Java Packaging – The next big thing?

Last year at LinuxTag I gave a presentation on GNU Classpath and what I thought was the next big challenge, packaging all those liberated programs written in java.

One could say that we have succeeded in providing working code for a far range of existing Free Software projects written in the java programming language. The real challenge now is no longer producing working code (although help is still very much appreciated!). The applications that really matter do work on the free stack and are now included in the latest GNU/Linux distributions. The real problem now is the packaging and versioning of all that code. We are used to having pretty decent versioning and dependency control on GNU/Linux systems. That is not so in the traditional java world. The next challenge is sanely integrating the free java world with the GNU/Linux world. And finding a solution for the dependency and version problem that came with the liberation of all this cool new code. We are extremely happy that the major problem today is finding ways to sanely integrate and build the large and diverse set of Free Software that the community produced. And we hope your next Free Software project will be based on GNU Classpath and this rich set of libraries and tools build on top of it so that it will be included in your favorite GNU/Linux distribution in the future.

Over the years we have unlocked so many cool programs and libraries that they started to overwhelm our packagers. Fedora is now organising a Reviewfest (which some Debian, Gentoo, JPackage packagers will be observing with interest) to prevent what happened 2 years ago when we had a full free J2EE stack based on JOnAS and GCJ which never got through the full review process. Which meant that you had to know the “secret” location for all the rpms and install them by hand instead of just running yum install jonas and let your package mechanism take care of all the interdependencies.

And with the upcoming full liberalization of OpenJDK we will most likely see a tsunami of new packages for the various GNU/Linux distributions (JPackage provides a nice package overview). Tom Marble is even threatening that Sun is considering re-licensing some more core libraries as free software. It will be interesting times. And I am really looking forward to the OpenJDK and Distro DevJam sessions during Fosdem in 2 week.