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Jikes Open Source - a report from Dave Shields

Dec 11, 1998, 15:34 (4 Talkback[s])

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Jikes News: 11 December 1998

Phone call with Bruce Perens re Jikes License, Jikes Parser Generator

I was a participant in a conference call with Bruce Perens yesterday, along with an IBM manager and attorney. In the words of diplomacy, "It was a frank and open exchange". We discussed Bruce's concerns about the Jikes License and also the question first raised by the Debian group about releasing the source for the Jikes Parser Generator.

At the end of the call, Bruce said he would prepare a report on the call and submit it to slashdot. [ Link added by Linux Today - lt ed ] He graciously offered to send us a preliminary copy for our review. We declined, as we trusted his judgment. We also said we would not write our own report, lest confusion result from two reports trying to relay the same news.

Jikes Mailing Lists

I apologize for the delay in setting up the Jikes mailing lists, and I appreciate the support of slashdot and LinuxToday in posting my notes on their sites, so I could honor my pledge to have all discussions in "full public view".

I ordered a new 6 gig disk for the server machine (100 Mhz Pentium, 32MB memory) a few weeks ago. I had two 1 gig disks. A colleague suggested I should wait for new disk to arrive, as what I had might not suffice to manage the mail lists. The disk arrived yesterday morning. I had a lot of meetings that day, but did find the time to install the disk and did a fresh install of RedHat 5.2.

I've asked for some help in setting up the system. Though I've used Unix for almost two decades, I've hardly ever had the opportunity to log in as root. Indeed, I'm still such a newbie in this area that when I log in as root I still feel a rush -- it's like sitting in a Ferrari and putting the pedal to the metal. Away we go!

Unfortunately, I have proven very adept at doing a great deal of ecological damage to a pristine Linux landscape in a short time. My specialty is reducing /etc/aliases to rubble -- think of the oft-shown TV footage of an old building being demolished by a few pounds of dynamite.

I've asked for help doing things right, and hope it will arrive soon. If not, I'll steam on and promise to be more careful. I will make a best effort to be able to accept subscriptions early next week.

The Jikes Coupon

I drive my daughter Jennifer to school every morning. Ever since the start of the school year, she's been the object of a constant flood of news and concerns about releasing the Jikes source code. She has always been a rapt listener; indeed, I boasted to a friend recently that my daughter was "THE world export in open source licensing issues in the 14-and-under age category".

We both share the same birthday -- December 8. My favorite present was a set of six Jikes Coupons. Here is the text of a Jikes Coupon:

Jikes Coupon
Value: 10 Minutes

This coupon entitles David Shields to 10 free minutes of Jennifer's undivided attention to talk about Jikes or whatever he sees fit. During this time, Jennifer may not think or say in any way, "Oh, gosh, here he goes again." Even phrases such as, "We're playing with the big boys" will be tolerated with a pleasant nod and smile.

I realized that I had mistaken a pleasant node and smile for keen interest and concern. However, I have learned a valuable lesson and it forms the basis of my new policy when asked about open source licensing issues.

While I had a role in drafting the Jikes License, now that it is out it has become the responsibility of the IBM attorneys, and only they have the authority to effect changes to it. My making statements about it, especially misdirected efforts to interpret it, can only lead to confusion. So from now on, when asked to speak about these matters my response will be silent and simple -- a pleasant nod and a smile.

I have great confidence in our attorneys. I know they want to do the right thing. I have found them to be quite pleasant, and have even seen them smile from time to time.

Congratulations to Rob Malda

I know that all fellow members of the slashdot community join me in congratulating Rob Malda on completing the work for his undergraduate degree. Sengan informs me Rob is getting a B.S. in Computer Science, and also a B.A. (or perhaps minor) in the Arts. I regret that I do not know the name of his college. I know he is eager to resume hacking.

Newest Member of the Jikes Team: Vadim Zaliva

We posted the source for Jikes at 1PM EST on Monday, December 7th. I received an e-mail the same day 9:13 PM from Vadim Zaliva (lord@crocodile.org) that included a patch file. He also posted the patch in the "Discussion Area" for Jikes Source at the alphaworks site.

Philippe is on vacation, and I didn't get a chance to speak to him after we published the source until late Wednesday afternoon. He asked me if I had seen the patch at alphaworks. I said I had gotten an e-mail but hadn't had time to look at. He said he was "flabbergasted". Though the patch contains only a few lines, it shows a good understanding of much of the compiler structure. I view this as our first success story, and I am sure there are more to come; I view it as a joint tribute to Philippe's design and Vadim's demonstrated skills.

At the end of the call, we had the following exchange:

Philippe: Dave, this guy is good. Think he could come work with us?

Dave: Philippe, he already is working with us -- and for free!

I asked Philippe to report in full on the technical knowledge displayed, but he has some personal business, and I have gone ahead here, as I did not want to delay recognizing Vadim's work. We are pleased to welcome him aboard as the first contributor to join our project since we released the source (there are other contributors I wish to name for work done before we released the source, and I'll try to provide details on our web site early next week).

It's hard to express a "pleasant nod and a smile" over the internet. It's also hard to express a hand shake. My daughter Jen designed a great masthead for the Jikes web site using a masthead design tool built by Chet Murthy and others (Chet is the guy who used to do the libc5 builds -- I told him he had done his last build late last week). Unfortunately, IBM requires a uniform look-and-feel on its web pages, and I am not able to use her work, though I will put up a copy elsewhere on the Jikes web site soon, and am enclosing a copy of it along with this note, and hope that slashdot and LinuxToday can find a way to display it as a sign of welcome -- both to Vadim and to all the future contributors that I expect to meet soon via the Jikes mail lists.

dave

shields@watson.ibm.com http://www.ibm.com/research/jikes