The Mac as a Java Development and Execution Platform

By: Firoj Khan


Nobody can deny that Apple manufactures very handsome machines but there are endless debates about whether they perform better than equivalent machines running Linux or Windows.

Mac used to be very behind and took more than a year to come up with a JDK. I was hearing my friends complain that Eclipse and IDEA were running very poorly.

Java applications on Mac OS X can be supplemented with a number of exclusive runtime properties to enhance their user experience. These properties can be specified via command-line, or, in the case of a packaged '.app' Java application, they are typically specified in one of two files: MRJApp.properties, and Info. List.

Mac and Linux have real shells (a pleasure to use), Windows is a bit behind there, but the DOS console has become good enough with XP that I didn't mind it too much.

Mac has finally become a credible Java platform, but it took its sweet time (and I can't help but laugh when I remember Steve Jobs saying he wanted Mac OS to become the best Java platform five years ago...).

Apple offers the Mac OS Runtime for Java (MRJ) 2.2, which is compatible with the 1.1.8 release of Sun's JDK. A PowerPC Mac with Mac OS 8.1 or later and at least 40 MB of RAM is required to use this version of MRJ. A Just-In-Time compiler from Symantec is part of the distribution as well.

The goal of this article is to show that, considering equivalent metrics and similar system configurations, different systems can perform better than others due to a variety of factors. Garbage collection, a common cause of tuning headaches, was not optimized for these tests and might yield different results for the Java boxed objects sort. Windows XP wasn't optimized for thread performance. These tests were aimed at processor and memory performance, discarding other factors. Choosing a given configuration is an exercise in testing and choosing the appropriate metrics, not one of choosing the best brand, fastest processor, or the coolest machine.

Mac OS X provides the standard JDK command line tools for developers. Therefore, when launching an unpackaged Java application from the command line, the two required properties listed above in Table 1 should not be used, in favor of the standard command-line specification of the class path and main class.

To provide a coherent set of Java software packages for Mac, satisfying all quality requirements of other applications. To establish an efficient and robust policy for Java software installation.

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