03 May 2004

GNU Classpath

We did it! GNU Classpath 0.09 was released. Just 7 weeks after 0.08 but the amount of improvements is huge. And not only nice new packages and features (javax.print, javax.imageio, service provider support), but also lots of “boring” cleanup work (like making sure all C code is -ansi -pedantic clean, API documentation is clean XHTML) and important architecture improvements (like optimizing nio buffers, implementing java.io through the new java.nio support and cleaning up the runtime interfaces). We also did a lot of work to get even better/clearer Mauve testsuite results. It is amazing what a dedicated group of hackers can do.

And in the end we had a lot of fun finalizing the release. Which was nice because I got a bit burned out earlier in the release cycle from handling some new people wanting to contribute in a way that didn’t mix well with the other hackers. It is always nice to have more people on a project, but sometimes there are people that need so much
attention that it is hard to make real progress on the technical front. Clearly the project is both a technical and social challenge. It was interesting to see how the group handles growth. Luckily irc does help a lot for communicating (hop on #classpath at irc.gnu.org if you like).

We have to figure out a way to help more people join the project though. One strange thing that seems to be happening is people offering help, looking at what still has to be done and then seeing that GNU Classpath is already very complete or that all interesting tasks already seem to have people dedicated to them (some of which are actually paid to work on it). This seems to put people off. We do have a big Hacking Guide and a (admittedly small) Task List. But we need to try to improve the situation even more for people wanting to join. I am not sure how though.

Free java meeting/GCC Summit

Nothing helps a group so much as meeting in person. A group of GNU Classpath and gcj hackers will meet next month during the GCC Summit. I have never been to Canada and I am really looking forward to it. Hopefully I can also meet some people that won’t go to the Summit itself.

Sun, IBM, Free Software and java

Read a very good article by Tom Tromey on Planet Classpath about these companies and their struggle with the Free Software community. What amazes me the most is how Sun representatives make it sound like Free
, the GPL and Open Source are not clearly defined concepts. They talk about making things “mostly like Open Source, but with us in control” or about releasing things under “something like the GPL, but without all those freedoms”. Can these people please make up their minds.


Having spend so much time working on-line it will be nice to have a little off-line vacation.