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 Post subject: The Java Conundrum
PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 1:18 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 5:01 pm
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Location: Boston, MA, USA
I've made it a personal goal to keep my BLAG systems (two desktops and a laptop) free of non-free software. For the most part this hasn't presented too many challenges: I use GIMP instead of PhotoShop, Bluefish instead of DreamWeaver, etc., and don't feel that I've lost any functionality. My last two workplaces, however, have both migrated their remote access solutions away from traditional VPN clients (where VPNC worked just fine) to client-less products like those from Juniper Networks. Instead of a client program, one points a browser to a corporate URL and uses the libjavaplugin_oji.so plugin to activate the VPN tunnel via a Java applet. The problem is that this plugin doesn't exist in free Java (java-1.7.0-icedtea and its corresponding plugin).

So there are two paths to follow here: my preference would be to use BLAG and free Java, but I'd need to find a free version of the plugin. So far I've been unsuccessful in doing so. The second - which I've been doing in the interim - is to use either Windoze or a non-free-ridden Linux distro (e.g. Mint) when remote access is required. If there's a third possiblity - or other ideas I've somehow neglected - I'd love to hear them.

Thanks!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 1:21 pm 
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You "should" be able to use the free java plugin with their java applet. Or at least you can try it. I think there's docs on getting the java plugin going in the Fedora release notes.

-Jeff


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 1:54 pm 
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jebba wrote:
You "should" be able to use the free java plugin with their java applet. Or at least you can try it. I think there's docs on getting the java plugin going in the Fedora release notes.

-Jeff


I'll need to do a little more research. My observations have been based on this article, which makes use of the Sun (non-free) JRE and plugin.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 3:37 pm 
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After years of moving towards free software, my company took a hard turn towards windows tech. So now I just RDP to a windows box at work and do all my work through that while leaving my blag boxes pure.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 5:21 pm 
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it looks like the icedtea plugin package installs gcjwebplugin.so, but not libjavaplugin_oji.so, which is what Juniper seems to need.

Code:
[root@blagger tmp]# rpm -q java-1.7.0-icedtea-plugin-1.7.0.0-0.19.b21.snapshot.fc8 --provides
gcjwebplugin.so
java-1.7.0-plugin = 1.7.0.0
java-plugin = 1.7.0
java-1.7.0-icedtea-plugin = 1.7.0.0-0.19.b21.snapshot.fc8


I've tried pinging the Fedora forum about the availability of the plugin in icedtea, but so far no go. I probably need to look elsewhere.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 5:50 pm 
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Well it probably "needs libjavaplugin_oji.so" in that they are saying it "needs a java plugin for your browser" and this plugin is typically named (from Sun) as libjavaplugin_oji.so. The gcjwebplugin.so should be functionally equivalent (well, more or less). So just use that, make sure Java is enabled in Preferences, and try loading the page with the java applet.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:38 pm 
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I tried faking out Java by linking libjavaplugin_oji.so to gcbwebplugin.so, but that didn't work. It doesn't throw an error, but the applet is never initialized. I posted my issue to the "distro-pkg-dev" mailing list and was told to uninstall icedtea 1.7 in favor of openjdk 1.6. Unfortunately the latter requires an updated libc, so it seems I'm stuck for now. :^(


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:36 pm 
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so here's the conundrum in a nutshell - if a fully functional Java is necessary for me to have remote access to my workplace, do I:
    1) continue to lug a Windoze laptop back and forth for the sole purpose of remote access,
    2) maintain a non-free Linux distro for the sole purpose of remote access, or
    3) taint my favorite distro (BLAG, of course) with non-free Java?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:45 pm 
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When you just install java-1.7.0-icedtea-plugin normally and don't do any tricks, does it show up ok when you go to the URL "about:plugins" ?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:59 am 
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jebba wrote:
When you just install java-1.7.0-icedtea-plugin normally and don't do any tricks, does it show up ok when you go to the URL "about:plugins" ?


yes it does. The plugin is there, and it does do many of the things an applet should do (e.g. I can "watch" Boston Red Sox games at work), but there are some pages that aren't rendered correctly. A few examples are http://www.pandora.com/, which should initiate a Java-based music player (instead of a mysterious gray rectangle), and http://www.allmusic.com, which routinely crashes Firefox. More importantly than either of these, my workplace's "extranet" page includes a link to Juniper Network's client-less VPN, which is implemented as an applet. An applet-like window appears to download the software to the browser, but the Firefox status bar indicates that the Applet is not started. :^(


Last edited by extraspecialbitter on Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:09 pm 
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I have found a lot of VPN client apps suck, when my work switched from standard PPTP to Sonicwall, I couldn't get the windows box connected for a while. It works sometimes now, but now I just go in through other things we have setup. I'd suggest keep using the work laptop, It's often better to segregate work and non work.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:36 pm 
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As a compromise I've been keeping the laptop at work and booting up Mint (encumbered with Java, Flash, etc.) at home when I need to access the VPN. Despite the fact that it serves this necessary purpose, I don't like it nearly as much as BLAG. Hopefully openjdk will eventually deliver full Java functionality without proprietary blobs so that I can avoid having to boot a different distro - or far worse, Windoze - in order to get my work done.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 12:26 pm 
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Funny enough I was thinking about this situation on my way home. It seems to me that it might be more ethical to install OpenJDK on BLAG, since it is enabling you to use more Free software, than if you are in mint, which once you are booted there you have to stay there. Especially considering OpenJDK is a project actively working to replace it's slaveware bits with FOSS and that by using the OpenJDK you are helping test to the newest FOSS bits. Doesn't seem to me any worse than someone using the broadcom firmware with the open source driver.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 8:08 pm 
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I've moved this topic to the Slaveware forum, as I feel that my employers (and others like them) have enslaved me to be dependent upon non-free Java in order to use their client-less VPN. It's forced me to have a non-free-tolerant distro (Linux Mint in this case) on my laptop with the express purpose of remote access.

In parallel, I am working with the OpenJDK people to see if the gcjwebplugin.so plugin can ultimately get me where I need to be.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 8:12 pm 
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extraspecialbitter wrote:
In parallel, I am working with the OpenJDK people to see if the gcjwebplugin.so plugin can ultimately get me where I need to be.


Ah cool, nice one. :)


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