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Can Android Without Dalvik Avoid Oracle's Wrath?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the just-kidding-nobody-can-avoid-oracle's-wrath dept.

Android 264

jfruhlinger writes "Despite the fact that Oracle is suing Google over claims that Android violates Java IP, Android is roaring ahead in the marketplace. Still, some groups are wondering if they can implement Android without incurring Oracle's current or future wrath by avoiding the Dalvik VM. A project called IcedRobot aims to create a GNU-compatible version of Android, and rumors abound that RIM is planning on putting an OpenJDK-version of Android on its upcoming PlayBook tablets."

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264 comments

Moot (0)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257716)

Android is sweet. It's a great transitional phase - it lets us do a lot of stuff. But cellphones are about to be as powerful as desktop PCs and laptops. Soon what will matter will not be the user interface, the OS or the apps, but the utility to the end user: the opportunities it enables, the potentials it creates. The company that converges the mobile experience with the desktop experience in a way that transparently lets people do what they want to do will win.

What people want to do, mostly, is connect with the people they care about so they can share their experiences. That's why Facebook is such a huge thing right now. We're people, and we want to share.

Re:Moot (3, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257760)

I agree that integrating the desktop with the mobile more completely will be key to future success in the industry, and the line will begin to blur more between mobile and desktop operating systems. I think concentrating on the social networking aspect of things is thinking too narrowly, though. Social networks are already pretty well integrated into most smart phones by now, and moving between form factors on them, dependent as they are on centralized servers, is already pretty seamless.

The real interesting thing will be when we can get real productivity apps to seamlessly move from mobile to laptop to desktop and back. Sun had their SunRay systems where you could seamlessly move your entire desktop session, including open apps and work in progress, from one desktop computer to another, and even transfer phone calls seamlessly between phones as you moved, say from your office phone to a conference room phone. Imagine being able to do that, except between your smart phone and your laptop or desktop, even for things like full-featured word processor and spreadsheet programs or Visio or whatever other productivity apps you use. Now imagine being able to do that seamlessly without a central server or even without the little cards the SunRay depends on. You could couple all of your devices together and they could be in constant contact with each other so switching between them would be completely seamless and near-instantaneous.

We can do some of that already of course, but insufficient software and hardware on mobile devices, as well as deficiencies in disk and network speed (especially cellular network speed) make it impossible to really accomplish all of it now. I do think this is where we're headed though, and I can't wait.

Re:Moot (1)

RudyHartmann (1032120) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257838)

I think another thing this will also mean is the end of X86 CPU dominance.

Re:Moot (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258112)

You might be right. I could save it, but I doubt Intel has anybody on staff who can.

Re:Moot (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258486)

I really want to post a jerk comment like "Aaaahahahahahaha" and just leave it at that, but I'll bite. What superpowers would you use to save Intel, if only they were willing to put their fate in your hands? The same ones you use to see the future, perhaps?

Re:Moot (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258150)

x86 is dead at the cpu.

A modern cpu will just translate the x86 instructions into risc internally. If you program under assembly you never touch the hardware directly. WIth that, x86 is not a problem like it once was.

Re:Moot (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258378)

Isn't this pretty much already done in hardware within the CPU now? You just don't have direct access to the RISC instructions.

Re:Moot (3, Informative)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258442)

It is. The x86 introduced micro-ops with the Pentium. The m68k introduced it with the 68060.

The whole idea is that more simplistic instructions allow for better pipelines. John Hennessy over at Stanford really pushed this while developing the MIPS architecture. RISC processors that use load/store instruction sets already meet this criteria. CISC processors retrofitted themselves by using complex instruction decoders that converted opcodes and their operands into micro-ops. At the cost of extra circuit complexity, you get the pipeline benefits of a RISC processor while keeping the more compact instructions of a CISC processor.

Re:Moot (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258008)

The real interesting thing will be when we can get real productivity apps to seamlessly move from mobile to laptop to desktop and back.

Yes I agree. HP were hinting at WebOS on the desktop as well as tablets and phones. I hoped that they could implement "minority report" style integration between all three so you could drag unsaved work in progress from one device to another.

Re:Moot (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258154)

The "Minority Report" interface is an OS thing. Intel doesn't do that. They do hardware. The hardware they sell now is more than capable of doing that right now, if you've got the software.

