Java and 64bit architectures

Write once, run anywhere

Or so they say.

Some time ago I decided to use a 64 bit OS since I have a 64 bit processor on my computer. Many people I consulted told me it would be a painful process, since lots of software do not work well outside the 32 bit world.

They prove themselves almost wrong. Debian has about every piece of software compiled for its amd64 version. The exception being Macromedia Flash. But lets leave Adobe out of this one.

The other, really annoying issue, is Sun’s JRE plugin for web browsers, and Java Web Start. There’re no such things for 64 bit JRE versions. There haven’t been, ever. Despite the ton of complaints filed regarding this issue on Sun’s Bug Database, and even when there is a 64 bit JRE.

A brief exploration of the Database will bring anyone interested in this issue’s attention to the top rated RFE, also known as Bug #4802695.

Bug #4802695

This so called Request for Enhancement was submitted on January 14th, 2003.

Two years later, people kept begging for a 64 bit version of the plugin. The first response from Sun, as seen in the Evaluation field of the RFE, is dated June 1st, 2005, and states that the solution was deferred to a future release.

A couple of days after that, and until recently, you could almost feel people’s anger, disappointment and frustration when commenting on that RFE.

A second official response came in January 16th, 2007, stating that this issue would be resolved on Dolphin.

Keep on waiting…

Java 1.7, formerly known as Project Dolphin, seems to be the light at the end of the tunnel. But this looks like a really long tunnel. I’ve just downloaded a JRE 1.7 snapshot build, and there’s no news on the plugin yet.

My Thoughts

I consider this RFE a serious bug instead of an enhancement, because of the first phrase stated on this entry, being it Java’s slogan. 64 bit architectures are a reality, and have been for a long time now. This issue should’ve been fixed years ago. Otherwise, the slogan should have been changed to something like “run on any 32 bit OS”.

The issue that really annoys me is that I can’t shake the feeling that this whole problem exists only because you can run a 32 bit OS on these 64 bit processors. This backward compatibility feature has sent some projects, such as this one, to their companies’ lowest-possible-priority list. I hope I’m wrong.

References