The JCP defines a reference implementation of Java which has enough in the way of free packages and IDE to make Java attractive to use. The fact that SUN wants to maintain some control of Java is bearable. Otherwise the language could get hijacked into OS specific variants like J++. That would hurt not just Sun but the open source java community as well. Last time I tried using GCJ there were too many features (like JAXP for xml) that just couldn't compile. Ideally changing compilers should not require any changes in the code or in the build tools so that requires that GCJ support generics, the new collection classes and most definitely JAXP. The argument that java is a closed community is interesting, but I think erroneous. Also Stallman's article about the Java Trap doesn't seem that relevant to normal users. Sun, Oracle, IBM are all not about to fade away and the trend has been towards OpenSource tools to encourage migration from Microsoft proprietary systems. Good that GCJ exists, but better that Sun has and will continue to foster a Java programming community. Java has been and will remain a good platform for testing ideas (see the JTXA project at java.net, Proactive Java Grid) and as a source of excellent usable free software as good as C/C++. And I see this as an issue of quality and not just quantity. The projects on apache are worth all of msdn. Commentors seem to overlook the fact that C projects have dependencies too that while may not need licensed software to solve but require a tremendous effort in time (and even then). This is less true with java especially with tools like ant and maven there to lean on. So I'll look into GCJ and IKVM again, but the language is Java 1.5.0
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