SarynPaint: a Java program packaged for the OLPC

Jim Gettys jg at
Mon Aug 31 11:26:03 EDT 2009

Early in OLPC, we seriously wanted to go with Java: but Sun's licensing 
was a serious issue we could not get around, despite a number of 
attempts by Walter to talk with Sun and see if it could get fixed.

Part of the issue caused by this licensing was the "all or nothing" part 
of it: as shipped, the "tar-ball-from-hell" footprint of Sun's distro: 
60MB was a lot too much, along with the memory consumption feared (but 
Python has proved to be similarly problematic).

And at the time, the non-Sun implementations weren't mature enough.

Both the licensing and implementations issues now seem pretty moot.

So again, part of why Java is not ubiquitous to this day has been its 
license history....  Whether it, at this late date, can ever recover 
from the damage done by this history, is far from clear.
                                 - Jim

Tomeu Vizoso wrote:
> On Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 16:56, Jeffrey Kesselman<jeffpk at> wrote:
>> Honestly,  I think the lack of Java on the XO has more with python
>> defensiveness then anything else.
> Honestly, I don't think so. Most or all of the Sugar developers had
> zero python experience when joined the project. And we are way too
> busy to care about language wars.
>> I draw this conclusion partly from the fact that it has been pretty
>> crippling lack since initial inception of the XO, but one that there is
>> great resistance to fixing nonetheless.
> The Sugar platform is composed by what deployers want to be there, not
> by what each developer would like. If that was the case, we would have
> to ship the runtimes for all available languages and the XO doesn't
> have enough room for that, nm for the student's work...
> If you really think that Java should be there, propose to deployers of
> Sugar an activity that will bring value to their students and tell
> them to talk to us.
> Regards,
> Tomeu
>> On Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 10:46 AM, Ben Wiley Sittler <bsittler at>
>> wrote:
>>> I think maintaining two parallel versions of the code in two languages
>>> would be a huge waste of effort for me, but if someone else wants to
>>> they are of course welcome to.
>>> I have neither time nor inclination to port it merely to work around
>>> the historical accident of Java not having been Open Source at the
>>> time Sugar was initially developed. Also, I think the UI of this
>>> program is actually more friendly to very young children by *not*
>>> being more Sugarized — there's no confusing Frame when they
>>> (inevitably) move the pointer to the edges of the screen, and since it
>>> doesn't (yet) have save support or text input there's really no reason
>>> for a toolbar or Journal integration. Mind you, minimal save/resume
>>> support might be nice to have on all platforms someday.
>>> On 2009-08-29, Gary C Martin <gary at> wrote:
>>>> Hi Ben,
>>>> On 29 Aug 2009, at 18:24, Ben Wiley Sittler wrote:
>>>>> I think, then, that I would rather just ship it as an activity bundle
>>>>> for "Sugar+Java or Sugar+OpenJDK", since the versioning issues (which
>>>>> OpenJDK version should I use, exactly?), licensing issues (GPLv2 &
>>>>> GPLv2+classpath-exception for OpenJDK vs. GPLv3 for SarynPaint,)
>>>>> packaging unknowns (how does one run OpenJDK from a subdirectory,
>>>>> exactly?), and bloat make bundling a JRE inside the .xo ridiculously
>>>>> impractical. I'm halfway tempted to try to subset OpenJDK for this (to
>>>>> reduce bloat), but that seems like an even bigger nightmare.
>>>> Sorry if this is a controversial comment, but would you considered
>>>> porting the code to Python? It looks like a nice starter chunk of code
>>>> for someone interested in Python and or Sugar Activities.
>>>> Regards,
>>>> --Gary
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