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Re: Some feedback from ApacheCon
Re: Some feedback from ApacheCon
Sun, 24 Jul 2005 00:10:29 +0200
Mozilla Thunderbird 1.0.2-6 (X11/20050513)
Leo Simons wrote:
Mark Wielaard wrote on harmony-dev:
Some of the people around the GNU Classpath projects really don't
feel that they are part of Harmony. And I do try to bring them in. But
when some of these people tried to get a feeling how/what people thought
about what they have been working on for the last few years there wasn't
any real technical feedback.
Hi Leo, hi team!
I visited the ApacheCon Europe on Thursday evening, and I believe that
remark from Mark led to Apaches and other folks I've never met hugging
me. I hereby pass on that hug to the GNU Classpath project in general,
and everyone else.
I gave a "lighting lottery talk" at ApacheCon EU that pointed out some of
the stuff that can be done with the free java stuff right now (like natively
compiling eclipse). There were more than a few people that couldn't quite
believe it. When I mentioned lines of code being written around here, lines
of code being written/day, etc etc, there were some spontaneous "ooh"s and
Yeah. It has been fun to see Leo use his 5 minutes to tell people about
all sorts of cool stuff happening and working with the Free Runtimes in
an excited and engaging way. He improvised a really nice instant talk
and did make people curious whether all of that is really true and how
well it works. Geir did a 5 minute brief on Harmony and encouraged
people to come and meet at the BOF, with the resulting crowd filling
Studio A nicely.
Given that BOFs took place during dinner time for most people and after
free beer was had by the audience during lightning talks ... quite an
achievement by Leo and Geir. There is a good amount of genuine, friendly
interest among Apache developers about the long haired friends of Mark.
I have put 'wear a wig next time' on my TODO list for ApacheCon Europe 2006.
The BOF has been going on on IRC in parallel with Mark contributing
answers, questions and insight via the wire. That worked quite well, as
far as I can tell, thanks to Leo acting as the official transcription
guy. The questions in the BOF largely centered around the legal aspects,
of course. ;) I believe it came across pretty nicely that the legal
issues indeed are complicated, dealing with Sun's licenses is awfully
complicated and I elaborated on our practices in Kaffe & GNU Classpath a
bit and why you therefore should avoid getting bound by SCSL, JRL and
all that. Geir explained why exposure to Sun's code can lead to
copyright violations, we discussed how the compatiblity certification
process may work, and why bringing ASF and FSF to the same side of the
table is hard work but both possible and desirable and so on.
On the technical side, questions were raised what contributors should
know before starting, and the usual literature was recommended, and how
to make sure one's code will run on Harmony wrt usage of unspecified
classes with Geir explaining that such code is VM-dependant, and in
general therefore broken, and me pointing people to GNU Classpath's wiki
for a set of classical portability mistakes and how to fix them. The
audience was also interested into what future may bring, and that led
pretty directly to dinner.
I have, among other people, met Stefan Bodewig, from the Ant project,
and had a nice chat with him on ant & kaffe and how we are glad to see
Apache Gump being up again with a Kaffe instance to see where ant & GNU
Classpath Tools project do not work well enough together. We've
discussed upcoming changes to rmic (thanks to Archit's work) briefly,
and so on. I've also met with various other Apache developers from as
various projects as SpamAssasin, Cocoon, Forrest, and so on. They are
all nice, fun-loving people with various preference of hair-styles. Give
them a hug, if they happen to be at a conference you are at (OSCON was
mentioned a few times and I recommended people go and see Tom Tromey
present about the state of the art). Danese Cooper introduced me to many
interesting people like Ben Laurie, but eventually I ended up discussing
licenses and GPL compatiblity all night long with Cliff Schmidt,
apache's VP of legal affairs over drinks, license printouts and notebooks.
Several people came up to me later saying they failed to get stuff running.
