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10.1. How Java Works

Like Classic applications, compiled Java applications must run in their own environment, as they're not in a binary format native to Mac OS X. Launching a Java program also launches the Java environment program, known as a virtual machine, or VM. As its name implies, its an entirely software-based "computer" that runs within the confines of the real computer's operating system, and is capable of executing Java programs. The interpreter—the one OS-specific part of any system's Java installation—takes care of translating the running program's Java commands into Mac-friendly system calls, all on the fly.

Mac OS X uses Sun's Hotspot software as its Java VM. Its compiler comes in two "flavors." This doesn't have all the runtime optimizations that the server compiler does, but it makes up for it with a faster startup time and a smaller memory footprint.



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