Flash and Java: the end of obsolete technologies

Already for a long time, I am a total opponent of Flash and things are clearly not improving. Quite on the contrary: Flash is still unstable on my systems, often not working correctly or causing browser hangs and it has many serious security flaws, which are fixed rather slowly by Adobe.

Another piece of technology which is annoying is Java. Java is a serious memory hog, does not integrate very well in Linux distributions (no centralized package management system for the gazillion of Java libraries and frameworks), and Java’s new owner, Oracle, is trying to make Java a patent minefield by suing Google.

Recently, Oracle also decided to publish a paying version of the Java Virtual Machine, and it has also doubled prices for MySQL support.

In the meantime, OpenOffice.org, also in hands of Oracle now, has been forked to LibreOffice. Third-party contributors were dissatisfied with Sun/Oracle’s bureaucracy which was a serious limitation for external contributions. It seems that Sun/Oracle’s behaviour to keep total control of OpenOffice.org is now having the total opposite effect: LibreOffice is gaining wide support by many Linux distributors, which will quickly make OpenOffice.org totally irrelevant.

ironically Apple, another company which I dislike about their anti-competitive behaviour, has become an ally by refusing to install Flash on the iPhone and iPad and by deprecating Java support, which makes it likely that Java will not be included in future OS X versions.

As GNOME developer Colin Walters recently stated on his blog: enough is enough! I am regularly installing computers for other users. From now on:

  • I will install Flasblock browser extensions by default, to help protecting against malicious Flash animations and to send out a signal to web developers that they should stop using Flash.
  • I will not install any Java Runtime Environment or Java Development Kit by default, except if explicitly requested by the user.
  • Instead of OpenOffice.org I will install LibreOffice on all Windows and Mac systems I install. For Linux I will keep the default office suite installed by the distribution, but this will also be LibreOffice in about 6 months when all major Linux distributors have published a new release.
  • I will try to use PostgreSQL instead of MySQL for web applications. Currently I already installed a LimeSurvey instance and a MediaWiki instance with PostgreSQL instead of the more common MySQL and moved a Roundcube instance from MySQL to Postgresql. I expect to install a Drupal 7 instance on PostgreSQL in the future.

As users, we have a lot of power to show companies that we do not accept their behaviour. Let’s use that power now!

Anti-competitive behaviour

Finally Microsoft lost the appeal against the ruling of the European Commission. I heard an analyst say on the radio here that this would be bad for customers: users would receive an OS without multimedia player now, and would have to search for such a basic application themselves. Not so knowledgeable people, would even pay for such software. It’s unbelievable that people who don’t even know what this case is about, are being considered as “experts”. Microsoft is still allowed to sell the version with media player, and actually as history has proven already, almost nobody will be interested in distributing the OS without the media player. The most important thing of this ruling (and always ignored in popular media), is that Microsoft is forced now to publish “interoperability information”, which can be used by for example the Samba team, to better implement things like Active Directory support. This is what matters in this ruling! For those people who think that Europe is only trying to bully a successful foreign commercial company, please read the whole ruling. As you’ll see, this was not a light decision. See paragraphs 807-809 for the decisions related to the interoperability information.

Speaking of anti-competitive behaviour, Apple currently is not much better than Microsoft. The new iPOD generation, protects its internal database with a hash, making it impossible to play any files uploaded with programs other than iTunes. All other alternatives cannot be used anymore, and because iTunes only exists for Windows and Mac OS X, Linux users are completely locked out. A few days later, the hash was already cracked, so this proves once again that all this DRM-alike stuff is not working at all, and just annoying users. Actually this is not the first time Apple is trying to block its competitors. It already has done something similar with the DAAP protocol in the past, also locking out all non-iTunes users. Hello Europe, will you continue accepting this?

If anybody knows of a good alternative for the iPOD, supporting Ogg Vorbis and having a capacity of at least 20 GB, I would like to hear about it. And don’t answer Cowon’s iAUDIO. Owning an iAUDIO M3 for a bit more than 3 years, I know that this player has a very serious hardware design flaw, actually making the whole device almost unusable in the end, and technical support in Europe is almost non-existent. So no more Cowon for me anymore…