I read Mario and Roman’s posts this morning and they inspired me to post too, after realising that there was a lot of stuff that’s been going on that I also hadn’t blogged about. Firstly, Google Summer of Code closed its doors to student applications on Monday (well Tuesday really, here in Europe) and we were rather disappointed to find only two applications for GNU Classpath, both for java.util.Scanner. This is a real pity, as I think we had some really good ideas on the list (and even more interesting ones were left to one side after AICAS didn’t get in as a mentoring organisation).

I think students picked Scanner because it’s used on many undergraduate courses these days (something of which I was blissfully unaware, as it’s years since I did any introductory Java course or read an introductory book). Unfortunately, the future of such an idea is really dubious, as I explained to our first applicant online, as there is already an implementation (no idea how good or complete) by a student of Christian Thalinger (twisti) which we hope to get into the codebase, once the legalities are sorted out. Equally, we are looking at using BrandWeg to get the OpenJDK version; this has only really ground to a halt because I found we’d need to either update our regex implementation or also bring in the OpenJDK one and I simply haven’t had time. Again, BrandWeg was on the ideas list, but no takers :(

Personally, I’ve mainly been looking at IcedTea recently, in preparation for the OpenJDK challenge work. I haven’t really blogged on the details of this yet, but my first port of call will be to take an OpenJDK/IcedTea build and attempt to get the class library from that to work with one of our Free GNU Classpath VMs. Rather than trying to build the Sun interface into that VM, I want to use that process to figure out the best way to create a more well-documented VM interface including support for VMs that don’t want to go the native route for the VM interface. I intend this to be an interactive process so I’ll be posting results and hoping for feedback as we go along. As the OpenJDK challenge infrastructure gets sorted, I expect this will take place under the auspices of an OpenJDK project. I’ll be tagging appropriate blogs with the ‘VM interface’ category so feel free to track them.

One question that does spring to mind is whether the challenge projects are intended to work with OpenJDK or OpenJDK6. IcedTea work has pretty much shifted to OpenJDK6 (in the form of IcedTea6) with good reason; distros want to ship a stable Free equivalent to JDK6, not an early alpha of JDK7 (which doesn’t yet even have a JSR attached to it). Ideally, I think we should maintain both, as the IcedTea porting process seemed to suggest the differences weren’t too major. But feedback here would be welcomed. I’d also like to make the new VM work easy for others to test, so hopefully some integration with IcedTea will be possible there too. I’m very impressed with IcedTea so far, especially Gary’s zero port (as my previous blogs hopefully illustrate). There are some niggles, but lots of eyes and people testing it in different environments will fix these. It’s great to have OpenJDK on PPC64 for one thing!

To close, I notice that people are moving around in the Free Java world (as my reference to Mario’s title in mine hopefully indicates). First, Tom Marble left Sun earlier this year, and now we find that Dalibor has successfully stepped into his (hopefully clean) shoes. To me, there doesn’t seem to be a more appropriate replacement, though it does make his governance board position interesting… Mario has also now moved to AICAS, so it seems like most people are getting new jobs and different roles in the new Free Java world brought about by OpenJDK. Things will change for me as well soon, as I’m due to finish my PhD here in October (well the funding runs out at least, which means I need some alternate source of cash at any rate). So it will be interesting to see where I am in a year from now too…