What can you not do on the Dalvik VM (Android's VM) that you can in Sun VM?


Java Problem Overview

I know that you can run almost all Java in Dalvik's VM that you can in Java's VM but the limitations are not very clear. Has anyone run into any major stumbling blocks? Any major libraries having trouble? Any languages that compile to Java byte code (Scala, Jython etc...) not work as expected?

Java Solutions

Solution 1 - Java

There is a number of things that Dalvik will not handle or will not handle quite the same way as standard Java bytecode, though most of them are quite advanced.

The most severe example is runtime bytecode generation and custom class loading. Let's say you would like to create some bytecode and then use classloader to load it for you, if that trick works on your normal machine, it is guaranteed to not work on Dalvik, unless you change your bytecode generation.

That prevents you from using certain dependency injection frameworks, most known example being Google Guice (though I am sure some people work on that). On the other hand AspectJ should work as it uses bytecode instrumentation as a compilation step (though I don't know if anyone tried).

As to other jvm languages -- anything that in the end compiles to standard bytecode and does not use bytecode instrumentation at runtime can be converted to Dalvik and should work. I know people did run Jython on Android and it worked ok.

Other thing to be aware of is that there is no just in time compilation. This is not strictly Dalviks problem (you can always compile any bytecode on the fly if you wish) but that Android does not support that and is unlikely to do so. In the effect while microbenchmarking for standard Java was useless -- components had different runtime characterstics in tests than as parts of larger systems -- microbenchmarks for Android phones totally make sense.

Solution 2 - Java

If you see "Dalvik Virtual Machine internals" Google IO session, you can find Dalvik does not support generational GC.

So, it could degrade performance of frequent object creation and deletion. Java VM supports generational GC so, it would show better GC performance for the same situation.

And also, Dalvik uses trace-granuality JIT instead of method granuality JIT.

Solution 3 - Java

Another thing that I guess could be added here is that Dalvik apparently does not preserve field order when listing the fields of a class using the reflection API. Now, the reflection API does not make any guarantees on it anyway (so ideally you shouldn't depend on it anyway), but most of the other VMs out there do preserve the order.

Solution 4 - Java

Just to add to the conversation, not intended to revive an old thread. I just ran across this in my search, and want to add that Jython does not work out of the box with Dalvik either. Simply trying to do a hello world example will yield the following:


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Solution 1 - JavaMarcinView Answer on Stackoverflow
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Solution 4 - JavaSean WalshView Answer on Stackoverflow