Feeds

Oracle, Google, and the survival of the fittest Java

Ellison believes in open closed number one

High performance access to file storage

Sun Microsystems regularly boasted that Java ran on the most ubiquitous and the fastest growing of computing platforms: two billion cell phones.

But behind these boasts lay a chronic contradiction: the market was hopelessly fragmented, killing cross-platform application development, and Sun could do noting.

We had Java ME, MIDP, and CLDC over the years, but none could bring unity and the level of application portability found in the world of PCs and servers. Java father James Gosling has admitted as much, saying that Sun wasn't as successful as it would have liked to have been in realizing his original vision for cross-platform compatibility of Java. And according to Gosling, Google's decision to enter the handset market with Android just made a bad situation worse.

In a blog post here, Gosling has written that Sun objected to Google's idea of making the platform free to handset providers because this would weaken interoperability.

"They [Google] had very weak notions of interoperability, which, given our history, we strongly objected to. Android has pretty much played out the way that we feared: there is enough fragmentation among Android handsets to significantly restrict the freedom of software developers."

Now Oracle has taken up the cause. But according to Gosling, the skirmish isn't about patents or principles, it's about ego, money and power.

Gosling's comments confirm The Reg's view that Oracle has been looking for a Google smack-down opportunity. According to Gosling, during the Sun acquisition, he was "grilled about the patent situation between Sun and Google" and "we could see the Oracle lawyer's eyes sparkle."

Sun's final effort to close the cross-platform contraction was Java FX. The same code could – we were promised – run on PCs, TVs, and devices. That code was Sun's JavaFX Script scripting language that could run on Java Standard Edition (Java SE) for desktops and on devices via JavaFX Mobile.

Android is based on a similar principle: it implements the Dalvik Virtual Machine built on a subset of Project Harmony – the Apache Software Foundation's implementation of Java SE. Dalvik re-compiles Harmony class libraries for mobile devices' limited form factors.

There's an obvious conflict, as Google and now Oracle are promoting similar visions and architectures that combine mobile and desktop Java. Oracle has clearly ordained JavaFX Mobile as its software of choice for building feature-rich, cross-platform applications across myriad devices.

According to Oracle's Sun web site: "JavaFX Mobile builds on top of the market-leading Java ME platform to take advantage of its powerful, device-level capabilities." Also: "People building content based on JavaFX for the desktop, mobile phone, or other consumer devices will be able to deploy their content more broadly than with any other technology."

A conflict was inevitable given Oracle's Darwinist belief in being number one and not living in someone else's shadow. That's why Oracle backed Linux in the 1990s. It didn't want it's software to be dependent on a single company's operating system roadmap. Now, for the same reasons, it's backing closed source. Java FX remains the only member of the Java family not open sourced and completely in control of the code's owner.

As open source developer and activist Bruce Perens noted in his blog, Android has sidestepped both the usual Java interface options of AWT and Swing. Google has created its own interface toolkit instead. It's this point that Oracle seems to have pounced on, in order to claim Android doesn't conform to the official Java SE or Java ME specs.

The question is whether Oracle can make its case stand up. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service
Playing Cat and Mouse with the media
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app
Jibber-jabbering addicts turfed out just as Zuck warned
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.