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From toby cabot <>
Subject [long] OSGi overview (was Re: Geronimo/Equinox integration status?)
Date Fri, 07 Jul 2006 18:39:16 GMT

Thanks for the info.

On Wed, Jul 05, 2006 at 10:06:46PM +0200, Jacek Laskowski wrote:
> On 7/5/06, toby cabot <> wrote:
> >What's the status of the Geronimo/Equinox (OSGi server) integration?
> Dunno, but great you've asked as it was one of the questions during
> the Apache Geronimo panel at TSSJS in Barcelona, which James S.
> answered positively, i.e. there's a fit for it in Geronimo and it
> should or will be soon available. I think Dain mentioned it a couple
> of times (it was something about classloading architecture or alike).

That's great to hear.  I'd be willing to help out.

> I wonder how it's different from what we've got now? How does it
> compare to XBean if at all? A short introduction would be of help.

I'm far from an OSGi expert, but let me take a swing.  Either I'll be
correct or someone will correct me, and either way we'll learn
something.  OSGi [1] is both an organization and a specification.  The
spec [2], currently at release 4 and weighing in at >260 pages,
describes what they call a "service platform" [3] which really amounts
to an application server.  It's somewhat analogous to GBeans in that
it specifies the interface between application components and the
server that runs them.  It's much smaller and less featureful than
J2EE, having been originally intended (and still used often) for
embedded systems.  The spec has been around for quite some time but
seems to be gaining a lot more mindshare recently.  Probably a big
part of that is due to the Eclipse project using OSGi technology
inside their IDE.

The basic OSGi software package is called a "bundle".  A bundle is
basically a jar file + metadata.  The metadata indicates which
"services" a bundle exports and which it depends on; this allows a
server to do automatic dependency resolution, so if you ask it to
download a particular bundle from a remote bundle server it can first
download and start all of the dependencies automatically.  There's
also a JNDI-ish "registry" within an OSGi server that allows bundles
to find services and bind to them at run-time.

So I guess you can say that a bundle is somewhere between a GBean and
a Configuration, but closer a GBean plus some additional packaging.
Within Eclipse, the things that Eclipse calls "plugins" are basically
OSGi bundles with some additional Eclipse metadata.

>From my admittedly naive perspective, I don't see huge differences
between bundles and GBeans, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were
there.  So far I've seen two integration approaches mentioned -
OSGi-centric and Geronimo-centric.  The OSGi-centric approach [4]
involves taking the various Geronimo services, repackaging them as
bundles, and running them in an OSGi server.  The Geronimo-centric
approach [5] involves building a GBean wrapper around bundles and
services, so the GBean server can manage them.  In either case I think
that having the ability to run J2EE apps *and* OSGi bundles is very

My interest in OSGi technology stems from the fact that my employer
uses Geronimo currently but is planning to also support OSGi, so my
best-case scenario is a nice integration between the two technologies.


[2] Specs are "by-request" at

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