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Java 6 for OS X 'weeks away'

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A community project putting the latest version of Java on Apple's newest version of OS X is inching closer to completion.

The project to port Java 6 to Apple's Leopard and Tiger has been quietly released as a second developer preview for a fresh round of testing, after the first implementation was thrashed and debugged by a core of around 40 developers.

It's hoped the port will be finished and generally available during the next few weeks, according to Landon Fuller - the chap leading the project, who's also a committer to the FreeBSD Java project and is a games developer.

New features in the development kit include support for 32-bit Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and a SoyLatte binary release with a string of bug fixes. Performance is also "frigging awesome", according to a review from Sun Microsystems' JRuby core developer Charles Nutter.

The initial port is based on the FreeBSD Java 6, with the next step being to merge the BSD and Apple code into Sun's OpenJDK project. Future goals are OpenJDK support for Java 7 on Mac OS X (X11 and possibly Aqua) and an "on-time" release of Java 7 for Mac OS X (again X11 and possibly Aqua).

Apple landed in hot water for shipping its new operating system minus support for Sun's latest implementation of Java, which became available almost a year ago.

In typical Apple style, the company has not discussed its plans to support Java 6. That's a problem for a company that relies on software developers who have been settling on the Mac platform to build the latest and coolest software.

Fuller told El Reg he undertook the project as a hobby as it seemed like an opportune time to try porting the BSD Java source code. While the next round of engineering on X11 support would be straight-forward, Fuller noted, Aqua would require a "considerable amount of work."®

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