I built Jikes RVM with its optimizing compiler and adaptive system last night, using entirely free tools. Hooray, another milestone. I use a two-stage build process; Kaffe OpenVM makes a Jikes RVM BaseBase* build (one with the baseline compiler only). Then we make an *Adaptive* build using the just-built BaseBase Jikes RVM to expand the templates and using Kaffe to do the Host VM's other work.
I've already merged the code to make optimizing builds into the CVS trunk, including what I hope is full documentation on the process. (I would like to get feedback on the documentation.)
We plan to cut the 2.3.2 release, including these features, next week. (We missed cutting the release last week, due to server trouble.)
There are several next steps. One of them is to add the free builds to the current Jikes RVM nightly regression test suite. Another is to adapt that regression test suite so that it can be run by a remote developer who doesn't have any of the unfree benchmarks (SPECjbb, etc.), and to further adapt it so that it doesn't require you to have all of the the free benchmarks installed. My goal is to let anyone build Jikes RVM using free tools and immediately run regression tests against the just-built VM.
Once the free builds pass all the tests consistently, I hope to work with Debian or another distribution so that we can ship a free working JDK and JRE that use Jikes RVM; SuSE Linux has included a kaffe package for years (at least since SuSE 6.1, which I installed in May of 1999).