OpenJDK on the Mac

Recently Apple Inc. surprised users with a small note in the latest Java 1.6 updating stating that Apple would deprecate the Apple JDK on Mac OS X. For a while users of the system were left in uncertainty about the feasability to keep using Java on Mac OS X. Even though Apple was not always as fast as one would like with providing security updates or new releases of Java, the fact that it shipped with the OS gave some comfort about its support.This week Apple and Oracle jointly announced the project to bring OpenJDK to the Mac. Though it brings some relief to the Mac users still many questions remain.

  1. When will we see the first results of this project?
  2. Will Apple and Oracle make it easy to install OpenJDK (through the new Mac Store)?
  3. Will this actually improve the speed of releasing new versions and security updates for the Mac version?
  4. Will the PowerPC based Macs be supported?
  5. What does it mean that a new graphical client will be developed?
  6. Will it integrate seemlessly with the Mac desktop?
  7. Will applications continue to use a system default Java install, or will applications start to ship with their own version, with all the risks of duplication and outdated versions?
  8. Will there be a robust update procedure that will promptly notify the administrator about new versions, while not being obtrusive or a system hog?

The answer to most of these questions lies firmly with Apple and Oracle. We can hope that Apple’s usual attention to providing a good user experience will prevail and give us a better future for Java on the Mac, but it is upon us users to ask these critical questions and make sure they will be addressed.

If it all works out it will be for the better and make Mac OS X a little bit more open, which is not a bad thing with all the movements Apple has made towards closed systems and more control in the last years.

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