Softwarelicensing

OpenJDK vs Oracle JDK – Independent Review & Comparision

OpenJDK vs Oracle JDK

  • OpenJDK:
    • Open-source, free to use.
    • Community-driven development.
    • General Public License (GPL).
  • Oracle JDK:
    • Oracle’s commercial Java Development Kit.
    • Includes additional performance, security, and stability enhancements.
    • Requires a subscription for commercial use.

OpenJDK vs Oracle JDK – Understanding the differences

openjdk vs oracle jdk

Oracle JDK – Java Development Kits

what is Oracle JDK

Before diving into the specifics of OpenJDK and Oracle JDK, it’s essential to understand what a Java Development Kit (JDK) is.

Java Development Kit (JDK) is a software development environment for developing Java applications and applets. It includes the Java Runtime Environment (JRE), an interpreter/loader (java), a compiler (javac), an archiver (jar), a documentation generator (Javadoc), and other tools needed in Java development.

A JDK is an essential toolkit for Java developers and contains everything you need to write, compile, debug, and run Java applications and applets.

What is Java JRE?

what is Java JRE

The Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is a Java Development Kit (JDK) component. It provides the libraries, the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), and other components for running applications in Java programming.

JRE is used to execute Java applications and is essential for any Java-based software device.

It does not include development tools such as compilers or debuggers, which are part of JDK. The JRE enables cross-platform compatibility, allowing Java applications to run on any system that has it installed.

Oracle announced the discontinuation of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) for commercial use starting January 2019.

This decision was part of Oracle’s broader strategy to shift Java users towards a subscription-based model for commercial use and to encourage the adoption of the OpenJDK for general-purpose Java development.

The last free public update of Oracle JRE for commercial use was for Java SE 8, which occurred in January 2019 (for commercial users) and December 2020 for personal users.

Reasons for Discontinuation:

  • Monetization Strategy: Oracle aimed to monetize Java more aggressively by introducing a subscription model for businesses using Java in production. This move was intended to generate ongoing revenue from Java’s commercial deployments.
  • Encourage OpenJDK Adoption: By discontinuing the free Oracle JRE, Oracle encouraged the use of OpenJDK, the official reference implementation of Java, which is available under an open-source license. This aligns with the broader industry trend towards open-source software.
  • Simplifying Java’s Development and Support: Focusing on the JDK (Java Development Kit) instead of maintaining separate JRE distributions allows Oracle to streamline Java development and support processes. The JDK includes the JRE, so developers can still run Java applications with a single, unified toolkit for development and execution.

Affected Versions:

  • Java SE 8: This was Java’s last version, for which Oracle provided a free public update for commercial use without a subscription. For personal, development, or other non-commercial use, updates were provided until December 2020.
  • Java SE 9 and Later: Oracle’s new release cadence started with Java SE 9, with each version having a short lifespan. Oracle provides updates and support for these versions only under the Oracle JDK Subscription plan.

Conclusion:

Oracle’s discontinuation of the free JRE for commercial use marks a significant shift in how businesses can use Java.

Companies must either subscribe to Oracle’s paid services for Java SE updates and support, transition to OpenJDK for a free, open-source alternative, or explore other vendors offering Java support under different terms.

This change reflects Oracle’s strategy to leverage Java’s widespread use across industries for revenue generation while also fostering the adoption of open-source standards within the Java ecosystem.

Introduction to OpenJDK and Oracle JDK

Now that we understand what a JDK is let’s look at the two versions we focus on: OpenJDK and Oracle JDK.

  • OpenJDK: This is the official reference implementation of Java Standard Edition from Oracle. It’s completely open-source, which means its source code is freely available and can be inspected and modified by anyone. OpenJDK results from an effort from Sun Microsystems (now owned by Oracle) to open-source the official Java platform.
  • Oracle JDK: Oracle commercially supports this product. It’s based on the OpenJDK source code but includes additional commercial features. Oracle provides updates for Oracle JDK as part of a paid support subscription.

Understanding the differences between these two JDKs is crucial for Java developers, as it can impact the development process and the performance of the resulting applications.

The following sections will delve deeper into these differences, giving you the knowledge to choose the right JDK for your needs.

Deep Dive into Oracle JDK

Deep Dive into Oracle JDKs

History and Development of Oracle JDK

Oracle JDK has a rich history that dates back to the inception of Java itself. Originally developed by Sun Microsystems, Java was acquired by Oracle Corporation in 2010.

Oracle JDK is the commercially supported version of Java from Oracle. It’s based on the OpenJDK source code but includes additional commercial features.

Key Features and Advantages of Oracle JDK

Oracle JDK offers several key features and advantages that make it a popular choice among developers:

  1. Commercial Support: Oracle provides updates for Oracle JDK as part of a paid support subscription, ensuring long-term support and stability for commercial applications.
  2. Additional Tools: Oracle JDK includes some different tools not found in OpenJDK, such as the Java Flight Recorder and Java Mission Control, which can be helpful in profiling and monitoring applications.
  3. Performance: Oracle JDK often includes performance enhancements and optimizations over OpenJDK, which can lead to better application performance.

Licensing and Commercial Use of Oracle JDK

Oracle JDK is free for personal and development use, but commercial use requires a paid subscription.

This includes updates and support from Oracle, which can be crucial for businesses running critical applications.

Deep Dive into OpenJDK

Deep Dive into Oracle JDK

History and Development of OpenJDK

OpenJDK, or the Open Java Development Kit, is a free and open-source implementation of the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE).

