IcedTea and integration of applet, webstart, javascript/rhino, visualvm, etc.

Mark Wielaard mark at
Sat Sep 13 18:36:12 UTC 2008

Hi Geir,

On Sat, 2008-09-13 at 10:02 -0400, Geir Magnusson Jr. wrote:
> On Sep 13, 2008, at 9:44 AM, Dalibor Topic wrote:
> > Meanwhile, the IcedTea project augments the OpenJDK jdk6 project with
> > independent implementations
> > of the plugin and webstart, called gcjwebplugin and netx. Those
> > independent implementations have a different
> > set of strengths and weaknesses from Sun's implementations: they  
> > work on 64 bit Linux, for example, a platform
> > that hasn't been supported by Sun's own plugin yet. On the other hand,
> > gcjwebplugin currently lacks an
> > adequate Java-JavaScript integration that's required by some applets  
> > to execute as well as expected.
> Seems like Sun is using IcedTea as a kind of "shadow project"?  I  
> don't follow things closely anymore, but someone was asking me about  
> this the other day and I couldn't really explain it clearly.   I find  
> the whole thing baffling.

It really isn't that mysterious. It is just a couple of us guys and
girls having fun with hacking on and assembling some free software
stuff, mostly based around OpenJDK and for a large part consisting of
people who have also been involved with other free software java
projects for GNU/Linux like GNU Classpath, cacao, kaffe, gcj, etc.
There is nothing "shadowy" about it, just look at

In a way you can see it as an continuation of all the ideas which we
shared around GNU Classpath. Creating a large, enthusiastic bunch of
people, communities and companies working on all aspects of libre java,
working together in harmony.

> > Sun's Java SE 6 download comes with a lot of (third party) software
> > bundled in, for example
> > Java DB, Rhino, Visual VM, etc. OpenJDK jdk 6 project leaves such
> > software out as much as possible,
> > concentrating on the necessities required for a compatible
> > implementation of Java SE 6.
> I don't know about VisualVM, but the rest is free/open  software.  Why  
> not just include those as well?

We do. IcedTea comes with applet plugins, based on gcjwebplugin and
Deepak is now extending the new IcedTeaPlugin with
LiveConnect/JavaScript support (./configure --enable-gcjwebplugin
or ./configure --enable-liveconnect). I recently added javax.script
javascript support through Rhino (./configure --with-rhino). And Joshua
added VisualVM integration (./configure --enable-visualvm), although
that drags in a big piece of NetBeans (also under the GPL now), so we
are looking at how to package that easier/separately. I believe the only
thing not integrated yet is JavaDB, but I don't really know any programs
using that. If there actually are, we can certainly add that to the mix.

As extras IcedTea also comes with cacao integration as replacement for
hotspot on those platforms that hotspot hasn't been ported to
(./configure --with-cacao). And Zero as hotspot based interpreter
(./configure --enable-zero) and shark a jit backend for hotspot still in
development (./configure --enable-shark).

> So why not jettison the 3rd party code and focus the community around  
> the open/free stuff?  Seems like the thing to do if Java is free.

That has been and always will be the goal. Sun (or any company really)
cannot do it all alone (maybe partly crippled by some of those business
decisions you mention), and that is why we are here to help out wherever
we can and provide us all with a completely free Java implementation,
integrated well, and as free as you would expect from anything bundled
with a GNU/Linux distro.



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