Re:Moot (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258192)

The "Minority Report" interface is an OS thing. Intel doesn't do that. They do hardware. The hardware they sell now is more than capable of doing that right now, if you've got the software.

Yes but I don't know why you think we were talking about Intel.

Oops. (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258246)

Good point. Sorry. Lost the topic. I do that now and then.

Re:Moot (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258036)

The mark of a good salesman is that he can make people want what he has. The mark of a great salesman is that he chooses to sell what people want already. Great salesmen are lazy, and know that there are enough things that are great that they need not push the crud.

How do you know the difference? The great salesman listens closely to you, asks pointed questions about your need, and delivers a solution that solves it. The good salesman bores you with powerpoints, doesn't want to hear about your special needs, and tries to sell you what he has rather than what you need.

Re:Moot (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258066)

The real interesting thing will be when we can get real productivity apps to seamlessly move from mobile to laptop to desktop and back. Sun had their SunRay systems where you could seamlessly move your entire desktop session, including open apps and work in progress, from one desktop computer to another, and even transfer phone calls seamlessly between phones as you moved, say from your office phone to a conference room phone.

The session was running on the server. Nothing "moved." It was just being viewed from a different terminal.

Re:Moot (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258302)

"Sun had their SunRay systems where you could seamlessly move your entire desktop session, [...] from one desktop computer to another"

Well seamlessy only if you were using the same screen resolution on both machines. Otherwise you'd end up with a session which didn't take advantage of your screen or one which didn't fit on it. Any other machine running VNC would be able to give you the same feature - albeit with the same limitations as the SunRay.

Re:Moot (1)

steeleyeball (1890884) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258508)

Not "The Cloud" but "Your Cloud"!

Re:Moot (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257810)

Soon what will matter will not be the user interface, the OS or the apps, but the utility to the end user:

I'd like to see it work that way, but I suspect end users will be subject to the same lock in as we're used to on the desktop.

There's too much vested interest in trapping consumers for the big players to allow the open formats, protocols and APIs that are needed for real competition. Oracle attempting to kill Davilik is just the tip of the that rather nasty iceberg.

Re:Moot (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258062)

Oxmanjusri : There's a new day dawning. Things have become chaotic. The old ways don't seem to hold.

I'm with you that the old way is a block to progress and sad. But it looks like we're turning the corner on that to me.

Re:Moot (4, Interesting)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257850)

But cellphones are about to be as powerful as desktop PCs and laptops.

Not really. They're already as powerful as desktop PCs were in, I don't know, 2002. But by the time they're as powerful as today's desktop PCs, desktop PCs will be faster too -- if only because you can stuff a lot more cores in a PC with a 200W power budget than you can into a phone with a 1W power budget.

But I agree on the convergence. Somebody needs to come up with a docking station-like thing with a ~50W CPU, several gigs of RAM, a TB of disk, GigE and a 22"+ screen which will transition the OS instance from the phone to the dock, server VM style, when you plug them together.

Then the 'dock' can stay connected to the internet even while they're not together and act as a 1TB+ remote storage and backup device and home server which the phone can access (e.g. over an ssh tunnel) using the internet or 802.11. The storage on the phone becomes essentially a local fast-access cache of the most recently used data in the larger data collection at home. This is probably how the wheel of reincarnation is ultimately going to kill off cloud computing in this iteration -- people will start using their own PC remotely instead of somebody else's server, then as phones get more powerful they start to take on more of the load as between the phone and the PC because local is always faster, until the remote PC is pretty much just a remote backup device which allows you to play high end video games and have a bigger screen and full size keyboard when you dock with it.

Re:Moot (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257914)

Mobile phones can never be as powerful as desktops. Power and capability are dependent upon the full experience. So screen real estate 24 inch screen versus, well, what ever and input devices, full size keyboard, joystick, mouse and of course mass storage.

Mobile phones can not even match net books, for the same reason.

Mobile is stuck until you have a virtual overlay, via glasses over reality and input devices to match and, those glasses are treated in much the same manner as shoes today, protection and comfort as well as interaction.

Trusting that to modern corporations is of course another matter, their greed far outweighs their concerns about our safety, in fact our safety is considered a cost burden forced upon the by big government, psychopathic insanity.

Re:Moot (1)

flowwolf (1824892) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257992)

Not true in the least way. You can have very complex programs running behind very simple GUI's. The power of software is not limited to the size of the UI. The user experience of course has to be tailored to each device, but screen size is not a cap on how powerful software can be.

