64 bit Linux, flash, and firefox ETA?

Bryan Sant bryan.sant at gmail.com
Wed Apr 23 15:31:44 MDT 2008

On Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 11:17 AM, Andrew Jorgensen
<andrew.jorgensen at gmail.com> wrote:
>  It's a DOM-based graphics model that can even be accessed from outside
>  plugin (javascript) or be generated dynamically by any web service.

That's cool.  Flex (the flash-based RIA platform from Adobe) does
allow transparent access from flex to javascript functions, and
vice-versa.  However, the app is not served up as DOM XML; Flex
expects a pre-created .swf file to come from the server.  However,
they do supply an apache module that compiles your .mxml files into
.swf files on-the-fly on the server.  Not the same as in-browser
modification, but probably nearly as useful(?).  JavaFX is in the same
boat as Flex.  The applet has to be pre-generated on the server.

>  You can program for it in any .NET-supported language (yeah, probably
>  even fortran if you're into that).  That's SL 2.0 profile only, the
>  1.0 profile is javascript-only.

Flex is limited to ActionScript 3 (which is Adobe's implementation of
ECMAScript 4 -- aka JavaScript 2), but due to the wide use of
JavaScript, I don't think that this one language only limit is an
issue for most developers.

JavaFX and the soon-to-be-released Java 6u10 plugin (which makes the
JVM load fast and Java applets not suck) can access any Java class.
So you can use any langauge that runs on the JVM (which exceeds the
number of languages that can run on the CLR).  Ruby, Python, JavaFX
Script, BeanShell, Groovy, Scala, Scheme, etc.

>  Mono is orders of magnitude faster than JavaScript.  Tamarin may help
>  that some.   There's this cool Silverlight demo where you can play the
>  same chess algorithm against itself, one in JS and the other in .NET.
>  .NET is around 100 times faster (and always wins).  I'm sure there are
>  many factors involved there but it's enough of a difference to impress
>  anyway.

I'm not sure how fast Tamarin is compared to any given JavaScript
engine in a browser.  However, here is a post from some guy who
benchmarked Tamarin against the Java 6 JVM.  His test has Java running
25 times faster than Tamarin.

Java 6 (and thus JavaFX) is faster than .NET and even C/C++ (in many
cases).  My guess is that the spread is even wider between the Linux
JVM and Mono, though I haven't done any benchmarking with the latest
releases of each recently.

>  Early adopters have reported things like that they were able to
>  re-implement their flash apps that took a year to develop in a week or
>  so.

The company that produced MusicPinBoard claim that they created the
entire app in 8 days with JavaFX.  There isn't a point of reference to
Flash or Silverlight, but impressive nonetheless.

>  Novell will provide Moonlight plugins for FF2 and FF3 that will be
>  compatible with supported versions (meaning not end-of-life) of major
>  linux distributions (Fedora, Ubuntu, [open]SuSE, probably RedHat) on
>  i586 and x86_64.

A big limitation of the new Java plugin is that Sun is only producing
it for FF3.  They expect the community to create a backport for FF2.

>  Mono is deemed a risky technology primarily by people who are
>  emotionally invested in hating Microsoft.  MS has an interest in the
>  dominance of .NET on any operating system.  They are learning to
>  accept that Linux is not going away.

Hypothetically speaking, do you think that MS would stand idle while a
Mono/Moonlight powered world eventually starts to tip the desktop
market towards Linux?  I don't think there's any risk when using Mono
right now.  I agree that MS wants .NET everywhere...  Right now.
However, personally, I do worry that future popularity of Linux may
eat into MS market share and that's when they'll show their teeth.

However, to quantify my fears, I do think that tying ones self to
Flash/Flex is probably more risky that using Moonlight.  Java/JavaFX
would be infinitely less risky as both the JVM and JavaFX are open
source projects... That is if the Java 6u10 plugin and JavaFX lives up
to the hype.

>  That's my take on it.  As stated above my comments don't necessarily
>  reflect the position of my employer.  This post ended up being a lot
>  longer than I meant it to be.  I hope it's not taken as inflammatory.

Thanks for sharing some of these Moonlight details.  I do think the
project is very interesting and potentially a runaway success.
However, right now Flex 2 owns about 80% of the RIA market share and
Flash Player is installed on 98% of all computers (more ubiquitous
than Windows or IE), while JavaFX is open, free, has good open source
dev tools, and no one company controls its fate.  Moonlight seems like
it's somewhere in the middle.


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