SAN JOSE – I recall the first time I heard someone in a tutorial describing the Dalvik virtual machine in Android. I scratched my head wondering what this strangely named thing was all about.
Now it’s clear. Google lacked a Java license from Sun Microsystems (now part of Oracle). So it forged ahead with a slightly modified version of the technology.
Now the whole software world is waiting to see what comes out of the Oracle vs. Google
patent infringement suit. I put out my predictions recently
But today an interesting wrinkle in the debate bubbled up when James Gosling publically came out in favor
of Oracle in the suit, with some unstated reservations. Gosling's comments are in effect a de facto judgement from the tech community, whatever courts someday decide. There’s a great debate on the issue at Gosling's blog.
Gosling is credited as being the father of Java at Sun. He was not only a key engineer behind the software, but Sun made him the jovial public face of Java at its events, flinging Java T-shirts to the vast crowd, sometimes with an air cannon.
Even back in those days Java was a troubled child. Various OEMs contorted it this way and that to fit into their pre-smartphone handsets, set top boxes and other systems. Interoperability was virtually non-existent in the tangle of loosely confederated Java specs.
I give Sun credit for developing the technology and trying to make it open. In the course of trying to herd the cats, Java just got away from them
For better or worse, Google has created a more stable and relatively more interoperable alternative with Android by marrying Linux and Java-like technology both as a native environment and as a virtual machine platform. Android is less open than Java was under Sun, but much more of a unified market force in the face of a dozen variants of mobile Linux.
Yes, Google has an awful lot of power these days--enough to attract well-staffed investigations
on two continents. Ah capitalism!
At Sun, Gosling let Java loose on the world, but it got away.