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[ossig] Usage of VM based languages in GNOME



It is clear that the advantages offered by languages/code running on
VM's are paving the way for a new generation of programs that are
cleaner/faster/more efficient to code/test/deploy compared to those in
the yesteryears.

The GNOME desktop environment is a clear example of this. A growing
number of GNOME applications are Java and Mono based
(Eclipse/Azureus/OpenOffice etc are Java based/biased with its GTK
binding/backend features, Beagle/Tomboy/FSpot etc are Mono based with
its GTK binding).

This has raised an interesting discussion about the unfortunate evils of
the platforms. One is by Havoc Pennington, noted GNOME hacker and an
advocate of Java and the other by Miguel de Icaza, the original founder
of GNOME/Mono and naturally an advocate of the Mono platform:

http://galaxy.osnews.com/email.php?blog_id=979
http://galaxy.osnews.com/email.php?blog_id=973

The differences are not technology based as both Java and Mono are
pretty decent, Mono being slightly less mature but not significantly so
compared to FOSS Java platforms. With Mono being able to run Java code,
technology platform is even less of an issue.

It's really a licensing/patent issue. One is stating the dangers of Java
licensing, the other problems with the strategic intellectual rights of
Mono.

With the maturing of both the technologies for desktop GUI platforms and
unlikely decision made to favor one over the other, we may be seeing
future GNOME (and possibly KDE) desktop releases with Java/Mono
applications replacing C/C++ apps. This may very well mark the passing
of a generation of apps built on C/C++, with the latter languages used
for underlying infrastructure code, but not higher level app code.

Of course, the astute reader would be wondering why Python is missing
from the discussion. My guess would be that Python GUI bindings are
immature. However, I'm hardly an expert in this area. kenw/kaeru/bytee
and others would be able to give a more detailed response/reasoning. It
does seem that python is taking over the role of perl in being a glue
language and little more than that which is sad considering that python,
both licensing and technology wise, would certainly be the best platform
for building the next generation of desktop apps.

Ditesh


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