OpenJDK Support: What you need to know about support options for 2019

With the dawn of the New Year, oracle is making some major tweaks to its Java system (Oracle JDK) and Open Java Development Kit (OpenJDK). The company announced in 2018 that it would no longer be providing free OpenJDK support to JDK commercial users and would stop providing long-term support for OpenJDK binaries after January 2019.

While Oracle is looking forward to accelerating its Java development by shortening release cycles and focusing more efforts toward long-term profitability, this change has some developers concerned about the future of OpenJDK support. If you’re thinking about migrating to OpenJDK or currently using it, you might be wondering what this decision means for you. Read on to learn more about how Oracle’s announcement will impact the OpenJDK community, what challenges it presents, and what options you have in moving forward.

What Is OpenJDK Support

The Open Java Development Kit (OpenJDK) is a free, open-source implementation of the standard Oracle Java Platform (Oracle JDK) developed by Sun Microsystems in 2006. Oracle acquired the ecosystem as part of the Sun Microsystems deal in 2010. OpenJDK is licensed under the GNU General Public License version 2, with a linking exception, which has allowed its community to contribute critical components to the base JDK system. Some of its most relevant productions include the Java Class Library—a set of standard class libraries that follow the mode of modern operating systems—and Hotspot, the Java virtual machine.

Until the end of January 2019, OpenJDK implements free support from both Oracle and the open source Java community. It also has the added benefit of third-party closed and open source additions. While it began as a slower and less supported version of Oracle JDK 7, developments through the years have rendered it a powerful resource for both public and commercial users alike.

Commercial users have traditionally utilized Oracle JDK in the workplace and for enterprise usage due to its perceived stability and support. However, with little complaint from enterprises making use of OpenJDK’s open source community and functions, and Oracle’s recent announcements regarding fees for commercial users and a pull of support from the OpenJDK community, many developers are feeling undecided about their future with Oracle JDK. This makes OpenJDK a viable option for enterprise users in the coming months.

What Has Changed with OpenJDK?

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Oracle’s announcement that it will no longer provide free support for JDK commercial users after January 2019 has impacted not only Oracle JDK users but OpenJDK users as well. The company will continue to provide public updates of Oracle JDK 8 through at least December 2020 for personal users, but commercial users will have to subscribe to a paid long-term support plan and contact a commercial operator to get updates on their version. Otherwise, commercial users of Oracle JDK must use a Java/OpenJDK binary distribution from another provider to continue their releases after January 2019.

Commercial users who opt for an OpenJDK binary distribution or current OpenJDK users will have to look for alternate support as well since Oracle will no longer provide long-term support services for OpenJDK binaries. While a paid long-term support release will occur every three years for Oracle JDK, every OpenJDK release will only receive updates for six months. Security patches and bug fixes will only be contributed in source form to the latest version of the OpenJDK, leaving older versions in the hands of the Java community.
In other words, Oracle is moving from a two-year release cycle to a six-month release cycle, and each OpenJDK release will only be supported until the next one is made available. This presents a number of challenges to commercial users looking for alternate support solutions, as well as current OpenJDK users.

What Options Do OpenJDK Users Have For Support?

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Oracle’s announcement to drop free support for OpenJDK leaves users wondering where they can get comprehensive, long-term support. Jumping into Oracle’s new JDK commercial contracts would not only require a migration from OpenJDK to JDK but could prove costly in the long run – especially if companies run into software problems or compatibility issues along the way. This move could also prove detrimental to certain commercial users’ budgets, given that public updates were provided freely in the past.

If OpenJDK commercial users don’t want to migrate, they face only short-term support from Oracle. Every release of OpenJDK will only receive updates for six months, until the release of the next JDK version. Enterprises can choose to stay with their version of Java without updating it indefinitely, but this too could be a challenge to companies looking for specific updates or bug fixes addressed in future releases. It’s also important to note that older versions will have limited support with Oracle’s quicker release cycle and push for updates.

Thankfully, OpenJDK users have plenty of other options available for long-term support and implementation of their Java platform. OpenJDK providers like Red Hat have detailed instructions and tutorials on migrating from JDK to OpenJDK, and many have committed to continuing to provide free public updates throughout the duration of Oracle’s JDK release period. Most long-term support options through these providers include free releases, patches, and bug fixes, and last longer than Oracle’s updated support terms for commercial users.

These options also afford developers a great deal of control over their Java platforms and infrastructure, working with third-party support technicians and the open source Java community regularly. The benefits of this approach include being able to update your platform at your own pace, ongoing support, and cheaper overhead costs and customized, personalized solutions for your enterprise or company needs.

OpenJDK Support Options with RedHat

Red Hat has committed to providing free support for the OpenJDK 8 community until at least 2023. According to Red Hat Java Platform Lead Engineer Andrew Haley, the company is showing no signs of stopping when it comes to helping both personal and commercial users of OpenJDK in the future:

“With the help of the wider OpenJDK community and my team at Red Hat, we have continued to provide updates for critical bugs and security vulnerabilities at regular intervals. I can see no reason why this process should not work in the same way for OpenJDK 8 and the next long-term support release, OpenJDK 11.”

With Red Hat’s OpenJDK solutions, developers can breathe easy in the wake of Oracle’s massive changes to the OpenJDK platform. Red Hat OpenJDK builds have passed Oracle’s Java SE TCK version tests and also support these with Java EE implementations such as JBoss Enterprise Application Platform on OpenJDK. All major long-term support OpenJDK versions (7, 8, 11) have been supported for more than 6 years, and Red Hat regularly provides code-level patches for bug fixes. Red Hat also provides extensive instruction for those wanting to migrate from JDK to OpenJDK, making the transition as clear as possible.

If you want OpenJDK support after Oracle’s change or need to make the migration from JDK to OpenJDK, contacting a third-party support team can be invaluable. As a Red Hat Middleware Partner of the Year and third-party consulting and engineering company, Shadow-Soft can provide your company with OpenJDK support via a Red Hat subscription. Whether you’re migrating from JDK due to Oracle’s new updates, trying to avoid any unforeseeable changes to Oracle’s infrastructure in the coming years, or seeking an open source solution like Red Hat’s OpenJDK builds, our team can help.

With Oracle’s changes coming into play after January 2019, there’s no reason to delay!

Contact Shadow-Soft today by phone at 770-546-0077 or by email at contact@shadow-soft.com

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