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Java 6, Mac OS X, Linux - follow up and reality check

Posted by fabriziogiudici on December 21, 2007 at 3:46 PM PST

An Apple-made developer preview for Java 6 on Leopard has reappeared - but these are only marginally good news.

In fact, we are still missing any official word about when the final release of Java 6 will be available; and being the latest Java 6 preview only for 64-bits hardware, this opens up another bunch of speculation and doubts. And even when Java 6 will be available to us the incident won't be closed, since it's clear that the same thing will happen again for Java 7. The only hope there is about the community and the open source Soylatte.

My conclusion is clear and final now: Apple considers Java and Java programmers as second-class citizens. Now one could ask what you can do to change things. People have blogged, complained about it - and they were right, being myself one of those - but the sad truth is that Apple won't be listening to us. Steve Jobs was so friendly with the Java community back in 2001 when Apple was in big despair trying to raise after they almost disappeared from the market, while now Apple turned his back (what a mean behaviour) since they have managed in lobotomizing masses of customers with shiny little toys such as the iPhone and are running with high profits. They managed in having their customers listening to them, thus they just don't need to listen to customers. And Java developers are a small fraction of users to be considered in any way (and those requiring Java 6 now a further sub-fraction). Even though all Java developers in the world stopped buying Apple gear (the only thing a customer can actually do to put pressure on a manufacturer), they will hardly notice it.

So, no big surprise that at the recent JavaPolis there was the usual show off of speakers with their bright, Apple-branded laptop supporting their presentations. You are probably asking: but, really, none of them was willing to show some form of protest?

I indeed tried to. Since the time of the big whining wave because Leopard appeared without any trace of Java 6 I decided that my JavaPolis presentation would have been held with Linux. I even figured out starting my presentation with a big, ironical "thanks" to Apple and then putting a penguin sticker over the Apple logo. After all blueMarine runs on all the major platforms, and actually with Ubuntu it runs even faster than with Mac OS X. But a "small" detail stopped me. Even though I ran about half-dozen of presentations in the latest two months, and for each one I tried the Linux switch, the sad reality is that I wasn't able to configure my MacBook Pro for having Ubuntu enabling the video-out signal. No video-out, no projector, no presentation. This in spite of many people helping me, sending their configuration files that, unfortunately, just didn't work. When - ten days before JavaPolis - I tried to download the latest ATI drivers (resorting to that ugly practice of compiling them) I ended up with the video drivers working apparently well, at the point that all Compiz effects shined, but a severe flickering was introduced in every place where blueMarine uses JOGL.

At that point, I gave up. Speaking to the Ubuntu community: missing to provide an easy support for conference speakers is really shooting in your own feet.

In any case, this post is not intended to be negative about Ubuntu. The thing is improving year by year and personally I've started spending more time in developing with NetBeans under Ubuntu than under Mac OS X. As I already said, Java - and specifically NetBeans-based applications - run much faster, while Tiger quite often sits down swapping virtual memory on the disk (even if you have plenty of free RAM). I still plan to held future speeches with Ubuntu and I hope that in future things will be even better and maybe my next laptop won't be an Apple any longer - yes, I'm completely disgusted with Apple's attitude and, if possible, I won't spend any other euro on Apple's products. But putting away Mac OS X now is not an option. Yet.

PS Coming down to more mundane things, I've just finished consuming the huge email queue that got accumulated in the latest two weeks. If you wrote me short questions in these days, you should have received an answer. A lot of other emails requiring more complex answers have been tagged and I'll be on them in the next days. If by the end of the year you don't get an answer from me, then I probably lost your email and you're kindly asked to send it again. Thanks.

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