Fosdem O'Reilly
2004 Edition Free and Open Source Software Developer's European Meeting


2003-12-03 - Tom Tromey


An interview conducted by Alain Buret
Few days ago, we've interviewed Tom Tromey about his GCJ talk at FOSDEM 2004.

FOSDEM - First and traditional question : Please present yourself ...

Tom Tromey - We already covered this earlier ...
quote : you may find this here.

FOSDEM - Java is something not really "open" for some persons ... wat is easy to make it include in the Gnu Compiler ?

Tom Tromey - I'm not sure I completely understand. It's true that Java isn't very open; for the most part gcj developers haven't been able to take part in the evolution of Java. For instance, we still aren't involved in the JSR process, for legal reasons.

That said, we haven't encountered any legal problems developing gcj. The problems have most been manpower-related: Java has a huge class library, and reimplementing it is a lot of work.

FOSDEM - On the other way, did you get any "help" from Sun ?

Tom Tromey - Sun hasn't been very helpful. We rely on the published documentation only. In particular we don't have access to the TCK (Sun's Java test suite).

FOSDEM - What lacks in gcj ?

Tom Tromey - About half the class library is still missing; the bulk of this is Swing. Some minor things here and there don't work, for instance, Java security management isn't fully implemented yet.

We don't have a JIT (but, contrary to popular opinion, we do have a bytecode interpreter). We're planning to implement a JIT by using gcj to compile code to shared libraries which will be loaded at runtime.

FOSDEM - Introduce in few words what you're going to talk about during your presentation ...

Tom Tromey - I'm going to talk about gcj's approach to compiling Java. I'll cover the basic facts of gcj, how it makes sense to pre-compile Java, and how we implement (or don't!) some of the trickier parts of Java (class loading, security management, binary compatibility).

I'm also going to talk a bit about why a Free Java implementation is important, and why relying on Sun is a bad move for the free software world.

FOSDEM - What are you expecting from your talk at FOSDEM and from the interactions with other developers present at the event ?

Tom Tromey - I'd like to spread the word about gcj a bit. The project has been around a long time, but has reached a new level of maturity in the past year.

Also I plan to meet up with a lot of the other free software Java developers at FOSDEM: guys from the Classpath project and from other free VM projects. I'm sure together we'll do some planning about the future of these projects, which are all interlinked to some degree.


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