Hewlett-Packard Co is pushing on with its Chai clean-room Java implementation, despite continuing disagreements with Sun Microsystems Inc over compatibility. This week at the Embedded Systems show in San Jose, HP launched version 4.0 of the Chai Java Virtual Machine, along with the Chai Appliance Platform, a set of integrated tools aimed at device makers […]
Hewlett-Packard Co is pushing on with its Chai clean-room Java implementation, despite continuing disagreements with Sun Microsystems Inc over compatibility. This week at the Embedded Systems show in San Jose, HP launched version 4.0 of the Chai Java Virtual Machine, along with the Chai Appliance Platform, a set of integrated tools aimed at device makers (see separate story).
HP originally developed Chai because Sun wouldn’t let it participate fully enough in the development of its Embedded Java technology. HP duly launched the first version of Chai in March 1998, and promptly licensed it to Microsoft Corp (CI No 3,373). Unlike Insignia Solutions Inc, which has now won Sun authorization for its clean-room Joode version of embedded Java, HP doesn’t have rights to the Java logo or official Sun certification for Chai. Insignia managed to salvage its own dynamic compilation and garbage collection additions to the JVM and still win Sun approval, but only after working through extensive compatibility tests. But HP objects to the fact that Sun hasn’t made the testing criteria public. A third clean-room Java firm, Newmonics Inc of Naperville, Illinois, is in the same position. Intel Corp invested in Newmonics earlier this year.
Jim Bell, general manager for HP’s Embedded Software Organization, told Computerwire that having certification matters very little – in the last six months only one company has even asked about it. Bell said it was more in Sun’s interests to encourage other vendors to use its logo. Last year, HP won support from four of the major embedded operating systems companies for Chai: Integrated Systems Inc, Lynx Real-Time Systems Inc, Microware Systems Corp and QNX Software Systems Ltd – owning between them nearly 50% of the market. HP’s own Thin Client Operation, Siemens AG’s Sicomp family of industrial microcomputers, and Hitachi Ltd are all expected to come out with new products using Chai in the fourth quarter of this year. And this week, Lynx said it has become the first real-time operating systems vendor to deliver ChaiVM, on its LynxOS operating system. Chai has also been chosen as the virtual machine for Jtron, the Java implementation of the Japanese Tron real-time operating system, and has been licensed by Enea OSE Systems Inc for its OSE operating system.
But there are signs that support for Chai has been slipping. In March, Microware (already a Java licensee) lent its senior scientist Peter Dibble to work on Sun’s Real-Time Java Experts Group, which is defining real-time specifications for Java. In June, QNX changed its mind, and took out a licensing agreement with Sun for PersonalJava and EmbeddedJava. And on Tuesday, ISI announced a licensed version of PersonalJava and EmbeddedJava platforms for its pSOSystem real-time operating system.
The new appointment of Patricia Sueltz, previously head of IBM Corp’s Java software business, as the new president of Sun’s software business (see separate story) might potentially change the situation. Bell says HP has worked with Sueltz in the past, and believes she has more empathy for the issues outside of Sun. We would welcome any moves to open up the process. Meanwhile, Bell says HP is trying to keep things real by talking about the products it is currently shipping, and has been shipping for one and a half years. Sun, he says, continues to withdraw and redefine products in the embedded systems space. HP promises to launch its own first Chai-based product, a thin client running Linux and Chai, on October 28th.