cbj is currently certified at Master level.

Name: Brian Jones
Member since: 2003-02-09 18:08:25
Last Login: 2006-10-11 14:02:29

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Homepage: http://www.haphazard.org/~cbj/


My earliest experiences with computers were either with the Apple II's or Tandy TRS 80's at school or the Atari 1040ST my dad bought in 1986 which could actually display 512 colors unlike the previously mentioned boxes. I still have the ST in a box in my attic.

I became indoctrinated in the ways of UNIX through project EOS at North Carolina State University in the Fall of 1992, the start of my college life. I started pursuing a Computer Science degree beginning in the Summer of 1994. Along the way I joined the now defunct housing program called CATT, where fifty or more geeks lived together in a designated part of a wired dorm and did geeky things, community outreach, ran their own AFS cell/network, etc. As part of CATT I became familiar with this thing called Linux but it wasn't till the Summer of 1997 that I bought my own computer from some of the proceeds of working at a CO-OP for two semesters.

I joined a business called Oryxsoft with two of my closest college buddies in 1996/1997 to bring online quiz-based software to market. We sold some stuff to a book publisher based on Java and were getting the software into NCSU's Chemistry department. By the end of 1998 we decided to close up shop because no one had the time to work on the software which was already using XML to create quizzes in a format we called QDML.

Today I continue to work in my spare time on free software, previously as maintainer of GNU Classpath, while my working hours are spent on commercial software for a company in order to pay for my middle class geek lifestyle.


Recent blog entries by cbj

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Since advogato is apparently closing its doors, I will point you to my more permanent blog over on livejournal.

I was perusing the Harmony mailing list and came across this gem, way to go Sven! The under-current of FSF/GPL "haters" lurking about the Apache community and this mailing list has always been quite disturbing. There are a few people that aren't bringing "harmony" to the F/OSS Java scene. I think the founders are doing a pretty good job at trying to herd the cats.

Assuming the licensing issues will be worked out, then there are a couple of tasks that someone with time (as in not me) could take a stab at. The first isn't that hard, not really sure why it isn't done yet other than you'd have no where to put it because it would be illegal!

  • Using Apache's portable runtime, re-do all of Classpath's JNI code (which isn't that bad...) and make it work on something it doesn't now. I think all the macro stuff could go away when swapping in APR.
  • GTK + native Aqua to avoid X11 or SWT "peers" for Classpath Swing?

Like many fellow geeks, I've recently returned to the movie theater to watch the Revenge of the Sith. While I enjoyed seeing the movie, I think this review just about covers my feelings on the things that were good and the things that were bad about the movie itself.

I saw the OSCON is in Portland, and since my wife and I want to visit there sometime soon I looked into the price for the convention. The nearly $1000 price tag is fairly prohibitive for my meager personal budget. I long for the old Linux cons NCSU/RedHat used to put on for real people where little money is involved and you could see some of the cool stuff people were doing (back then) in person. I am not too sure the commercialization of that effort really helped open source and free software geeks, except maybe to enlarge the potential job pool involving said software.

A small firestorm was set off over the weekend as Slashdot noted the proposed creation of Apache's project Harmony. Since I tend to not read Slashdot on weekends the first I heard of this was from a phone conversation with the other former Classpath project maintainer. After getting the scoop from #classpath however I'm quite happy that Apache has taken an interest in making Java permanently free software. Below are my list of pragmatic reasons for why Java must be free software.

  • What Sun gives freely today, may not be free tomorrow. Anyone who has built a house of cards understands what happens when you pull out a card from the foundation.
  • Sun provides Java runtimes free of cost on only a few processor architecture/operating system combinations. This leaves out many others that should not be left behind or to innovate without.
  • When developers encounter a bug in the Java runtime provided by Sun they are legally barred from fixing the bug and using the fix in their software (where you want to distribute the result), forced instead to wait for Sun to release an official version.

If you are a developer looking for more information, read Mark's email to the Classpath community concerning Harmony.

What concerned me most about project Harmony had to do with the phrase, "from scratch". Everyone in the free software Java world is aware that GNU Classpath has been around for 7 years now. There is no need to start from scratch. There are recourses available to us, Classpath's contributors, should Apache and the FSF not work things out on their own that can still prevent re-inventing this wheel.

To the critics of the current free software Java initiatives and the comparisons to Mono in terms of pace of development, please keep in mind that Mono has had paid, full-time, hackers from day one. I was never paid to work on Classpath, which is rather unfortunate because I really wanted to be and I think a number of Classpath's current hackers would make that claim today.

Harmony can be a good thing for us all, to ensure Java remains a free and viable platform for implementing software whether or not Sun continues to support it, or exist.

So a couple of things have come to mind since I've started working on the tools again. One is despite the fact I have a mostly working implementation using a new bytecode reader library I don't really want to commit to supporting or introducing another such library into the pond of around a half dozen such libraries already in existance. It seems like a better route may be to try submitting patches against gnu.bytecode to remove the use of Class.forName() in favor of resolving classes through a programatically supplied classpath. I guess it means throwing away some work but hopefully all is better in the end. No response on the error I'm getting with gcj trying to compile cp-tools on the gcj list. Found something similar via google but it doesn't look good. I'm still convinced I'm probably doing something wrong since this is my first attempt at compiling anything non-trivial with gcj.

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