Re:Moot (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258074)

Mobile phones can never be as powerful as desktops.

Even compared to a 1990 PC x86 running DOS?

Re:Moot (2)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258092)

I'm on a project installing several thousand dual-core W7 desktops today. Not a one has the processor power or video performance of the NGP. This battle is over.

The latest ARM processors go up to 16 cores SMP. They include up to 32 cores of video processing offload thanks to Imagination Technologies. They conserve Watts like the precious commodity that Watts are.

Part of what makes the hardware work well is the software. The Linux based platforms like WebOS, Android and others are very efficient and very portable. If they had to support Windows of course they would be slow, buggy, and burn those precious Watts.

Never say never. You'll lose that bet every time. Forever is a long time.

Re:Moot (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257926)

More like 2000. A fast A9 is similar to an entry level Pentium 4 machine. That isn't enough to be on PC-replacement level just yet.

Give it another two generations, and see whether MIPS gets any traction. At least on paper, the 1074k core has equivalent performance and lower power than an A9 at the same speed. I think the next four years will be exciting for processor design.

Re:Moot (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258048)

IIRC x86 (Pentium4) carries a wider instruction set with more bang per CPU cycle than ARM/MIPS do, so even then isn't a 1:1 comparison... though it is "good enough" for most people's needs.

Re:Moot (1)

FSWKU (551325) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258082)

A fast A9 is similar to an entry level Pentium 4 machine. That isn't enough to be on PC-replacement level just yet.

In what universe is that not enough? When I first started college, I pieced together a system with a Pentium III, half a gig of RAM, and a GeForce 2. In addition to the obscene amounts of Q3A and Counter-Strike I played, it was also more than capable of handling Windows 2000, Apache, VisualStudio, Mathematica, NetWare (stupid math dept. network drop-boxes for assignments), an FTP server, Photoshop, Premiere, and even (*gasp*) play movies! That ACTUAL PC handled my workload nicely, so something on a P4 level would be MORE than enough for the vast majority of people who just want email and internet out of a computer. It's amazing how well older hardware runs when you aren't saddling it with Aero/Compiz/Finder/Whatever.

My current Android phone has enough power to enable 3D graphics on a similar scale as Q3 or CS, it plays any movie format I throw at it, has an office suite, and even runs Photoshop, Skype, and TeamViewer. So how again are modern phones not powerful enough to replace PC's? When you answer, please remember that we're talking about the kind of PC required by the overwhelming majority of society (email, facebook, word processing, pictures, etc).

Bottom line, a modern phone is a handheld computer that you can call people with. And if you want to think back to the "glory days", the AGC used on the Apollo missions was considered a "real computer", and today's phones could emulate that entire system without breaking a sweat...

meatspace implications (5, Interesting)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258068)

>> But cellphones are about to be as powerful as desktop PCs and laptops.

> Not really. They're already as powerful as desktop PCs were in, I don't know, 2002. But by the time they're as powerful as today's desktop PCs, desktop PCs will be faster too -- if only because you can stuff a lot more cores in a PC with a 200W power budget than you can into a phone with a 1W power budget.

You're correct on the hardware end, but you're missing the meatspace implications.

Most people don't need a computer any more powerful than a 2002-era machine that has hardware accelerated video (unless you're a gamer, of course, or someone with a hobby or profession that requires something more). This is why so many people CAN still get things done with old machines. Stick a modern browser on a Windows 2000 box, and you can do basically everything most people need, as long as the video stuff is offloaded into a modern video card.

Cellphones are approaching that stage _rapidly_, and will most likely be there with the upcoming quad core SoCs coming out by the end of this year. The implementation as a desktop for the masses is a trivial exercise. A dock that lets you use your cellphone AS your primary Websurfing/emailing machine is all most people need at home. Game on your console or have a gaming rig set up if you need something more, but we're just about to the point of having all the computing power non-specialists need, all in a cellphone.

The new quad-core SoCs can drive 2560x1600 panels (and more), full Blu-Ray level 1080p HD video (multiple streams, even), etc. There's honestly just not that much LEFT that people need, from a practical standpoint.

Do you hear that? That is the sound of inevitability.

