It’s the End of the Line for Java on the Mac

| Particle Debris

While Java remains an important tool for the Enterprise, its fate on the personal computer for home users is all but sealed.


There was a time, when Macs were competing tooth and nail against PCs when software developers, enammored by the Mac but aware of the business prospects in the PC world, wanted an elegant, cross-platform system so that their apps would run anywhere -- Linux too. That saves a lot of time and makes more money.

In the early days of OS X, Objective-C hadn't really taken off. Young people were being advised, in college, to learn a serious language, Java, not an obscure language like Objective-C -- for which almost no programming books were available. (I wrote some of those articles.)

Then an interesting thing happened. Objective-C turned out to be just the right language for mobile devices and struck it rich in iOS. Now, there are 700,000+ apps available for iOS, and it won't be long before there's a million. Meanwhile, the PC is fading fast. There's no compelling need anymore for a cross-platform development system.

Perhaps because of that drift, not enough attention was paid to Java security. Java has been so wildy popular in business, in a much more controlled environment, that no one paid much attention to Java on the desktop and browser plug-ins. But Apple did, and stopped installing it starting with Lion.

Java is dead for the average home and small business user, even as it soars in the enterprise on Linux. It's high time Apple supplied an uninstaller package that can fully eradicate Java from every Mac. Only users who really know they need it and why should have it running on their Macs. If you don't believe that, check the latest horror stories below.

Tech News Debris

After you toss around a technical acronym long enough, familiarity may lead you into thinking that you understand that technology. Worse, things can get really complicated in some fields. That's why I really like this article. It delves in the alphabet soup of wireless technologies and makes it all a lot more clear. I highly recommend: "GSM, CDMA and LTE: A Guide to Mobile Network Standards."

Java has been a bit of a pain lately. If you want to know more, I recommend: "Researchers link latest Java zero-day exploit to Bit9 hack," and "Thanks, Oracle: New Java malware protection undone by old-school attack." With luck, I've tried to clear up some of the details related in a how-to: "Uninstall or Disable Java on a Mac."

You'd think that any product with "HDMI" in its title would be rated for 1080p, right? This title tells it all. "Apple’s Lightning-to-HDMI adapter can’t mirror the iPad mini’s display at 1080p."

I don't know why some people have so much trouble with the idea that one should be careful about splashing a lot of personal information around. We know that it will be used in remarkable. imaginative and alarming new ways. (See last week's Particle Debris.) Perhaps it's a failure of imagination. And in that light, here's some interesting reading about the National Security Letters: "Google begins offering vague estimates on secret FBI surveillance."

And while I'm on the subject of Facebook, I'm pleased to point out that even the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called this method "How To Opt Out of Receiving Facebook Ads Based on Your Real-Life Shopping Activity" Kafkaesque in its tweet.

I love this story. It's another in a series of articles I've seen throughout the years that spells out the failure of the Linux community to come together to create a great user experience. This one is a good read also. "How I ended up with Mac."

Here's another fabulous read. It's a Letter from Steve Wozniak to a high school student in Korea. It has some amazingly good advice from Mr. Wozniak: "First, I came to the conclusion that I would rather be an average person joking all the time than a powerful businessman stressing over work every day. . Plus, "I also decided that I did not have to convince others of my views for those views to be good. They only needed to be good to me. I didn’t have to argue and win points. Arguments rarely have ‘winners’ anyway." . The letter is full of terrific advice to any young person just starting out on a career. A must read.

For various reasons, many users are still using OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard -- even though the percentage is fading. So when one does make the jump to Mountain Lion, it's nice to have a handy introduction to the ins and outs. Chris Breen has written just such an article: "When you finally move to Mountain Lion."

A lot has been written about devices for content consumption (tablets, smartphones) versus devices for content creation (Macs). Here's an author who's tried to apply some concrete metrics to the question. "Beyond Consumption vs Creation." His graph of task complexity versus task duration is helpful.

Finally, I couldn't have said this better. "The Case for a True Mac Pro Successor." (Only if you like fast cars and fast Macs.)


Digital clock via Shutterstock.

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Lee Dronick

These days I am only needing Java to run Creative Suite.


Link to Chris Breen’s article is goofed. Here’s the proper link:

John Martellaro

Hagen: Fixed.  Thanks!


I stil use CyberDuck which requires Java.

Is there an open source /free ftp client that’s as easy to use as CyberDuck which doesn’t require Java ?


