Skip to main content

Apple's Java 6 on Mac OS X available

Posted by fabriziogiudici on April 29, 2008 at 11:27 PM PDT

Now the scoop is not that we had to wait 1.5 years before it to be available, but the fact that it only supports 64bit Intel processors. No support for 32bit, no support for PPC. Yeah, PPC is dead, but how many existing installations exist with PPC and 32 bit Intel? And how long you'll have to wait before there's a decent percentage of 64bit installations so you can put it as a requirement for your app? Not counting that if you bought a Mac earlier than 2 years ago, like me, you just need to buy some new gear to start developing with it.

Of course this is just whining. As a lot of people will hurry to say today, life is good, Apple is nice, and there's absolutely no need to worry about.


I'll be the first to admit that I'm a huge Apple fan. However, I am disappointed by this news. I own a iMac G5 and a MacBook Pro. Both are still great machines. Unfortunately, my MacBook Pro has an Intel Core Duo. So my machines can not run the "official" release. There are some nice improvements for Swing based applications in Java SE 6, and it would be nice to take advantage of them on the Mac. I wish there was some way to motivate Apple to keep the JVM's in sync across the different architectures. Does anyone know if there is a PPC port of Java SE 6?

Well, at least there is nothing to whine about. When I look at how crappy Netbeans 6 runs on my Quad Core Xeon Mac Pro with 8 GB RAM, I don't need a PhD in marketing to understand and explain why Java was such a huge failure on the desktop - and why especially in the Apple world, which is almost a pure desktop market, nobody really cares for it and why almost nobody has ever used it to write apps for the Mac with it. From this perspective, it's more surprising that Apple still ships Java at all. Java did not work out as a multi-platform GUI or web applet language, the reality is that it failed to deliver on that promise and therefore basically became a server language and environment for large enterprises. There is nothing wrong with that, that's the place where it excels. But, as said above, with maybe few exceptions, that is NOT the place where Apple is. They probably only still port new Java versions because they use it on their own servers and web store. The World Health Organization, my employer, is rolling out a brand new Management system -- which runs on Oracle's implementation of Java 1.3... So much for the real world out there and the demand for Java 6.

winfriedmaus should just try to install Linux on his Mac Pro and see NetBeans fly. :-) In fact NetBeans 6.0.1 performs quite well on my MacBook Pro when I reboot in Linux and the same does my desktop application (6.1 might have some problems on its own and it's another story). So the problem is probably Mac OS X, but it's another story again.

Given that, it's not what we were discussing about.

Java (on the server) to Java (on the desktop) allows some clever things. If previous versions haven't managed to get everything right at both ends, all the more reason to get the latest one. Winfriedmaus should stop trolling and read about Java 6 update 10.

I guess AAPL assume most developers will have a machine that's less than 2 years old. Seemed to be mostly developers who cared about java6 not shipping in Leopard (it's not like java is visible to most end users).

But it's not a matter of developers only. If I want to ship an application that requires Intel 64 to run, I'm killing myself, because only a small fraction of users today owns it. This means that we must wait for 1/2 years before deploying Java 6 is a viable option.

goron, there's a problem in your arguments. As far as we're talking about applications developed ad hoc for a given customer, you're right. If we start talking about applications for the mass market, Apple's strategy is just putting Java developers in troubles: they make products hoping that people select them among competitors; but if you are forced to tell people "hey, to use my product you should get rid of your laptop bought just two years ago", you're losing ground. Of course you can stay with Java 5 for some time, but this means your applications won't be as fast as they can, again putting you in troubles.

There does seem to be a lot of whining (to quote Fabrizio) about this (OSX, Java 6, 64-bit Intel machines only, very small user base). I do support that view - I think a 32-bit version would have been very nice, and I can't really believe it would have been too hard to do.

But @lafros, how many end users out there have Java 6 update 10? Or indeed any particular version of Java 6?

Now I don't develop for normal end users - I develop internal apps for banks, and none of my clients are targeting Java 6 (on the desktop).

My last client couldn't reliably move from 1.4 to 5 until it got to 5 update 10 because of bugs and stability, so Apple may have a point about not producing a Java 6 until it's properly stable and consumer ready.

I'd say most of the complaints are from developers that want to play with the bleeding edge without caring about their target market. It's not as if Java 6 actually gives you much that couldn't be done with Java 5. The exception being better performance, but if your customers are that concerned about performance, they'd probably be the ones with newer 64-bit Intel Macs..

Anyway, as a developer, I welcome an official Java 6 on OSX, and wish now that I could have a 64-bit one on Windows too (without having to reinstall a 64-bit version of the OS).

I really don't see what Apples problem is. People are obviously willing to support a version of OpenJDK on OSX. With a little collaboration Apple could have timely drops of Java for comparatively little investment and we get the latest toys to play with.

Netbeans 6 runs faster on my Mac under Java 6 than it does on my Windows box.. (with similar processor speed), oh well.. Maybe it's just because my Mac has 4GB and my Windows desktop has only 2GB? Hopefully SoyLatte will fill the gap for PPC and 32-bit until Apple merges in with the OpenJDK development and things start to go a bit smoother...

@winfriedmaus: My company produces a desktop Java application that gets great performance. On Windows and Linux. Apple's awful support of Java is *why* Java is so slow on your Mac Pro. And the version of our app in development requires JDK6. And as a large company, our hardware upgrade cycles are >2 years.


It's not surprising that the WHO is out of touch with technology. It is, after organization, and a healthcare organization to boot.

There are many of us who are not saddled with archaic and ineffective architectures and technologies, or work for archaic and ineffective organizations.

NetBeans runs GREAT on my MacBook Pro as well.