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September 29, 1998

TRANSVIRTUAL HELPS KICKSTART JAVA FREEWARE

By CBR Staff Writer

In the heightened atmosphere surrounding Linux freeware, we’re reminded that there’s an embryonic freeware, or open source code industry, being created around Java. And we’re not just talking Java applets. Tim Wilkinson, London City University researcher and early Java developer wrote the Kaffe OpenVM ‘clean room’ implementation of Java and then formed a four-person company called Transvirtual Technologies Inc in Berkeley, California, to peddle it. The desktop version of Kaffe OpenVM, effectively an implementation of Sun’s PersonalJava 1.1, but only one quarter of the size, does not require any IP license and can be subsetted. It comes with its own standard class libraries, including Beans and Abstract Window Toolkit (AWT), native libraries, and a highly virtual machine with a just-in-time (JIT) compiler for enhanced performance. It’s available under the GNU public license, which means anyone who develops software using it must make that software freely available. Transvirtual also sells a custom version for developers that uses a faster, smaller virtual machine implementation and comes with additional tools. It claims it’s cheaper than Sun’s Java license. Kaffe’s about to go into a second beta – production versions should be available by year- end. Wilkinson claims to be near to inking a big deal for the software and says the company is also working on APIs and tools for embedded Java developers. It’s also supporting the JavaCard 2.1 specification in its software that will be used by Schlumberger. Transvirtual says one of the main problems faced by anyone trying to implement a clean room Java is figuring out how some of the Java technologies work. While there’s significant interest in the Swing interface libraries, figuring out how AWT operates is basically down to trial and error. It is wondering if someone will re-write the Java 2D APIs.

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