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Re: Java development on debian ppc

"SB" == Stephane Bortzmeyer <bortzmeyer@debian.org>
"Me" == C.M. Connelly <c@eskimo.com>

   Me> Following your suggestion, I took a look at Kaffe's Web site
   Me> and downloaded the source tar file.

   SB> There is no need to do so. Since there is a Debian package,
   SB> 'apt-get install kaffe' should suffice. But:

No, there is no Debian package for PowerPC.  When I do `apt-cache
show kaffe', I get

   W: Unable to locate package kaffe

As it happens, Kaffe *is* packaged for Debian, and the source is
available, but no binary package is available for PowerPC (see
below), so no entry was made in the Packages file and APT knows
nothing about it.

   Me> 1. Compatibility.  Kaffe isn't as up-to-date as the
   Me> Sun/Blackdown JDK,

   SB> Stuff which is only available in a non-free software does
   SB> not interest me.

Good for you.  But some people need or *want* to use software that
isn't ``free'' (as in speech).  Dismissing those people doesn't
help the cause of free software, it makes you look like an

   SB> BTW, you pointed Sun's marketing plan: despite the hype
   SB> about Java, the language is not perfectly free, since some
   SB> features are not available to anybody.

How is Kaffe's lack of support for any features of Sun's JDK Sun's
fault?  The information is out there, it's up to the Kaffe
developers to write the code.

Java 2 fixes some serious problems with the Java language that
exist in Java 1.1.  You may consider these fixes part of some
conspiracy by Sun Marketing to keep other Java implementations
playing ``catch-up'', but other people recognize that many of
those changes are necessary enhancements they require to get their
work done.

   Me> 2. Convenience.  Kaffe isn't available as a binary package
   Me> for PowerPC.  They do have Debian packages (unlike
   Me> Blackdown), but only for the i386 architecture.

   SB> No, there is at least the Alpha version in Debian. (I
   SB> didn't test it but the ".deb" is in the Debian archive.)

There is no binary package available for PowerPC from either
www.kaffe.org or Debian.

   Me> 3. Compilability.  Kaffe simply doesn't build on PowerPC
   Me> Linux systems

   SB> I wasn't aware of this problem (I didn't try kaffe on
   SB> PowerPC). You should report this as a bug and an important
   SB> one. Unless it is done, there is little incentive to work
   SB> on the problem since kaffe's maintainer may be not even
   SB> aware of the fact.

I've reported the bug.  The problem in the Debian code is
identical to the problem in the source I downloaded directly from
www.kaffe.org -- their support for the PowerPC, in
config/powerpc/threads.h for sure, and possibly elsewhere, is

   Me> That means that presenting Kaffe as a free alternative to
   Me> the Sun/Blackdown JDK on PowerPC is a false lead --

   SB> I would rephrase it: if there is no Free Java solution
   SB> (which means a real and workable one, on all platforms, and
   SB> without segmentation faults at every opportunity), then we
   SB> should stop working with Java and start encouraging people
   SB> to switch to another language.

That's a fine attitude for people who can make the choice not to
use Java.  If, however, you are required to -- or even *want* to
-- write or run code that uses features (or requires bugfixes)
that are only available in a non-free (as in speech)
implementation of the JDK, then you will *have* to use that
non-free (as in speech) JDK unless or until the free (as in
speech) alternative catches up.

As far as I can see, the Sun/Blackdown JDK provides all the
functionality I'm likely to need, at a price I am prepared to pay.
It's true that not being fully free is a strike against Sun's JDK,
but *not working at all* is a much more significant strike against
Kaffe.  If/when Kaffe's features, performance, and cross-platform
support allow me to get my work done, I'll be happy to switch.

One of the freedoms that users have (which is stated quite clearly
in Debian's Social Contract) is the freedom to choose to run their
best alternative from the spectrum of software available, even if
their decision is to run ``non-free'' software.  Obscuring or
taking that right away is unlikely to encourage people to use
Debian when there are plenty of alternative GNU/Linux
distributions out there that don't restrict that freedom.


 Behind the counter a boy with a shaven head stared vacantly into space, 
 a dozen spikes of microsoft protruding from the socket behind his ear.
   C.M. Connelly               c@eskimo.com                   SHC, DS

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