A Very Happy Marriage

This month's issue of Linux Magazine is our second annual "Java" issue. As we did in March of last year, we've set aside the features of the magazine to explore new and emerging Java technology that you're likely to hear more about -- and if you're a Java programmer, probably code with -- in the months ahead.

This month’s issue of Linux Magazine is our second annual “Java” issue. As we did in March of last year, we’ve set aside the features of the magazine to explore new and emerging Java technology that you’re likely to hear more about — and if you’re a Java programmer, probably code with — in the months ahead.

Originally, Linux Magazine did not cover Java regularly — simply because there wasn’t much to cover. Strange but true, Linux and Java were not always the dynamic duo they are today. While Blackdown supported Java ports to Linux, Sun didn’t officially support Java 2 on our favorite platform until early 2000, more than four years after Java made its public debut in May 1995.

Today, of course, Linux and Java are nearly inseparable. Indeed, the pairing of the technologies is “greater than the sum of its parts.”

Linux has emerged as a real competitor to Windows and UNIX largely because of Java. As Bob McMillan wrote in last month’s feature on “Linux and Wall Street,” Java is the alternative to Microsoft technologies and the migration path off of Windows and proprietary Unix.

On the flip side, Java has enjoyed renewed life largely because of Linux. Touted early on as the programming language that would cross all platforms and operating systems, a raft of problems — most created by Sun’s competitors — muted Java’s bold claims and ambitions. For example, Macromedia’s amazing Flash and Shockwave technology outpaced Java applets in the browser, while Microsoft’s deviation from Sun’s Java specification and ultimate refusal to support Java on Windows doomed Java desktop applications, too. But combined with Linux, Java has become the choice for creating and deploying server-side applications.

Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt that Linux and Java have been co-opted by IBM for its strategic plans. IBM’s Linux and Java expertise, evident on developerWorks — an invaluable source of information for Linux, Java, and XML — let’s IBM compete head-to-head or beat the likes of Microsoft, Sun, BEA, HP, and others.

In the near future, Linux and Java may have even more in common: both will be open source. Late last year, Java Community Process (JCP) members voted to change the community’s structure, officially supporting open source implementations of Java.

All in all, Java seems more important than ever. Java is emerging as a preferred programming language on Mac OS X; Nokia recently announced that it is supporting Java in a wide-range of current and future mobile terminals (as Nokia calls them); and the Java-based, open source Eclipse integrated development environment is gaining momentum as a powerful alternative to proprietary development environments (bootstrapped, not surprisingly, by Big Blue’s donation of a ton of Java code).

I think you’ll really enjoy our Java issue. First, Josh Bloch and Neal Gafter test your Java savvy with some very twisted “Java Puzzlers.” Next, Chuck Cavaness, author of a new book on Jakarta Struts, shows why Struts has become an extremely popular framework for developing J2EE applications. And last, but certainly not least, “Java Matters” columnist Rogers Cadenhead introduces XOM, a new Java package for processing XML.

I’m off to Linux World. I’ll bring you back a t-shirt.


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Martin Streicher, Editor

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