Time to stop kidding ourselves about Java?
Warning: rant mode
Reading some discussion on the latest move by Apache about the proposal for yet another open source jvm implementation I got a rude awakening to the fact that the idea that Java offers a credible option for GNOME is a joke. When it comes down to it the only reason Java has been put onto the table have been due to worries about Microsoft holding submarine patents on Mono. Java’s mindshare in the wider GNOME community is close to non-existant today and there aren’t really anything on the horizon that could plausibly alter that.
While Red Hat’s work on gcj and Eclipse is interesting its a far step from being something anyone is excited about. I mean considering that both Red Hat and Sun are failing to make even their own desktop developers excited about Java says a lot. There is a big difference between something fitting corporate vision and policy and something actually being attractive to developers.
The real question facing the GNOME community is not a choice between Java or Mono. If that is the choice then Mono have already won. The question is wether we should allow Mono into the platform or not. Personaly I have come to the conclusion that we should, and I have yet to see a convincing argument why we shouldn’t apart from some rather foggy arguments about Microsoft threats. The showdown between Microsoft and free software in the field of patents is coming no matter what; when that day comes we need to have the financial, legal and political clout to carry the day. I don’t see that Mono is a more likely candidate for being at the heart of that battle than a lot of other things.