Re:meatspace implications (2)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258072)

Jesus, but the new /. is a fucked-up mess. *sigh*

Re:meatspace implications (3, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258108)

>Most people don't need a computer any more powerful than a 2002-era machine that has hardware accelerated video

  Most people want a fast and capable machine that won't limit them. They may not see themselves as gamers but they may have kids who want to play a Sims game. They want want to mess around in Second Life or watch full screen HD video.

The argument that most people just need a basic browser capable computer has been debunked for a long time and is one of the main reasons we see linux fail in the desktop marketplace. Jane User not only needs capable machine but a fast one and she has 5 facebook pages open, outlook 2010 running, and all sorts of bloatware to run her multifunction printer and Darwin knows what else. She may also run XP mode for some old application or occasionally edit the videos and photos from her camera.

A modern multicore machine is in a whole different ballpark than a Windows 2000 circa machine. Your antivirus is locking up your browser. Flash doesn't beat up your computer. Heck, right now we're looking at affordable 128 megabyte SSDs coming into the mainstream. Jane User will want that level of performance. She'll see her friends computer that wakes from hibernation or boots up in 6 or 7 seconds and wonder why her machine takes 30 seconds.

Every so often someone makes your prediction "640k is all anyone will need" and they're always wrong. Turns out both developers and users will make use of faster hardware and the market will continue to demand it. No cell phone with a docking station will replace that unless we have some incredible mobile CPU breakthrough and people stop seeing their mobile devices as borderline disposable. Laptops and desktops will be here for quite some time.

Re:meatspace implications (2, Informative)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258152)

Way to go in not knowing anything about what this year's crop of SoCs is capable of. Full-screen hardware accelerated video and flash is already here. The quad-core ones coming out later this year are capable of WAY more than that - MULTIPLE streams of hardware accelerated HD video, resolutions up to 2560x1600 and more. Sims and Second Life and full screen HD video are all very easy to accomplish on mobile SoCs by the end of this year. Get with the program.

Re:meatspace implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258274)

They may not see themselves as gamers but they may have kids who want to play a Sims game. They want want to mess around in Second Life or watch full screen HD video.

Android phones play HD video (and some even have HDMI ports to send it to your TV) and also have The Sims 3 available for them.

Sounds like someone needs to lose their prejudices...

Re:meatspace implications (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258230)

Cellphones are approaching that stage _rapidly_, and will most likely be there with the upcoming quad core SoCs coming out by the end of this year. The implementation as a desktop for the masses is a trivial exercise. A dock that lets you use your cellphone AS your primary Websurfing/emailing machine is all most people need at home. Game on your console or have a gaming rig set up if you need something more, but we're just about to the point of having all the computing power non-specialists need, all in a cellphone.

Certainly phones will get fast enough for most things, but for the things they're not good at -- playing high end video games, having a full size keyboard -- you still need a PC-like thing, and then you'll want them to talk to each other. Especially because the big problem phones have, and likely will continue to have for at least a few more years, is low storage availability. You can't fit 1000 hours of HD video of little Johnny learning to ride his bicycle and birthday parties and whatever on a 16GB flash drive, but you do want all that video to be immediately accessible when you're at Aunt Jenny's house and she spontaneously wants to see it. And you don't want it all on YouTube because it's private.

But the real interesting thing with a powerful phone is going to be that all that computing power is energy-efficient and therefore always-on, with an always-on network connection. The idea of a phone as a personal server is something that apparently hasn't much caught on yet, but it could be huge, especially once you start having them directly communicate with other phones. Distributed cloud FTW.

Re:Moot (1)

WATist (902972) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257868)

Security Nightmare is all I have to say.

'tis true (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258234)

Madam, I swear I use no art at all

That he's mad, 'tis true, 'tis true 'tis pity,

And pity 'tis 'tis true—a foolish figure,

But farewell it, for I will use no art.

- Hamlet, Act 2 Scene 2, Wm Shakespear.

Re:Moot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258548)

Android is roaring ahead in the marketplace.

Haha. Slashdot is so biased.

Consistent Enforcement (3, Interesting)

Prysorra (1040518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257726)

There are what seems to be a countless army of people and companies using Java, and I have never heard of anyone being sued for "Java IP anything". Something smells fishy.

Re:Consistent Enforcement (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257746)

Consistent enforcement is not a requirement of copyright claims, which are among the IP claims Oracle has brought against Google.

Re:Consistent Enforcement (5, Informative)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257774)

Embedded/Mobile Java requires licensing that regular Java does not. Basically, Oracle claims that the Dalvik VM violates their IP because it is used on mobile devices.

