Living in a state of accord.

Java On Leopard

I was silly enough to open my work email this morning, only to discover that the Apple Java-Dev list had broken out into the age old Java on OS X argument. First up here's what people have reported1:

  • Java 6 is not included with Leopard.
  • The previous Java 6 DP which was pulled from ADC a while back does not run on Leopard.
  • Upgrading to Leopard from a system with the Java 6 DP installed can cause some frustrating issues with switching Java versions.
  • Apparently Java 5 is much faster on Leopard.
  • Java 5 looks different with quite a few tweaks to the Aqua L&F.
  • Some fonts don't look right in Java 5 on Leopard because it uses the Sun 2D graphics pipeline instead of the Quartz pipeline. The Sun 2D pipeline doesn't support sub-pixel antialiasing. You can override the default and there's a few other conditions that trigger the Quartz pipeline to be used by default.
  • Java 5 supports 64bit on Intel Core 2s (but not PPC). There seemed to be some problem with it when using the Java tools in /usr/bin though – can't say I followed that discussion too carefully.
  • Lots of documentation is coming, but not much is available yet.

Pretty sure that's the Java on Leopard wrap up, the other 150 emails to the list were just the usual gnashing of teeth about Apple abandoning Java and how Apple will lose so much business if they don't get Java 6 out yesterday etc etc etc. Of course, Apple's doing better than it ever has before and JavaOne was full of people using Macs – without Java 6 – so it would seem it's all just talk and insignificant numbers of people are actually leaving OS X. As a fresh twist, this time round people are talking of porting OpenJDK to OS X themselves and finally freeing themselves from the evil clutches of Apple! Apparently no one has told them that Java 6 isn't available from OpenJDK either – it will become Java 7 and is quite some way from that yet. I think it's a safe bet that Apple will have Java 6 out long before even a reasonable uncertified port of OpenJDK is available for OS X.

Oh well, time to put my flame proof underwear on – nothing gets people going like Java on OS X posts, for those who subscribe to the comments feed, this one's likely to drown out the Back to the 80s nonsense for a fair while….

  • Stephan Schmidt says:

    Well, most people are not keen on Java 6 but fear that Apple will abondon Java completly. And most companies are on Java 1.4 and Java 5. But with the Jobs “Java’s not worth building in. Nobody uses Java anymore. It’s this big heavyweight ball and chain.” quote and how much Jobs influences everything at Apple I guess this very likely. Combine the quote with their new evangelism for Ruby on Rails and Flash, well I’m not as sure as you about the future of Java on Apple.

    And I want to play with Java 7 on my MacBook Pro should it be available for other plattforms, closures and properties are nice new syntax constructs. But perhaps VMWare Fusion with windowless IDEA on Ubuntu could be a solution ;-)


    Stephan Schmidt ::
    Reposita Open Source – Monitor your software development
    Blog at – No signal. No noise.

    October 28, 2007 at 8:54 pm
  • Gavin Terrill says:

    I was thinking MacBook Pro for my next laptop, but thought I’d better wait until Leopard comes out. No Java 6 support pretty much rules it out for me, so now I am looking at other options.

    October 29, 2007 at 12:38 am
  • Ben Fowler says:

    A lot of corporate developers are building server-side apps in Java, and most of them, like Yours Truly, are still stuck on commercial application servers. I know that the version of Weblogic we’re on is limited to 1.4.x because of a major bug that BEA hasn’t yet delivered a fix for. WebSphere is supposedly in the same basket. At work, we work on a large middle-office finance application, and we’re only now starting to look at 1.5. For most developers out there, the lack of 1.6.x on the Mac is irrelevant, and won’t be for another couple of years — and only then, for brand new applications that will take advantage of technologies requiring annotations, generics, etc. Remember, Java’s sweet spot for most people is on the server.

    Occam’s Razor suggests to me that the Steve would be totally nuts to contemplate abandoning Java completely. I can understand the argument that Java is less relevant on the client-side these days unless you ignore recent developments like JavaFX and Eclipse RCP (not music to Adrian’s ears unfortunately!), and if I were a betting man, I’d bet serious money that they’re simply not going to abandon Java on the Mac, and blow the Mac platform’s reputation as a nice hosting and development environment for Java.

