23 November 2011

Debian drops Oracle Java

I am sorta bummed that the Debian devs have decided to ditch Oracle Java. At the present time, there are no sun-java6 packages in Wheezy, and sid has old builds (for some reason). It is unclear to me whether Oracle Java was dropped because of licensing issues or because it has unresolvable security issues. I assume the former even though the bug report gives the impression of the latter.

In theory, the free OpenJDK packages provide a sufficiently stable and functional alternative to Oracle Java. But if you read up enough on this, you'll find that people are still having issues with OpenJDK. I am among them. In particular, I am finding OpenJDK provides noticeably slower performance than Oracle Java. With things like Processing and FreeRouting, the difference is quite noticable.

Of course I would prefer to use the free OpenJDK over the proprietary Oracle Java -- but OpenJDK just doesn't seem up to the job yet, at least not for the kinds of things I need Java for. There is a bit of a vicious cycle here -- OpenJDK is unlikely to get the kinds of optimizations it needs unless people are actually using it and bump into its limitations. To this end, I will happily take a bit of a performance hit or other inconvenience, but not as much as I am seeing.

I am now trying to rip out all the sun-java6 and OpenJDK stuff on one of my computers and install the full-fledged Oracle Java experience (JRE, browser plugin, Webstart, and JDK) from the Oracle site. I'm working with the JRE only at the moment, and it's proving to be a pretty painful process. More later if I succeed.

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