Re:Consistent Enforcement (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258222)

If I understand correctly, any Java or Java-like VM running on a mobile device would run afoul of the same patents, so e.g. using OpenJDK won't help, nor would rewriting the whole thing from scratch as FOSS. You'd need a different VM (and then you wouldn't be able to run any existing Android apps).

I actually wonder just how different you'd have to make it, in fact. There have been claims that Microsoft has been paying licensing fees to Sun, ostensibly for those same patents as related to .NET. And .NET VM (on low level) is fairly different in both design and implementation from Sun JVM.

Re:Consistent Enforcement (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258408)

Since the Dalvik VM is nothing like the Java VM, anything that applies for it is not unlikely to apply for any VM-based dynamical language.

Re:Consistent Enforcement (2)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257962)

The details of the Sun (now Oracle, I guess) patent grant can be found here [sun.com] . Basically:

you are free to use, copy, distribute, or compile, the Java SE system and Sun/Oracle promises not to use its patents against you. So the countless army of people using Java are fine. However, if you break the Java specification, or your JRE only implements a subset of the specification, then suddenly the entire weight of the Java patents are free to be used against you. Most people do not break the Java specification.

Google, or at least the AOSP, did. The full Java is too big to implement on a phone (presumably), so they only implemented a subset, and thus they opened themselves up for patent damages.

Note that this is not a copyright dispute: Google still has the full right to use the Java source code, since it is under GPL* (see caveat), it is their non-java virtual machine that is violating patents. Google couldn't have avoided this by using a different language, like C#, because the patents cover most modern virtual machines. Microsoft has already licensed these patents for their 'managed' code.


*Caveat: There were some small bits of code that were not directly part of the Java source code, and not under the GPL, that Google was distributing. They've since stopped.

Google can use GPL java on GPL ... not Apache (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258016)

Google can only use GPL java code legally on GPL products. Since Android is Apache 2.0, no matter how you want to look at it, the fact is that they are in violation of the license of any Java code they use.

Re:Google can use GPL java on GPL ... not Apache (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258138)

that is not true.

The GPL (at least, the sane, v2.0 version) only requires that the license you use for derivative works is no more restrictive than the GPL.
Apache is less restrictive than the GPL, so there's no problem there.

Re:Consistent Enforcement (2)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258090)

*Caveat: There were some small bits of code that were not directly part of the Java source code, and not under the GPL, that Google was distributing. They've since stopped.

Last I read, it was found that they never actually distributed even that much, unless I'm mistaken.

Re:Consistent Enforcement (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258172)

Sun sued Microsoft (and won) over Java twice.
Besides MS and Google most companies have actually played nice with Sun/Oracle's terms.

Both MS cases were rather high profile, the second one was what killed off Microsoft's JVM (for the opposite reason Google is being sued over Dalvik; the MS JVM was being called Java, but had all kinds of hooks to the underlying OS which made it and applications written for it incompatible with Java - whereas Dalvik looks like Java, smells like Java, tastes like Java and even acts like Java,a and for all intents and purposes IS Java, but Google isn't calling it Java, and worse they're insisting that it isn't Java, presumably to get around having to license Java ME, which unlike Java SE and EE is NOT open.

I agree that something smells fishy, but it's coming from Google's end. They could have avoided all of this by either simply licensing Java Mobile or using something OpenJDK-based (with the caveat being that while JME is designed for mobile devices, the JDK is not).

Re:Consistent Enforcement (1)

toriver (11308) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258524)

Well, they are not calling it Java-the-VM (which Dalvik isn't), but they DO refer to Java-the-language, since that is what they use.

Re:Consistent Enforcement (1)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258184)

It could be a test-case, so that if Oracle can take down Google here, they can then use this case as a precedent to file C&D letters.

Plus they're looking at damages and legal fees if they win, and they can potentially demand a cut of every Android-related sale.

Ditch Java (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35257730)

How about they stop making moble phones that rely on java in the first place.

Re:Ditch Java (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257770)

Java is easy to use and highly portable. There are also legions of very low-cost Java programmers available in any number of countries like India and China. Moving to a different language would be highly painful for most companies, especially in the highly competitive world of mobile software where speed to market and cost are key, and 99.9% of your users don't give a damn what language you're using or what Oracle thinks about it.