    October 29, 2007 at 2:14 am
  • Stephan Schmidt says:

    Ben, ah, then let’s bet some beer :-) You can get yours should you visit Berlin. Apple will abandon Java on the Mac, 1.7 will never be released by Apple (only perhaps from Sun or the OpenJDK is ported).

    Occam’s Razor suggests to me that Steve will abondon Java. Just like the he did with NeXT, the PowerPC or MacOS 9. That’s his style. Making cuts when he deems them necessary.


    October 29, 2007 at 2:41 am
  • Ben Fowler says:

    Beer is good Stephen :)

    As I mentioned, I think that Java’s sweet spot is ultimately on the server — I may be biased as I’m a server side developer, and so it’s future on my Mac will hinge on this. I’ll stick my neck out further and say that as long as Apple want to have a slice of the server market (and it looks to me that they’re keen on retaining their niche in the hosting and high-performance computing market), they’ll support Java under OS X, even if it’s just for hosting server-side Java apps. Their committment to Java on the client is obviously not there, as I was very disappointed to see their Cocoa-Java bridge has been deprecated.

    But I still don’t see them antagonising a key portion of their core audience (developers) by dropping good Java support completely. FWIW, I was swayed towards getting a Mac because of the platform’s Java hacker friendliness, so if they /do/ drop Java, I won’t just be down a couple of beers…

    October 29, 2007 at 3:09 am
  • Stephan Schmidt says:

    Czech beer is good :-)

    Our experiences with some XServe and XRaid products from Apple was extaordinary bad. They don’t know what they do. So If they haven’t changed recently, they might no longer have a slice of the server market. But as you, I’m a server developer and so I hope the OpenJDK is ported, as I do not need 1.6/1.7 GUIs, als long as IDEA works. I’ve been moving to Apple some years ago with a Cube, because of MacOS X, Java and the Unix combination. Unix and Photoshop etc. is a unique combination. I hope this continues :-)

    October 29, 2007 at 5:58 am
  • Adrian Sutton says:

    There’s no indication that Apple is going to drop Java support or that they’ve reduced the amount of resources it’s receiving. What’s happening is that Apple consider it more important to improve Java 5 on OS X than it is to port Java 6. There is a lot of new Java functionality in Leopard – mostly under the covers, but taking a lot of engineering investment.

    I suspect Apple’s focus, while unpopular is a pretty good idea – there are only minor new functionality in Java 6, mostly people want the improved performance and stability it brings to Windows/Linux (or just to keep up because someone else is deciding what they develop to), but it will most likely bring instability to OS X whereas Java 5 just keeps getting faster.

    October 29, 2007 at 7:16 pm
  • Chris says:

    I work on a desktop scientific data analysis package in Java. We recently moved to Java 6 for a few reasons, mostly speed related, especially startup speed and the new splash screen framework. We are definitely affected by the lack of Java 6 in Leopard and hope Apple ships a Java 6 JRE sometime soon.

    October 30, 2007 at 1:25 am
  • Dennis Clark says:

    I’m a little worried about the Java issues in Apple, maybe there’s no indication that Apple will drop Java but if Mr. Jobs claims that “Java isn’t popular” or so, it means that the improve on Java 5 for Mac OS X is just a luxury excuse to quit Java 6 or even Java at all on Apple’s OS.

    I don’t want to be paranoid but Java is popular not only in development and server side stuff, is also popular in the “average-user” market.

    Abandon Java 6 for Leopard is something stupid.

    November 6, 2007 at 4:54 pm
  • Adrian Sutton says:

    Jobs’ comments related specifically to Java applets running on the iPhone. There are few if any mobile phones with a browser that can run Java applets. It wasn’t a proclamation that Apple were dumping Java.

    You may not want to be paranoid, but that’s precisely what you’re being. Apple is investing just as much in Java as they always have (and they are correspondingly taking as long to get Java 6 out as they did Java 5).

    Oh and Java is really not popular in the average-user market – most average users have no idea what Java is and if they do they think it means games on their mobile phone. If the average user has heard of Java they usually think of it as that slow, clunky looking Java 1.1 applets that froze their browser while it started up and generally annoyed them.

    November 6, 2007 at 5:07 pm

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