And honesty, it ain't so easy to figure out five-line configure statements
if you're used to drag-and-dropping a file into your applications folder and
being done with it (I'm a mac user). If you guys get your stuff out into
those linux distros (and into DarwinPorts please!) and eclipse and ant are
by default configured to use it then there will be more people using it. To
See http://kaffe.darwinports.com/ and
http://www.jpackage.org/rpm.php?id=1816 for some starting points. Maybe
those should be more prominent on the (still ugly) Kaffe web site.
Debian, Ubuntu and Fedora Core 4+ have got packages for the latest GNU
Classpath & free runtime releases, with Debian offering most of them out
of the box.
One of the most important things in this 'make it bloody easy for people
to hack on it and try it out' area, in my opinion, is to make sure that
the eclipse project file in GNU Classpath works. After the big merge is
complete, now, there could be an eclipse project for gcj, that checks
out GNU Classpath into gcj's checkout and just build the whole mess,
letting you switch from Eclipse on a non-free VM to a liberated Eclipse
on GCJ runing the latest GNU Classpath code in minutes. Tom, wanna give
that a try?
That said, I almost never run any of sun's CLI tools. I just use Ant, or
Maven. I've been told over 90% of the java developers out there use Ant as
their build tool of choice. That percentage is not very likely to go down.
So integrating tightly with ant is *very* important.
Yep. Apache Gump has been great in helping both Ant developers and us
figure out what just broke, which tasks rely on weird stuff, and which
bugs are remaining in ours.
Do remember there is an Apache Top-Level Project dedicated in part to
getting you guys a certain kind of feedback, and we finally got things back
up and running:
I consider the free java community the second-most important user of Gump
(first one is Apache itself :-)) and quite a bit of our development time is
going into making sure the next version of gump will be even more useful for
projects like classpath, kaffe, ...
As I said ... gump is great. How hard would it be to get the GNU
Classpath project and its dependencies in the Gump as well, and have the
gump autobuilder bug us when the build breaks again (due to Cairo CVS
breaking APIs for example)?
Michael Koch's automated build breakage blame script has proven very
useful in the past, having the gump watch our fingers would be nice, as
Apache atm considers fixing this mess so important that it is on the top of
the list for our legal team (actually, it is slots 1 *and* 2). We've got a
whole bunch of people spending a lot of their time on all sides (usually
spare Sunday evenings and the like) trying to bridge the licensing divide in
the java world. And the thing that drives this effort atm is that Apache
wants to use and distribute and contribute to projects like classpath.
There is a lot of good will there on both sides, and actual progress
, which I find very encouraging. We may have license peace in our
There is also a bit of frustration on both sides that the licensing
harmonization discussions are not going as fast as they could. This used
to be mainly on Apache side, now it seems to be mainly on our side.
I think it's understandable, but unfortunately dealing with large
organizations like the FSF or the ASF takes time, since they tend to be
conservative, and do things gradually. If you are a member, contributor,
or friend of either organisation, you probably appreciate it when your
organisation takes time on making solid legalese decisions involving
your works, like the FSF does with the GPL3.
If you are like me, you are "Not A Member" of either FSF or ASF, and
could probably tell both the FSF's and ASF's that their mamas eat spam
, but chances are that wouldn't really help either.
 I had been nudged by Leo to enter the lottery myself, but did not
get drawn. So no "Friends, Comrades, Contributors! I have not come here
to praise Java, but to bury it!" speech from me and the Free Software
Song this time around. I'm saving that one, along with the obligatory
whacking of shoes on microphones and a Che Guevarra wig for some future
 http://mit.edu/jync/www/spam/childhood.html and
 http://www.gnu.org/music/free-software-song.ogg . I particularly
like singing "We'll throw out those dirty licenses, even more, hackers,
even more". But then, I also hang out on debian-legal ocassionally, and
like to help achieve license peace between ASF and FSF one day. After
that's done I'll go and fix the Middle East Peace Process in my spare
time, I think.