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Chewi
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Joined: 01 Sep 2003
Posts: 875
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:59 pm    Post subject: Goodbye Java on ppc Reply with quote

This was posted to the mailing lists on Saturday. It was suggested that I post it here too. Since there hasn't been any outcry so far, it is likely I will go ahead with it at the weekend.

Dear all PowerPC users,

I'm mulling over the idea of dropping Java on 32-bit ppc. Having personally used Gentoo on this hardware myself in the past, I've resisted the temptation to drop it sooner but I think it's time to throw in the towel now.

In actuality, it's ppc64 that's given me the most hassle but I don't want to drop that as it still has a future, be it big endian or little endian. Dropping ppc32 will allow me to spend more time on ppc64, where I think it really matters, so I'm seeing this as a positive step.

ppc32 is the only arch we still support without a proper HotSpot port. For Java 7, this leaves you with four options.
    1. icedtea with CACAO. Quite fast, less compatible, sometimes buggy.
    2. icedtea with JamVM. Quite slow, less compatible, currently broken.
    3. icedtea with the "zero" HotSpot variant. Compatible but REALLY SLOW.
    4. IBM proprietary JVM. Quite fast, quite compatible, registration wall.

#1 has long been the default and that's what icedtea-bin uses but that is currently not and may never be an option for icedtea 3 (Java 8 ). This is partly because CACAO isn't very actively maintained further upstream.

Upstream icedtea, who are largely sponsored by Red Hat, have told me that they're no longer spending any time on ppc32 because Fedora has dropped support for it entirely. This means that Gentoo and Debian will be the first to hit any issues, which is pretty rough.

IBM's is probably the best of the bunch but the registration wall is even more annoying than Oracle's restricted downloads. This is partly why no one has ever bothered to keep the version in the tree up to date. Bumping Oracle's is painful enough. I also told myself that I wouldn't support any architecture based solely around a proprietary JVM and I'm sticking by that.

At the end of the day, it's not the JVM that's the biggest time sink but testing the various Java packages on yet another architecture. For thorough testing, you can multiply that by the number of major versions of each JVM as well! If Gentoo can limit itself purely to HotSpot then you can then at least be reasonably sure that a successful build on one architecture should also work on the others. Both CACAO and IBM muddy that situation.

The straw that broke the camel's back on this occasion was a race condition occurring in ECJ while building gnu-classpath under icedtea. It appears to be yet another issue with CACAO. Race conditions are a bitch and I just don't have the energy to track this one down any further. I could just drop keywords around gnu-classpath or deal with it some other way but this issue lowers my confidence in CACAO as a whole.

So please let me know if you have been using Java on this platform. I did wonder whether we had any users at all but one has spoken up in #gentoo-powerpc. I told them that they could manually download IBM's JVM to run their single application jar and they were happy with that. If that's all you need Java for then I hope you will find that satisfactory. I could be persuaded to keep the ~ppc keyword in icedtea but you'll need to speak up now. I won't be keeping keywords in the Java virtuals as that would imply a level of support that isn't really there.

There are some packages that aren't typically associated with Java that will be affected by this. Here is the list of casualties. Other than some fairly obvious ones like Vuze and Tomcat, there aren't really any packages that I would consider majorly important being dropped. mysql-workbench is in the list but the latest ebuild has been adjusted to not depend on Java.

Regards,
Chewi
Gentoo Java lead
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turtles
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Joined: 31 Dec 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2016 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would be happy to do the testing if it makes sense to keep it.
I have been using old ppc motherboards for headless stuff, converting old imac's to servers.
the main ebuilds I end up with are simple stuff like
apache postgresql php perl python ruby cups hplip
However I believe I dont require java as
Code:
eix icedtea -I
gives me nothing right now.

If I did need java I am not opposed to using item 4.
Quote:
4. IBM proprietary JVM. Quite fast, quite compatible, registration wall.


cheers
turtle
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Chewi
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Joined: 01 Sep 2003
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Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

PostPosted: Sat Jan 16, 2016 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the offer but what I really meant was dealing with CACAO issues (such as test failures) when they crop up. It's not a lack of hardware as we have access to Gentoo's timberdoodle server.

Support has now been dropped in any case as no one besides that one user on IRC actually spoke up to say they use Java. That's allowed me to proceed with a fairly clear conscience. :)
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