Reaching a Milestone

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-05-09 Print this article Print

OO.o is primarily written in C++. Its open-source APIs (application programming interfaces) are licensed under the LGPL (Lesser General Public License) and SISSL (Sun Industry Standards Source License) open-source licenses. The OO.o code itself is licensed under both LGPL and SISSL.

The project has recently reached its "Milestone" build, Developer Snapshot Build 1.9.m100.
This means that OO.o is on the brink of being launched, when the FSF crystallized the objections against the use of Java into a request for volunteers to create a version that doesnt rely on Suns Java.

The FSF has also recently called on the free software community to create a free version of Java.

Click here to read about how open-source advocates have long sought to open-source Java.

Stallman explained his objections to the use of Java in such open-source projects as OO.o in an article on the "Java Trap."

"If you develop a Java program on Suns Java platform, you are liable to use Sun-only features without even noticing. By the time you find this out, you may have been using them for months, and redoing the work could take more months. You might say, Its too much work to start over. Then your program will have fallen into the Java Trap; it will be unusable in the Free World," wrote Stallman.

Still others have suggested that instead of using an open-source Java, these components be rewritten in an entirely different language such as Ruby or Python.

However, some programmers have just gone ahead and found fixes for OO.o, which enables it to run with GCJ. Caolán McNamara, a programmer with Red Hat who specializes in word processing, has created one such set of fixes.

A source at Sun said, "OO.o 2 works OK with GCJ" and that "Red Hat has been tremendously helpful in the effort to make that so, filing bug reports etc."

In addition, while OO.o will run without a JVM (Java Virtual Machine), it will use one if its available, and its performance has been found to be much better if Suns 5.0 JVM is used.

But, as Scott Carr, OO.os quality assurance project co-lead pointed out, "OO.o will run perfectly well without any JVM, but if there is a JVM then it has to do checks to make sure what features are supported in the JVM as well as run various functions. These are only run in the presence of a JVM."

Stephen OGrady, a software analyst at RedMonk, said, "I dont anticipate much impact on business adoption, as OO.o is simply the most credible Office alternative available at this time."

Still, "While I think Stallman et al. are likely to find some support for their efforts, said OGrady, "I believe that the nature and size of the current [OO.o] codebase will be a deterrent against credible free [software] alternatives, at least in the short term. It would be one thing if Java was limited to small features here and there, but as the platform things like Open Office Base the effort involved in porting would seem to be non-trivial."

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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