Re:Ditch Java (1)

FrankDrebin (238464) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257818)

You're right that end users don't care about the language used for apps, but Apple has demonstrated that in practice Java doesn't matter on smart phones.

Re:Ditch Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258014)

iPhone has relatively uniform hardware. On Android, just the differences between Qualcomm, TI, and Samsung CPUs means that apps using the highly-portable NDK are often incompatible, broken, or just buggy on non-targeted CPUs.

Re:Ditch Java (1)

WATist (902972) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257910)

I have to wonder how many of those cheap programmers are worth what their pay.

Re:Ditch Java (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257978)

If the users are there to buy the software, then the programmers will learn the new language to build it. There are tons of iPhone apps, more than Android, and it is a completely different dev environment. Not only that you likely need to buy a new computer to build for it. Sucko.

The biggest point is that even if they don't use Java, as long as they are using a language with a virtual machine or managed code that is at all efficient, then they will fall under these patents.

Re:Ditch Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258050)

Dalvik and Android doesn't have a Java language requirement. And C++ programmers hardly have to learn anything at all to begin programming in Java; it would be more accurate to say you need to unlearn certain practices.

Re:Ditch Java (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258212)

Java is also the achilles heal of the android platform. It is the very reason that it is and will remain a second rate gaming platform. In such small devices execution speed is critical to the users experience. Apples insistence on native code execution is spot on, it is the only way to take maximum advantage of such underpowered devices. There is a never ending of complaints of poor game performance on android devices.

Re:Ditch Java (1)

TyFoN (12980) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258406)

The games are written in C using native code most often using the NDK API. Only the UI is written in java.
Of course if you buy a low-end phone without hardware accelerated opengl you will see lower performance.

Re:Ditch Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35257988)

C++ as the main programming language of Android would be an absolute disaster, what with the widely differing hardware, poor x86 and ARM security, lackluster STL support, inefficient C++ compiler, bad/inefficient exception handling, bad memory management (RAII works well on PCs; it's not always so on mobiles), unsafe pointers/arithmetic, small standard library (though it's far more thoughtfully designed than Java's), bad file I/O (IOStreams fucking sucks), cryptic locale support, underdeveloped libraries (not even Boost would make up for it, and Boost wouldn't be available), and so on and so on....

I'm split on both of these... (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257772)

GNU/Linux Android would be FUCKING AWESOME, but OpenJDK Android would retain a good amount of compatibility!

Why Support Java At All? (2, Insightful)

FrankDrebin (238464) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257782)

WIth Oracle getting all pissy, and with alternate first-class platform-neutral languages like Python up-and-coming as first-class on Android, it may be attractive for Google to skip the Java language entirely.

Re:Why Support Java At All? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35257920)

Compatibility.

How are they supposed to dump the vast majority of their application base? It would be suicide.

Python is not even close to a substitute for Java. It's good, but not that good.

Re:Why Support Java At All? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35257954)

Yes, the compatibility issue is true.

But Python is not just good, it's damn good. I completely disagree that Python isn't as good as Java partially because I don't think it's true and partially because the statement is absurdly subjective. Saying it isn't as good as Java would definitely need some supporting arguments and a concrete definition of good.

If Android had used Python from the start, it would have resulted in a very strong API.

Re:Why Support Java At All? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258040)

Where to start....

Python is magnitude slower than Java. Python "compiled" code is not remotely close to Java's execution time. Python doesn't have real multithreading (see GIL blocking multiple threads from executing). Python is good for scripting small apps. But if there is a choice between Java and Python for basic API, Java wins today and yesterday. What tomorrow will bring is of course unknown, but GIL and current much slower execution are huge problems.

Java at similar speed to native C/C++, or at least comparable.

Re:Why Support Java At All? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258098)

Java at similar speed to native C/C++, or at least comparable.

I wouldn't say that to a C/C++ proponent.

def quick_sort(unsorted,pred = (lambda x,y: x < y)):
        if len(unsorted) > 1:
                pivot = unsorted.pop(randrange(len(unsorted)))
                left = quick_sort([ v for v in unsorted if pred(v,pivot) ],pred)
                right = quick_sort([ v for v in unsorted if not pred(v,pivot) ],pred)
                return left + [pivot] + right
        else:
                return unsorted

Can't do that in Java.

Not to mention, considering Android doesn't actually use Java, but rather the syntax and an unrelated VM. Everything you mention could easily have been implemented.

