More Java hair tearing

Another episode in the war between Apple and Java, with Mozilla/Firefox joining in. I almost wrote “The Alliance”, or maybe “The Axis Powers”. Who are the bad guys?

Late on Friday I got an email from the nice support folk at Liverpool Telescope, warning me that their Phase 2 GUI tool might stop working for me. Checking out their news item, its an issue for anybody using a Mac, and anybody using Firefox. They link to some news items here, here, and here. As usual, not only did Apple do this very suddenly, they did it WITHOUT TELLING THEIR CUSTOMERS. Stuff just stopped working.

My geekier readers will remember an earlier possibly somewhat alarmist post by moi, within the comment stream of which it became clarified that the problems concerned the Java plugin for web browsers, not regular Java Apps using the JRE.  Now the LT GUI is not an in-browser thing – its Java Webstart, which is just a fancy way of providing a link to the latest version of a Java App. Brief panic while I tried out Topcat and Aladin. If Topcat stops working I am fucked. (This is Mark Taylor’s evil plan of course). However, T&A are fine.

It seems Apple stopped any webby-Java things work using the Xprotect list, including webstart. I have no idea what Xprotect is. Alex, you now have permission to pontificate. I hear a dark rumour that if you know which plist to edit you can work round this.

Meanwhile, I have a virtual machine running Debian and the delightfully spartan Enlightenment window manager, and I can carry on loading up more PanSTARRS transients into the LT database…


Update Monday evening. Gets more confusing. The LT folk sent round an email saying that Apple had released a software patch, explained here, and available through the usual Software Update tool. However … no such update was offered to me…  After consulting a few users, it seems people 10.8 never saw a problem at all; those with 10.6 were totally blocked, but are now fixed by the patch; but those of us with 10.7 have not been offered a patch ?

Meanwhile I am playing with about eighteen different Linux window managers to see which one I like best.

7 Responses to More Java hair tearing

  1. MatthewH says:

    Isn’t it more of a battle between Oracle and Oracle Java these days? Everyone, including the US govt., has been telling them about security flaws, and recommending Java plugins should be disabled, but it seems Oracle only react once there’s a “0-day” exploit in the wild. Barn doors and horses come to mind.

  2. Glad I’m still using VMS!

    At a conference in Prague last summer I met Michael Kramer, whom I knew from my time at Jodrell Bank. Michael sat across from me at the conference dinner, and next to me was a chap who moved from academia to “industry” after he had got a permanent job at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics. He ended up working for DEC, selling ALPHAs to academia. Thus, the conversation turned to VMS. I asked Michael if VAXen were still doing the telescope control at Jodrell Bank. He said yes. Nuff said.

  3. Can I do anything except post a link to the Starlink Bulletin with the VMS episode of Captain Starlink? No, of course not. And so, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, for your entertainment, scroll down to page 7: http://starlink.jach.hawaii.edu/bulletins/n14.pdf

  4. John says:

    Apple are favouring safety over convenience, and I think that’s probably the right choice. Arguably they should provide more explicit notification of when their security system might break things, but note that it is optional: you can (I think) turn off the updates by unchecking System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Advanced > Automatically update safe downloads list.

    After you’ve disabled automatic updates, you can probably edit /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/XProtect.meta.plist to enable whatever Java plugin you like. Not tested that, though.

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