Unless you've been stranded on a re- mote government testing station in outermost Mongolia, you'll know that the new kid on the block is sticking around and making some serious inroads on corporate America. I am, of course, talking of Linux, and with that, welcome to the Linux Focus Issue of JDJ.
We've pulled together a number of articles that offer you a window into the world of Linux and show how you, as a Java developer, can utilize this new tool emerging on the horizon. For a number of years now Linux was not given the respect it deserved. Many large blue chips dismissed it as a hacker's toy and remained loyal to the Oracles and Suns of the world. These same blue chips are now changing their tune somewhat and beginning to explore this new contender for their IT budget. The irony of it is that their budget isn't being as hammered as it was, and I believe this is where the problem lies.
You know the old saying: "You get what you pay for." I believe this is Linux's biggest hurdle. Not that it isn't up for the job or that there isn't any standard hardware platform. It's because it's free. It goes against all known conventions and this is making the CTOs a little nervous.
We'll take you into the world of Linux through the eyes of Java developers. We have some great articles on some of the more frequently used Linux tools. With respect to the task of getting Java onto Linux and how best to configure it, the best person to ask about that sort of thing has to be the lead staff engineer at Sun who's responsible for getting Java to Linux. Calvin Austin works alongside the Blackdown.org team, which in turn was responsible for the original JDK port to Linux, to get Java 2 to Linux. Calvin has written a clear account of installing Java to Linux and the meaning behind many of the terms that Linux newbies are faced with.
As regular JDJ readers know, I've always advocated MySQL as a great alternative to other costly database servers. I'm honored to announce that we've collared Mark Matthews for a great piece on using MySQL from Java. Mark Matthews is the man responsible for allowing us access to the power of MySQL through his very popular JDBC driver. Linux is usually deployed as a server, and to this end we have an excellent piece from Murray Wilson on using the infamous Apache/JServ combination to deploy Java Servlets. Murray talks us through the installation and deployment woes you may experience with this strong application server.
If you're going to throw down your MS Windows and move to a Linux desktop, then allow Ben Okopnik to talk you through some of the hurdles you may face. Ben runs through some of the procedures you need to do to make your desktop Java development- friendly.
Linux is penetrating many of the large software vendors and we're now seeing the likes of Oracle and even Sun offering Linux alternatives to their main flagship products. Ceri Moran has put together an excellent article detailing many of these offerings. It may surprise you to learn just who is doing what. Linux isn't a fad, nor is it a flash-in-the-pan technology. It's here to stay, and, given that, learning a little more about what it may be able to do for you is never a bad thing. Linux does suffer from the Apple-devotee syndrome. That is, you do get the odd Linux fanatic that can put you off the whole experience. These people are best avoided and kept in the dark server room where they belong. They're happy there.
Don't take anyone's word for it; discover it for yourself. It's free, after all, so the only thing you're really going to lose is time. So, please enjoy what we've pulled together for you here in this special focus issue.
Alan Williamson is CEO of the first pure Java company in the UK, n-ary (consulting) Ltd (www.n-ary.com), a Java solutions company specializing in delivering real-world applications with real-world Java. Alan has authored two Java servlet books and contributed to the servlet API.
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