Posts Tagged ‘#gnu’

Java, anyone?

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis June 9th, 2012

“What IS Java?!” my customers often ask.  Besides coffee, Java is a programming language, and since 2006 has been licensed and handled by the GNU open-source project.  It’s original intent was to make a streamlined, object-oriented language that would work on any platform.  So you’ll find Java on all kinds of devices from PC’s to smartphones.  Android is a fine example of Java-based software, although Google  broke away and created their own version of the platform.  The language has a rocky history, with Microsoft initially helping Sun Microsystems (now Oracle) push the standards, then later becoming the villain in a dramatic turn about.  When Microsoft was sued by the DOJ for anti-trust practices, Java was part of the lawsuit.  The claim was that they were implementing Java with the intent of eventually destroying it.  Microsoft (MS) settled, and stopped shipping Java with Windows.  Nowadays you have to download it yourself.  Meanwhile MS started pushing .NET as a competitor language.  It’s all based on the C# language core, but the big argument is about open vs. closed source.  MS doesn’t like open-source software.  After all, that’s how they make their money.  So ANY open-source software is a threat to their livelihood.  Meanwhile Sun Microsystems/Oracle has helped foster and grow the Java platform to be one of the most popular and stable languages in the world.  For you, the end users, what’s all this mean?  Well, now you know what Java and .NET are all about.  They help bring your devices to life, with cool apps that are often web-based.  And YES you should update these two whenever prompted.  Sometimes they find security or other glitches that are fixed with updates.  BUT watch out!  The Java install often tries to add some other junk software, like the ASK toolbar for example.  Keep your eye out for a check box to disable this. 

Open Source

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis February 27th, 2012

Open Source Software is great.  It is built like a community project, with lots of people writing code, testing, and helping with all the details.  This is in stark contrast to closed-source, or “proprietary” software like Microsoft’s (and Apple’s).  The software is often free, and published under the “GNU General Public License” project, or GNU GPL for short.  Some great examples that run under Windows are LibreOffice, Firefox, and Firebird.   Some are operating systems, like Linux, or languages, like Java.  All these products have a large following, and don’t cost users a dime if they choose. You might think that would result in lower quality, but evidently not.  A recent study by Coverity shows exactly the OPPOSITE:  the open-source stuff had LESS MISTAKES and problems in the code than their proprietary counterparts, according to a recent article in TechWorld.  You can support open source software by downloading, using, and donating to the authors or the project.