Developer Week in Review

Apple deprecates, Microsoft assassinates, Adobe infiltrates, and Linux obfuscates.

Here’s what recently caught my attention on the developer front:

Fresh Linux, get yer fresh hot Linux!

Disciples of the Penguin rejoiced last week as Uncle Linus released a new turn of the Linux kernel — 2.6.36 to be precise. This release includes support for the Tilera processor architecture, the fanotify filesystem notification interface, Concurrency-managed workqueues, CIFS local caching and … okay, I can’t take it. Wading through Linux kernel release notes is like reading scientific papers written about exceedingly obscure disciplines. I’ve been in the industry for 30-plus years and I’ve used Linux for at least half that span, and I can’t figure out what most of the new features are without 10 minutes of research per item.

Memo to the Linux Foundation: Hire someone to write sexier announcements. Maybe Tom Clancy: “Ryan looked at the display in desperation, watching the new kernel download. He needed the new Out of Memory Killer to take out the process jamming the US ICBM defenses before the terrorists seized control of the missiles.”

Deprecated, but not forgotten …

Lost in the hubbub around Apple’s big “Back to the Mac” event was the quiet deprecation of both Java and Flash from the OS X base install. Deprecation basically means that neither package will be delivered as part of the installation DVDs, and updates will not come via the Apple update mechanisms. It doesn’t mean they won’t be available anymore, it just means you’ll have to download them directly from Oracle and Adobe.

The espoused reason for the deprecation is that it’s too hard to keep the versions of Java and Flash up to date, and in point of fact, Apple has been notorious for shipping relatively ancient versions of Java. Of course, the assumed actual reason it was done is that if they aren’t official parts of the platform, you can’t sell Flash and Java apps in the newly announced Mac App Store. That creaking sound you hear is the Mac Store’s door closing to anything but an Objective-C-based app. Although I suppose you can still sell Perl or Python-based apps, since they ship with the OS.

It’s a good guess that Adobe will continue to support Flash for the Mac, since so many folks use the Creative Suite products on OS X. The big question is, will Oracle provide aggressive support of Java on the Mac?

Fresh AIR

Arguing over whether you should program for iOS, Android or Linux tablets is a great way to spend an evening at a bar. But Adobe, with the release of AIR 2.5, offers a reminder that there is another way.

AIR, which provides a browser-less way to run Flash and Flex applications directly on the desktop, lets developers avoid the whole “locked into a platform” problem. AIR will run on all the major tablet and handheld technologies. Well … all of them except Apple’s.

Going … going … gone!

Remember how Microsoft was going to kill Windows XP once Vista was out? And then they were going to kill it after Windows 7 came out? But like a serial killer in a horror film, XP kept rising from the grave, fueled in its undead existence by the scores of enterprise customers who clung to it for dear life.

This week, Microsoft really, truly killed XP. As of October 22, OEMs and vendors can no longer sell a PC with XP preinstalled. After nine years, the reign of XP has finally come to an end, buried and forever to rest in peace.

What’s that you say? You’ll still be able to get XP if you buy a copy of Vista or Windows 7 with it? Nonsense, I told you, it’s dead! Dead and gone.

Hmm … what’s that at the door?

That’s it for this week. Suggestions are always welcome, so please send tips or news here.

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topic: Programming

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