Re:Why Support Java At All? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258180)

Not to mention, considering Android doesn't actually use Java, but rather the syntax and an unrelated VM.

The standard android SDK requires a Java SDK. It post processes .class files to generate its own binaries.

Re:Why Support Java At All? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258266)

There's no reason why they couldn't compile the Java syntax directly to Dalvik bytecode. The current setup is just a shortcut. If you can write a VM for a CPU and memory restricted environment, you can probably write a good compiler. And technically speaking, the post-processing of Java bytecode to Dalvik bytecode is compiling, albeit much easier. It's not as if Google is strapped for resources or talented developers.

Re:Why Support Java At All? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258348)

I'm not a Java programmer (and I'm also not the GP) but if quicksort was showing up while profiling Java, and it couldn't be fixed in Java, it would simply be written in C++ and called via JNI.

Although this also counteracts most of the argument against Python: time-critical code is typically a very small percentage of the codebase.

Re:Why Support Java At All? (3, Interesting)

mabinogi (74033) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258146)

All those issues are VM issues.
Given that android uses a from-scratch VM which isn't the JVM, why is it impossible to consider that it could have been a VM designed to work with Python?

Re:Why Support Java At All? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258056)

Python is a communist plot to rob us of our precious bodily brackets! Our young men and women are being lured into a world in which their blocks have no brackets at ALL! Don't you see the danger? We must take action!

Re:Why Support Java At All? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257968)

Aren't they allegedly running afoul of virtual machine patents too?
A system built on python could have similar issues.

Re:Why Support Java At All? (5, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258002)

Going to Python won't automatically solve Google's problems. The issue is patents, not copyright, and the patents in question are about how to make a virtual machine environment run quickly. If the Python interpreter does things like Just-in-time compiling or whatever, then it could still fall under the patents, and Google could still get sued. Microsoft had to pay sun a lot of money to license the patents for C#.

Re-examination (1)

Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258124)

I see that Google is asking [h-online.com] the PTO to re-examine 4 of the patents in question and will probably ask for a stay of the proceedings until that is done. That should be good for a delay of 3-4 years, ten years tops. And there are 3 more in the wings that Google is likely to throw into the re-examination bin. If the PTO says yes, Oracle is going to have find some other way to expedite things if they want to see any money soon.

Re:Why Support Java At All? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258044)

That is no plan. Sure, people could program python. But python code(r)s tend to be excessively good at using processing power inefficiently (even in the standard libs) and producing obscure or crazy problems in code. Enjoy a byte that is supposed to be interpreted as string but that isn't listed in the current codepage crashing your program even in logging facilities or simple string output? Maybe you like some obscure mis-interpretations of dynamically typed code?

Besides, it does not have the libraries required.

No, if at all possible Google needs to keep Dalvik or alternatively improve OpenJDK to have the remaining missing qualities like Dalvik. The only viable alternative would be c/c++, but that would lead to many quite phone-specific applications.
 

Re:Why Support Java At All? (5, Interesting)

ADRA (37398) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258086)

Java the language is not being sued about, so lets move on from this shall we? The patents are regarding Virtual Machines that most likely affect any language using dynamic code optimization. The copyright claims are regarding apparent line by line copying which if true is just a big fck up by Google, and not a slant against the language.

Re:Why Support Java At All? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258216)

Java the language is not being sued about, so lets move on from this shall we? The patents are regarding Virtual Machines that most likely affect any language using dynamic code optimization.

Which really serves to highlight the fact that software patents are garbage and need to die in very short order.

Go with Qt, native C++ (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258496)

Google should make and advertise a well supported port of Qt for android.
This would attract most of the developers that Nokia abandoned
with the decision to go with M$ and C#. Qt is native C++, no
VM patent worries.

Re:Why Support Java At All? (1)

toriver (11308) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258528)

They had the "option" of skipping it (and focus on a different language) from day one, but the lure of exploiting the vast developer base was too strong.

Android without Java... (4, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257794)

Might as well use MeeGo. At least then contributions from the community and improvements to various parts of the operating system would benefit more than just one platform.

Take that Microsoft, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35257800)

IN YOUR FACE!

Ugh! Oracle (1, Insightful)

RudyHartmann (1032120) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257828)

I am really starting to totally loathe Oracle. I know I am not the only person that feels this way also. Oracle's PR is going to only make more people avoid any of their products. Can you say, "slow decline"? There's another big software company that is almost irrelevant on mobile phones that I think will also experience this. Guess who they might be.

