The JavaLite operating system initiated by Open Software Foundation’s Research Institute, is being built on the MK++ microkernel that the Foundation – now part of the Open Group – developed in its B3 security work. We have our suspicions that IBM Corp’s silence regarding Sun Microsystems Inc’s JavaOS is being caused by an attraction to […]
The JavaLite operating system initiated by Open Software Foundation’s Research Institute, is being built on the MK++ microkernel that the Foundation – now part of the Open Group – developed in its B3 security work. We have our suspicions that IBM Corp’s silence regarding Sun Microsystems Inc’s JavaOS is being caused by an attraction to JavaLite. IBM’s own microkernel is based on the Software Found-ation work and the Research Institute’s plans for a modular operating system sound remarkably similar to IBM’s ill-fated Workplace OS strategy. Sources at IBM remain tight-lipped over whether the company is even evaluating the Software Foundation work. According to Software Foundation Research Institute head Ira Goldstein, JavaLite’s use of a microkernel makes the operating system a mix and match system that enables any variant of the Unix operating system to be dropped in alongside the Java Virtual Machine, JVM. So JavaLite differs in concept from Sun’s JavaOS, which will be simply a lightweight Java system targeting network computers and other Internet devices. The modularity will enable users to determine what kind of operating system it will be – a monolithic Unix-cum-Java one or a lightweight pure Java play for Internet devices. The feature is aimed at Unix fanciers looking to adopt Java without abandoning Unix applications. It will also let users configure the network to apportion functionality between local devices and the server – a key feature, Goldstein said, because the Network Computer model can put a lot of strain on the server: when you talk about a lot of thin clients there also has to be a fat server around somewhere. While the Research Institute calls the operating system JavaLite internally, Goldstein said We probably can’t call it that because Sun is guarding the Java trademark. It is alternately called TIE or Trusted Internet Environment. The initial implementation of Java-Lite, which will use Sun’s Java rather than the Software Foundation ‘s own version, will build on a scaffold: a full-blown Unix operating system that will be whittled down over various incarnations until there is nothing left but things like network infrastructure.
Not politically motivated
Goldstein estimates the first full-bodied version of Trusted Internet Environment will emerge this quarter with releases every three months after that, leading up to the lite version of the operating system showing up in the middle of next year. Meantime, the Software Foundation claims its clean-room implementation of Java is not politically motivated and that its Research Institute tackled the task to solve some of Java’s technical problems. Goldstein claims the Osmosis implementation is not license-related but concedes that the Software Foundation dislikes the way Sun licenses Java. Accord-ing to the Foundation, Sun not only collects a royalty, typical in the Unix world, but any enhancements made to Java belong to Sun, not the pa rty making the enhancements. The Software Foundation will make Osmosis freely available to non-commercial users as the University of Illinois National Center for Supercomputing Applications’ Mosaic was, but will charge for commercial use. The Foundation, forever recycling its past, will use its star-crossed Distributed Computing Environment to pass messages and transactions between separate Java systems. The Research Institute is also working on a way to marry the garbage collection function in Java to the memory manager in the hope of speeding up real-time performance. Osmosis also features a turbo compiler written in C++ with B3-derived coding that will compile both portable byte code and executable code. The compiler will work wit h both Java and Osmosis and will contain a fork that will enable it to be implemented for either 32-bit or 64-bit operating systems without the performance penalty Sun’s Java is said to impose on 64-bit systems. Hence its backing by Digital Equipment Corp, the only vendor with a 64-bit Unix, Digital Unix. The Java Virtual Machine will begin implementation in the autumn with prototypes due the first quarter next year, raising questions as to whether it will arrive too late to take advantage of the Java surge. Goldstein said there are others doing clean-room Java implementations, notably Natural Intelligence Inc, whose Java Virtual Machine for the Mac has been licensed by Apple Computer Inc as well as a group on the Internet building Jolt. The difference, he said, is that those efforts only seek to create Java compliance while we’re not trying to reproduce Java, we’re trying to improve it. á