“…enammored by the Mac”?



My kid uses Java everyday on his Mac.  Minecraft.  He plays it.  He runs a server.  Without Java on the Mac, thousands of kids will have to change platforms. 

Yes, it is that important for the 8-15 year old set.


I beg to disagree. The JVM is the focal point for many languages, which all need it in order to run. If java were to disappear, then you’d be back to the 90s writing for either windows or mac, with no option for crossover or grabbing market share.

Various languages try to make some things easy, but then other things get harder. For example algorithmic trading is almost all done in native c, or java because those languages offer pure speed.

If you want to really leverage computing speed, then its down to the underlying operating system the code actually runs on. So, that leaves 3 choices: Microsoft Windows, Mac, or Linux. Er, I believe google use linux, and java for that matter.

Modern languages are less type safe, which has arguments for and against.

The fact is, that Java is all over the place, and will remain so for some time.
By getting rid of Java, will just confirm to serious developers that mac is just about graphics and art, nothing too serious, and they will just lose market share.

Finally, the real trend amongst professional developers, is toward open source. Why would you pay for something - like Microsoft Word when you can get it for free (Open office). Or, even google wrote one in a browser which is also free.

Java is the best candidate for a mature language, which is open source, and can run on the fastest operating systems available.

Until something better comes along.

Wilfred Hildonen

Meanwhile, back in Norway, 90 % of internet banks use Java. All this fuss about Java on the Mac, has already caused a lot of problems for Norwegian Mac-users and especially for those new to the platform, of course.
It is only a population of 5 million, but as it is one of the richest - if not the richest - countries in the world, I guess it is a valuable market, anyhow. If people can’t use their Macs to log in and use their internet banks, well, I guess they will be quite disappointed. In addtion to this, the Norwegian government also use Java for their sites.
I know, it is the fault of the banks and the government, relying on such an obsolete and insecure technology, but end users should be left to suffer, methinks.

Wilfred Hildonen

Should NOT be left to suffer…


Due to the recent rash of Java exploits I switched the enable Java checkbox to off in my browser.  I can easily turn it back on if I go to a site that needs it, but as far as I know there aren’t any I frequent that do.

But when it comes to running it outside of the browser there’s no risk unless I download a Trojan, in which case any language would be just as bad.  So I keep Java installed and sincerely hope Apple doesn’t make it even harder than it is to install Java.

Huh, I didn’t even know CyberDuck was made in Java. But that’s another program I’d be sad to lose.  (Minecraft and a collection of my own programs are the ones I thought of first.)


Just a little note -> Java is on every Android phone out there and I guess that is much more than anything from Apple. So every sane developer doing the math will not take any advice from mislead articles like this.


There is a long list of important Java applications I run on my Mac for my work (bioinformatics).  The developers of these applications use Java so they can distribute their apps to Linux, OSX, and Windoze users.  If java goes away on the Mac, the Mac will be useless to science.

Most of the bioinformatics tools I use are written in languages that allows them to run on Linux and OSX.  That means Java, Python, Perl, etc.  I have written Objective C apps, so I like Objective C, but they can’t be run on Linux, which severely limits them for my field.

Java may be dead for the average home user, but not for scientists.

Java in the browser is another thing entirely, and most of these “Java is dead!” articles don’t properly distinguish between standalone Java applications and Java applets.  Many even confuse Java and Javascript.
I disabled Java in Safara and Firefox and did not notice a single problem.  If I disable the JRE, though,  I might as well throw my Mac Pro in the trash, or simply run Linux or (!) Windows on it.

John Martellaro

Coward: As I said ...

While Java remains an important tool for the Enterprise, its fate on the personal computer for home users is all but sealed.

I include science & engineering in the Enterprise.

Java may be dead for the average home user, but not for scientists.

I agree. Absolutely. I spent a good part of my career at Apple promoting Java for science.



Thanks for the site, davidneale. Handy site for the language interested and for teacher, parents as well.

Jacob Goodson

Java is not dead.  I have no emotional involvement in my comment, it is simple data extrapolation.  Java(well, specifically the JVM) will continue to thrive long after this article becomes a distant, irrelevant memory.  The proliferation of the jvm on home/office computers is so pervasive, so complete, that it would take years for the jvm to “die”.  Let us make a bet(I do like probability and statistical inference), I will bet the jvm ecosystem will still be healthy in a decade from now, while Apple will be declining.

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