Re:Ugh! Oracle (3, Interesting)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258252)

Oracle knows they are going to get negative flack from programmers and stuff.

But the people who make the decision to use Oracle technologies (Oracle database, Oracle J2EE and all the other technologies) are usually not programmers, its PHBs who like the fact that some guy in a suit is saying good things about this "Oracle" thing and are duped into buying it (and the fact that in many cases there is no comparable alternative that is as good as the Oracle product unless you are willing to sign your soul to Microsoft or IBM)

Knowing Oracle... (1)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257832)

I'm pretty sure Oracle would just attack IcedRobot if it ever got big..."GNU-compatible" or not.

wrong choice of vm (1)

cfriedt (1189527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257840)

JamVM puts OpenJDK to shame on ARM in terms of both size and speed.

Re:wrong choice of vm (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258012)

The point isn't how fast it is, it isn't how large it is; it's whether the virtual machine in question violates the Oracle patents or not. If it is a fast virtual machine, it probably does.

Why mobile OS is not needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35257852)

Why do we need a mobile OS for machines that have GHz CPUs, +512MB RAM and several GB of flash ? I can get a beagleboard and run Debian or Ubuntu on it. Qt could be used to design a UI for a smaller screen. A few telephone daemons would be needed. Why do I need an iPhone OS, Symbian, Windoes Mobile OS or Android apart from enabling companies to reap the benefits of creating a platform ?

Re:Why mobile OS is not needed (1)

asm2750 (1124425) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257876)

Because there is something called a battery and its charge is finite. Having a lightweight OS that is built from day one to sip mAh is a better way to go about it.

Re:Why mobile OS is not needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35257898)

High End smartphones (e.g. HTC Desire) don't last more than a day. So does my Thinkpad.

Re:Why mobile OS is not needed (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257928)

I can get a beagleboard and run Debian or Ubuntu on it. Qt could be used to design a UI for a smaller screen.

It's not as simple as that. You have to modify more than the UI framework, you pretty much have to rewrite the UI for all the individual applications too, and if you have to do that you might as well create a UI framework which is actually designed for phones. By which point you end up with something like Android.

I suspect your complaint is more that typically when you get an Android phone, the phone company acts like they own it and fills it full of crapware and lockdown fail. But you can always get the crapware-resistant Google version.

Re:Why mobile OS is not needed (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258018)

Such a framework already exists in Maemo. It's called Hildon, and unlike Android, it runs on Real Linux.

Re:Why mobile OS is not needed (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258096)

See QtMoko [qtmoko.org] but getting an OS to work cleanly on a mobile is very hard. You have to deal with some many corner cases which will really annoy the user if you get them wrong.

As said in times of yore, (1)

asm2750 (1124425) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257864)

ORACLE = One Rich Asshole Larry Ellison.

Re:As said in times of yore, (1)

asm2750 (1124425) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257870)

Nertz I meant, One Rich Asshole Called Larry Ellison. Blah

Why should they? (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 3 years ago | (#35257884)

There is no way oracle can win the fight against all the companies which would be hurt if this goes trough. They will settle and make some patent agreement in the end.

They don't have too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258038)

All they need is ONE legal precedence. That will force everybody else to either settle or face an almost immediate summary judgement.

Re:Why should they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258214)

Why's that? What are they going to counter sue Oracle over?

Re:Why should they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35258428)

They are not going to counter-sue. They will sue about completely unrelated things.

Is it just me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35257924)

... or is there something terribly awkward about this headline? It took me a good minute to confirm that it was a sentence for some reason.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258102)

It's not just you. It IS awkward. It's also the title of the next Star Wars movie. It's a prequel to the prequels, and concentrates mainly on the last Sith out of which Sidious became the only survivor. They include Darth Ellison, as well as the kinda-retarded Sith, Darths Fiorina and Whitman.

As an aside, Retarded Sith would be a great name for a band. Just sayin'.

Well done. good P.R. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35258492)

I just decided to get a new IDE for web development. im a web professional, you see. and, while viewing IDEs, i had had dwelt on Eclipse.

i decided not to use it, in order not to put my beans and time on something that is that intertwined with Java, only because of Oracle's bad reputation with this control freak/closed ip business.

see. bad reputation hampers something that runs on your platform. in turn, that hampers your platform. reputation counts a lot.
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