The dawn after sunset

The announcement of Sun being bought by Oracle last year was a shock for many. Since then for months the situation was quite unsure.

As I already wrote in "Sunlight at the end of the tunnel", I had very good experiences with Sun (and that was not just a single time). It was something completely different than my Experiences with Microsoft.

What I did not emphasize in that post (but in my comments on forums and blogs out there) is that all the products managed by Sun seem to have something in common: They are AWESOME!

For example:
  • Open Office
    I used it for a very long time - even successfully for years even under Windows before switching to Linux. The stability, reliability (if you get externally written documents) and the outstanding PDF export makes it already worth using it!

  • Java
    Java is a very mature programming language and when I had to decide my programmer's future, the top favorites (after longer evaluation period) were Java and .NET (C#/Mono). Beside the fact, that platform independency was a big opportunity and the only way for software development with long-term safety of the investment, I found the libraries of Java much more complete than for .NET and especially because of the coding quite strict conventions very readable. And the libraries, toolset and frameworks available is also way bigger. - But this is not only thanks to Sun - this is thanks to the very large community! I also appreciate that they did not bloat Java with too many language features just because somebody wanted to see feature x or y. So I think it was wise to not develop the Java language core too fast.

  • NetBeans
    The best integrated development environment (IDE) I ever worked with. Although starts a bit too slow in my opinion it is still better compared to my last Windows experiences with Visual Studio .NET. I did exhaustive comparison with Eclipse and although Eclipse startup was a bit faster and refactoring options were more, the rest (stability, visual GUI editing and all those small whistles an IDE usually has) was better in NetBeans or either non-existing in Eclipse without searching hours for a matching Eclipse plugin in a version that was reasonable stable.

  • VirtualBox
    I switched over to VirtualBox first when I already planned my move to Linux and VirtualBox OSE (Open Source Edition) was there in the repository by default. So I built new test machines on VirtualBox rather than on VMWare on my Windows development machine. I noticed that it used less resources but from the features lacked a little behind VMWare in some areas. But it developed fast in the last one or two years and so you get everything you need by now. It has even a very cool seamless mode where somehow the client machine gets merged with the host and it seems to be one environment.

  • MySQL
    I think this was one of the last products that joined Sun, but nevertheless they created a very awesome toolset around MySQL that goes a lot further of what is offered along with Microsoft SQL Server.

There are a lot more products, but the above are those I use often and they are a stable and substantial part of my daily work. So Sun was a great, great company - thanks to the people behind.

Now, as the merge with Oracle is finalized, after watching the first press announcement webcasts from Oracle, I am quite positive again. Although I did not watch them all (connection speed got quite down and I was not really able to watch any more), I found the presenters very motivated and excited about the newly added manpower and product portfolio. They are not going to keep everything (Kenai for instance is going to die), but they seem to know the strengths of Sun quite well. They commited strongly to Java, NetBeans and OpenOffice as well as JavaFX for example.

And also the JavaOne conference is going to stay - just moves from the date to be held together/integrated with Oracle World.

So I hope they will continue in honor of Sun with the awareness of the responsibility for those very large communities behind the products I mentioned.

Larry Ellison said "We're in it to win it"! - I am quite positive that Oracle will do a good job. And people reading my blog (and not only those ;-) ) know that I am very critical looking at every new stuff.

Related post: Sunlight at the end of the tunnel, Popular Java myths, The future of Java.


Web application security

Today I noticed this video: "Clickjacking".

I have no idea how it is done but it shows one more time that web applications are not the overall optimum solution for every development.

If such things are possible, then there are serious risks in using web applications for accessing critical,confidential data!

Is it so much more difficult to download and launch a jar file by double click? Deployment is not necessarily complicated as not every application needs a complex and high sophisticated setup process. ;-)

Related posts: Web vs thick client, Your holy machine.


New Year's IT resolutions

As far as I read on forums it has been already a lot of times that people told that next year will be the year when Linux breaks through on the desktop. And the first discussions I found about being 2010 being the year of Linux already have been from 2007.

My opinion is: 2010 will not be the year's revolution that Linux will break through on the desktop.

The reason is: Most people do realize now, that many things sucks as they are evolving lately:
  • People need to buy the operating system for new (even if they were completely fine with the old one) when they buy a new PC (because hardware comes along with a OS license already included).
  • People can't reinstall their OS for new because the installation CD somewhere got lost or they notice that there was no CD shipped with their notebook only after the HD crashed.
  • People use more and more "standard software" which costs more and more money.
  • Installation of program B is corrupting installation of program A.
  • Computer getting slower and slower over time.
  • Computer getting unstable over time.
  • People notice that proprietary file formats force them to buy expensive software (upgrades) and that these formats are risky for long time archiving.
  • ...
There is basically one root issue: Vendor Lock-in! - Companies tend toward trying to bind the customer to their products and services.

During the last year I was asked more often than ever if it would be a good idea to switch from Windows to Mac. This is an indicator for me that that people's satisfaction with Windows is somehow fading away. But Apple is not the solution in my point of view. The only real alternative I do see is Linux. Why? Although there are (mostly) companies behind different flavors of Linux (the Linux distributions), the core is everywhere the same and the general philosophy is similar - e.g. to endorse Open Source, open standards and the GPL. With Linux you have the widest freedom and least vendor-lockin.

But why can't be 2010 be the year of success? - It's because of the vendor lock-in a switch usually can't be done easily and quickly. This has to be well planned and there must be a step-by-step implementation!

I started years before my switch to prefer open standards and open source software. So at the final switch I was already familiar with the most new applications, as I used Firefox, Thunderbird, Open Office, VLC, GIMP and many others already under Windows.

For a company that is considering a switch or either is just unsure about the IT future this means:
  • Save data in an open standard format (e.g. EML instead of MSG, ODT or RTF instead of DOC and so on).
  • Prefer to buy and/or use software that is available on different platforms (Open Office instead of Microsoft Office is a big candidate here).
  • When investing in new software development plan a platform independent solution.
These are considerations and policies that prepare you for a change and will bring you more long term safety of your investment (and hence higher ROI). However, all the changes that need to be implemented cannot be done over night!

The journey to the future happens on a road that you don't know yet. Will you rather buy a car that just runs fine on asphalt or one that works fine on a rocky road also? - So is with software. Using the platform independent solution you are better.

Related posts: Going Linux, Cross-platform solutions, Software on speed.