Marimba Inc is preparing to add authentication and encryption capabilities to its Castanet web push technology. This will mean it will be able todistribute non-Java applications for the first time. Up to now Castanetdelivers Java applets that operate within a sandbox, preventing access to
the computer’s file system. If authentication is added, users will be ableto download non-Java applets such as Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs), RealAudio or ShockWave applications, and so on, because they will know where the applets came from, and whether those applets can be trusted to access their computer’s file system safely. Encryption is a slightly more thorny problem for any US software company, especially one whose business is software distribution, as is Marimba’s. Marimba co-founder and chief technology officer Arthur van Hoff said the company has signed a licensing deal with RSA to use its encryption technology, starting with Secure Socket
Layers (SSL), and moving on from there. He said Marimba is likely to write a set of encryption APIs that its partners can use, so if they are in Europe or Asia they can use a level of encryption different from those in the US that are bound by the current restrictive encryption legislation. He said a few issues over the license still need to be ironed out because the RSA stuff cannot be used to encyrpt random data; only specific things, such as credit card numbers. Marimba content partners need to able to fire off any type of software without violating the encryption license. Further on
from that, Marimba is planning to add billing as part of the Castanet service, some time next year. This is obviously crucial to its success, and the lack of it at the moment perhaps gives an indication of how long this stuff is going to take to go completely mainstream. Van Hoff said Marimba is likely to use a third-party micropayment system to present Castanet users with a single bill, no matter where their content came from. He said the only place such a technology exists at the moment is in the telephone system, where users get a single bill, regardless of whose lines the calls were carried over, even if they call overseas. He likened the move to a dial-tone for the web. Marimba recently joined the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), but van Hoff said at the moment the company is just in it to learn about the standards procedures, rather than offer up any of its standards. He said the year-old Palo Alto, California-based company needs first to establish market share, which in turn may bring about de facto standardization, and then we will put it in the public domain, eventually. But van Hoff was worried about Redmond: if we move to submit it to standards body, they [Microsoft] could just copy it, he said. He dismissed Microsoft’s recent submission of its Channel Definition Format (CDF) push technology to the W3C as a move to take a totally meaningless component and make it a standard. Van Hoff wouldn’t say when Castanet 2.0 will arrive, which will also support the Java Developer’s Kit (JDK) version 1.1, but it is expected this year.