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Interesting Bedfellows

When you picked up this month's copy of Linux Magazine, you probably noticed the cool tomcat staring at you on the cover. For those of you who are not already aware of this, Tomcat is the name of the Java servlet and Java server page technology that Sun Microsystems donated to the Apache project. (For more on Tomcat, see our feature story, pg. 28.)

When you picked up this month’s copy of Linux Magazine, you probably noticed the cool tomcat staring at you on the cover. For those of you who are not already aware of this, Tomcat is the name of the Java servlet and Java server page technology that Sun Microsystems donated to the Apache project. (For more on Tomcat, see our feature story, pg. 28.)

So why did we decide to feature Tomcat on the cover of Linux Magazine? Well, we’ve been thinking a lot about the future of the World Wide Web, the coming age of Web Services (see the article on SOAP, pg. 22), and Linux’s place in that future, and we’ve come to a realization: Linux needs Java and Java needs Linux.

In fact, both technologies and communities need each other more than they sometimes seem to realize.

You might ask, “Why does Java need Linux?” Well, look at the position Java is in today. Although Sun has done a terrific job of marketing Java as platform independent, that’s not entirely true. Sure, when you’re talking about embedded devices, it’s possible for Java to effectively serve as its own operating system, but on the server side, Java isn’t really independent at all. It relies on the platform it’s running on top of. And if that the platform is Windows, Java is at risk.

It’s no secret that Microsoft has little love for Java and wouldn’t mind if it just disappeared. In fact, .NET is in many ways designed to be a Java-killer, and Microsoft would love to see it eventually win over the programmers that are currently enamored with Java. And the long-standing lawsuit between Sun and Microsoft over Java has not done much to increase the warm fuzzies radiating out of Redmond.

Of course, there’s an additional thorn in Microsoft’s side, and that’s Linux. The two most popular Web server platforms out there are Linux and Windows 2000. And here’s the problem — if Linux were to lose market share to Windows, Java would be in an increasingly precarious position. It wouldn’t be so “platform independent” if Windows 2000 controlled 80 percent of the Web server market.

Microsoft is doing everything it can to slow the corporate adoption of Linux. Many of its efforts are aimed at keeping third-party software developers from porting their applications to Linux. Microsoft doesn’t want to see a thriving commercial application market develop on top of Linux, because it knows that without that, Linux will never get the broad corporate support that it needs to thrive. Without the large market for application software on top of Linux, Linux’s growth rate will ultimately slow, and Windows 2000 will be able to gain market share.

And that’s why Linux needs Java. There’s already a large body of enterprise-ready Java software out there that can easily be brought over to Linux, if it isn’t there already. Java can help Linux gain credibility in the enterprise and can give it more of the tools it needs to compete in the battles ahead. Java can help Linux shake off the accusation of, “Where are the apps?”

Clearly, Sun is not ignorant of this — that’s why it donated Tomcat to the Apache project, and it is finding more and more ways to work with and leverage the Open Source community. However, we need to reach out our hands to the other companies and developers in the Java community and let them know that we have many common goals and interests. We can go a lot further together than we can on our own.

See you next month,

Adam Signature

Adam M. Goodman

Editor & Publisher

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