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Re: [rms] Re: Is Java free software?

From: Mark Wielaard
Subject: Re: [rms] Re: Is Java free software?
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2007 21:10:38 +0200


On Mon, 2007-09-24 at 14:19 -0400, Richard Stallman wrote:
> Current status of GPL Java from Sun is that *most* of it is there, but
>     right now you need to install non-free Java to compile it, and it still
>     has binary non-free plugs.
> Why can't you compile the free version with itself?

The code from Sun which makes up OpenJDK isn't complete. You always need
some binary plugs for which the source code isn't available. This
includes a graphics and font rasterizer, crypto code, sound and applet
browser plugin code.

> What about if you add other free components
> such as from classpath and/or GJC?  How adequate is
> the resulting combination?

That is what a lot of individuals have been working on. Replacing the
binary blobs with code from GNU Classpath and adapting the build process
so that it can all be bootstrapped with GCJ. You can find the result at

(This isn't an official GNU Classpath project, but a lot of the
classpath hackers are helping out. We had a machine available so we
decided to provide this for the OpenJDK/GNU Classpath merger project.)

IcedTea (called that way because OpenJDK and Java are both trademarks)
patches the build so it becomes buildable with gcj/classpath and adds
some of the fonts and graphics code from GNU Classpath (although it
didn't really integrate that easily, so some new code had to be
written), it adds the crypto code from GNU Classpath and the
gcjwebplugin has been adapted to work with the OpenJDK code. So you can
now also run java applets from a browser with it.

The result is very usable. The Fonts don't look perfect (no
anti-aliasing), there are some crypto algorithms missing (but those
needed for most general usage, like SSL network connections are there),
sound hasn't been integrated. But the result can be said to be better
(and completely free software!) than what we had with gcj and classpath
for those that just want to "use java". It does miss some of the
interesting stuff from classpath/gcj, like the GTK+ AWT integration (but
someone has been working on that) and classpath/gcj works on a lot of
architectures and openjdk/icedtea only works on x86/x86_64 for now.

It is still a little rough (we should make sure to release a new version
of GNU Classpath and gcj that includes all fixes for bootstrapping
openjdk/icedtea), but the information on
should give you a guide. And Fedora (release 8 test 2) and the next
Debian and Ubuntu GNU/Linux distros have/will include the IcedTea build.

If there are any questions please contact the mailinglist (or me
directly) for any help. People are eager to get towards a fully free
java asap.



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