and/or gnu-emacs, and the mother-huge library that is a thinly veiled version of
unix libc...)

Mark Hahn

Everyone is overlooking the corporate response to .NET's multiple language

If I am a corporate and I buy something and 3 years later I need it extended - then I'd have to have someone around who could cut that code

This is the dumb aspect of .NET's 'any language you want' approach. How the hell can a company support so many languages (debugging Perl.NET, fixing VB.NET, improving existing C# code etc.)?

What if the employee wrote in something esoteric that no one else knows? It's ludicrous and once business gets wind of this, all but one or two languages will be banned. Governments will do it first, then small businesses, then banks (but only after being burned) and eventually the media will wake up to this stupidity.

In the end, people will coalesce around two or 3 languages (Java, and two others... MAYBE C#.... maybe) and all this will just have been hype.

The .NET platform and libraries are a good thing though - that's not hype.


Mark Wilson

And finally, regular Register readers will know that we can hardly let a reference to Canada slip by without referring to the popular pastime of hitting marine mammals with sticks. There we go again!

Subject: Clubbing with Baby Seals - if they can get past the bouncer running the door

> Gosling is a good-natured Canadian, and he
> set about the competition with the same
> relish that his countrymen have
> for clubbing baby seals:


We only carve those little holes in the ice to keep the beer cold.

- bish

You're on a roll today.

I was going to ask you to club yourself on the head on my behalf.

>> the Jini guys were doing they're stuff

Sorry Andrew. I can see it won't be necessary. You're doing the best you can.

Allan Stokes

And there I was, thinking that I'd never met a Canadian I didn't like. Fair enough Allan, and thanks all. ®

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