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A Big, Sad, Happy Day

Big: Oracle buys Sun.
Sad: Sun and I have a long, happy history together (in the UK, Sun engineers would frequently ring me up and ask for help; I knew a Sun 3/75 from top to bottom [I remember signing an NDA to get a look-see at the board schematics and other such “forbidden fruit”]). I have always regarded Solaris as the one ‘true’ Unix. Sun has always seemed innovative, young (sometimes immature) and ‘cool.’ I guess that coolness factor will evaporate now.
Happy: For a long time, it has seemed to me that Sun had lost its way. Now there will be a new pathway opening in front of it. Perhaps that pathway won’t be exactly the one it would have chosen for itself, but I am happy that some road remains…

Where now for Solaris?

Seems pretty clear: ‘Unbreakable’ Solaris, coming soon to a datacentre near you.

Where now for Java?

Ah. Now that is the question as far as I’m concerned, isn’t it?

It’s a major part of why Oracle wanted Sun…no doubt.

Oracle’s (even more than Sun’s) early statements of “Use your Java skills everywhere: from Stored Procedures in the database, through the server on to mobile devices.” always resonated with me: it made good business sense (and that should tell you what a doomed idea it was…)

Trouble is: history.

At first, Java was a pissy little language. I didn’t take it too seriously (didn’t stop me making $$$, though!).

Before release 1.1 came along, IBM contributed a big slab of technology and know-how and raised Java up quite a few levels. I saw some of this first-hand. Thus, for the longest time I said: “Java is practically a product of IBM’s experience; IBM should buy Java.” But over time, they stopped driving (or–more accurately, I guess–were prevented from driving) and so went off to play with Apache and then Eclipse. The end result is a lot of excellent Java-based tools and componentry but not enough at the ‘core.’

IBM recently made a few noises but eventually didn’t follow though, it seems. Apparently however, they opened the door for Oracle to step through.

Oracle have used Java a lot; their fusion middleware stack, etc. is all Java; they have made some excellent products using Java; they have contributed to JCPs; they have bought other big users. This is all good. But I can’t see that they have ever really driven Java.

Stability seems to be what they need and will be aiming at.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

The question is: what gets dropped?

Take IDEs: Oracle now has the Eclipse-based Workshop, JDeveloper and now Netbeans on its sheet. I was worried about them having two

Another: JRockit. What is going to happen to the best server-side JVM out there? I was pretty mad at Oracle for restricting access to JRockit after they bought BEA. Now it seems that the JVM pack of cards will be up in the air…

My prediction is that some other pissy little language is going to become “safe harboour” and the industry will run after it like some dumb slathering dog chasing a bone: “Never mind hey! There’s another silver bullet in the chamber, let’s see what that does!”

A proof of this, I offer SAP.

Seems inevitable, doesn’t it.

My vote would go to whitespace. If we’re going to throw away all the good stuff that has happened since the late ’90s, we may as well really throw it away ;-)

Let’s remember the “bad old days” too (not too long ago): when DEC forced BLISS at us, IBM wanted you to use PL/I, Burroughs were the ‘Algol’ shop, etc. etc. These days persist with all the silly little SQL dialects out there, not to mention Microsoft .Net. Do we really want to return to this? The vendors’ natural proclivities are to “lock us in” to their worlds…


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