What is Kaffe?#

  • Kaffe is a clean room implementation of the Java virtual machine, plus the associated class libraries needed to provide a Java runtime environment. The Kaffe virtual machine is free software, licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License. It is available at http://www.kaffe.org.
  • Kaffe is a great choice as a base for virtual machine education and/or research, or if you need a virtual machine as an integral component of an open source or free software Java distribution.

What is Kaffe not?#

  • Kaffe is not an officially licensed version of the Java virtual machine. In fact, it contains no Sun source code at all, and was developed without even looking at the Sun source code. It is legal -- but Sun controls the Java trademark, and has never endorsed Kaffe, so technically, Kaffe is not Java.
  • Kaffe is constantly under development, and lacks compatibility in many ways with the current releases of Java. It lacks many key features of a full Java virtual machine implementation - including security related features such as a complete bytecode verifier essential for running untrusted code.
  • Kaffe is not the best Java virtual machine for developing Java applications, as it lacks much in the way of documentation, compatibility, debugging/profiling support, etc. If you are learning Java, or are looking for a complete Java development environment, you will probably be best served by using a "real" Java development environment (such as the JDK) licensed from Sun.

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