example alternatives to java-based applications – etcher by resin.io

January 2, 2017

I’m back to finding alternatives to the use of Java. Oracle is working to increase license collections on Java big time starting this year. I loath Oracle and all things Oracle, and the fact they now own Java and have gone after licensing fees for Java means, for me, that I have come to loath Java equally. It is for this reason I’ve once again flip-flopped toward finding and using any and all alternatives to Java on every platform I work with. An excellent example of an alternative is the image burner application Etcher from resin.io.

Etcher ticks a number of key boxes for me:

  • It can safely copy a Linux image from an image file (iso, img, etc) to a USB drive or SDHC device.
  • It can work on Windows, Linux, or macOS. In this example I tested it on macOS Sierra.
  • It’s open source and available via github.
  • It’s based on Electron, using CSS, HTML, and JavaScript.
  • I can use it to copy my Raspberry Pi images to micro SDHC cards simply and reliably on my MBP.

That last bullet is what makes it a full keeper for me, as well as the tool I now point novices towards who want to work with the Raspberry Pi and want to create their own micro SDHC cards. It is absolutely as simple as starting the application, pointing it towards the image, and then plugging in the device to be flashed. Etcher finds the device automatically, making it dead simple to click the button and start the image copy to the device. No more tricky and down-right dangerous CLI dances with mount, umount, and dd.

Other Electron-based applications I now use are Atom, the editor, and Slack. There’s a whole bunch more out there, and the tooling to write even more is available where-ever there’s tooling for writing web applications. Java isn’t going to die anytime soon as it has a lock on a lot of legacy software. But that’s the same formidable block that Microsoft Windows posed back in the day, and we’ve seen where Microsoft is today, especially in mobile. Rather than complain about how bad Oracle and Java have become, my energy would be better spent promoting Electron and other foundational products and tools as better solutions than Java, even Java 8. It really is time to move on.