It was started by Sun Microsystems in 2006 and is now maintained by Oracle. OpenJDK is the official reference implementation of Java SE since version 7.

Key Features and Advantages of OpenJDK

OpenJDK also offers several key features and advantages:

  1. Open Source: As an open-source project, OpenJDK’s source code is freely available and can be inspected and modified by anyone. This allows for a high degree of customization and flexibility.
  2. Community Support: OpenJDK has a large and active community of developers contributing to its development and providing support.
  3. Free for All Uses: OpenJDK is free for all uses, including commercial use. This makes it an attractive option for businesses looking to reduce software costs.

Open Source Nature and Free Use of OpenJDK

OpenJDK is entirely open-source, which means its source code is freely available and can be inspected and modified by anyone.

This open-source nature allows for a high degree of customization and flexibility. Moreover, OpenJDK is free for all uses, including commercial use, making it an attractive option for businesses looking to reduce software costs.

Comparing OpenJDK vs. Oracle JDK

Comparing OpenJDK vs. Oracle JDK

As a Java expert, here’s a more detailed comparison between Oracle JDK and OpenJDK:

  • Features: Both Oracle JDK and OpenJDK offer core Java functionalities. However, Oracle JDK may include additional performance, management, and monitoring features for enterprise users.
  • Security: Both provide regular security updates. Oracle JDK has a more predictable release and update cycle under its commercial license, which can be crucial for enterprise environments prioritizing stable, secure updates.
  • Pricing: OpenJDK is free and open-source. On the other hand, Oracle JDK requires a commercial license for use in production environments, which means a subscription fee.
  • Performance: General performance is similar between the two. Oracle JDK might have slight optimizations for specific enterprise use cases, but the difference is negligible for most applications.
  • Community Support vs. Official Support: OpenJDK benefits from community-driven support and development, making customization more flexible. Oracle JDK offers official support services, a significant consideration for businesses needing guaranteed assistance.

The choice between Oracle JDK and OpenJDK often comes down to specific enterprise needs, support requirements, and budget considerations.

When comparing Oracle JDK and OpenJDK, several key areas must be considered. These include performance, licensing, and community support.

Performance Comparison

oracle jdk vs openjdk features

Both Oracle JDK and OpenJDK offer robust performance for Java applications.

However, Oracle JDK is often noted for its high performance, particularly in enterprise environments.

On the other hand, OpenJDK offers comparable performance, making it a viable option for many use cases.

Licensing Comparison

java comparision with openjdk

Oracle JDK operates under a commercial license. While it is free for personal use and development, commercial use requires a paid license. Conversely, OpenJDK operates under a GPL license, making it free for all services, including commercial applications.

Community and Support Comparison

Oracle JDK comes with paid support, providing users access to professional assistance and regular updates.

OpenJDK, being open source, relies on community support. This means that while there may not be a dedicated support team, a global community of developers actively maintains and improves the software.

Real-World Use Cases for Oracle JDK and OpenJDK

Real-World Use Cases for Oracle JDK and OpenJDK

Oracle JDK Use Cases:

  • Enterprise Environments: Ideal for businesses that require robust performance and reliability in handling large-scale data processing tasks, complex web applications, and managing high-traffic websites. The commercial support and advanced optimization features justify the investment for these scenarios.
  • Financial Services: Banks and financial institutions prefer Oracle JDK for its stability and performance in executing high-frequency trading systems, risk management solutions, and other critical financial operations.
  • Telecommunications: Oracle JDK is often the choice for telecom companies to handle massive volumes of data and ensure high availability and performance in networks.
  • Healthcare Systems: Oracle JDK supports the demanding needs of healthcare applications, including patient management systems, telemedicine solutions, and data analysis tools, where reliability and compliance are paramount.

OpenJDK Use Cases:

  • Small to Medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs): SMBs benefit from OpenJDK’s cost-effectiveness and open-source flexibility for developing and maintaining business applications without the overhead of license fees.
  • Individual Developers and Hobbyists: The accessibility and open-source nature of OpenJDK make it a go-to choice for individual developers working on personal projects, prototypes, or exploring new technologies.
  • Open-Source Projects: Community-driven projects leverage OpenJDK for its compatibility with the GPL license, fostering collaboration and innovation within the open-source ecosystem.
  • Educational Institutions: Schools and universities utilize OpenJDK to teach Java programming and develop academic projects, thanks to its cost-free access and rich community resources.

Both JDKs cater to distinct needs and scenarios, with Oracle JDK focusing on commercial support and performance for enterprise-scale applications and OpenJDK offering a versatile, cost-effective solution for various developers and organizations.

Detailed Guide to Transitioning Between Oracle JDK and OpenJDK

Detailed Guide to Transitioning Between Oracle JDK and OpenJDK

Transitioning between Oracle JDK and OpenJDK requires a strategic approach to ensure a smooth changeover without disrupting your project’s workflow.

Here’s a detailed explanation and step-by-step process on how to effectively manage the transition:

1. Assess Your Needs and Objectives: Begin by evaluating the specific requirements of your project or application. Consider factors like performance expectations, the importance of commercial support, licensing costs, and any proprietary features of Oracle JDK that your application may rely on. Your decision should align with your project’s long-term objectives and operational budget.

2. Conduct a Compatibility Review: Oracle JDK and OpenJDK are largely compatible. However, there may be minor differences, especially if you use features exclusive to Oracle JDK or rely on its performance optimizations. Review your application’s codebase for any dependencies, including third-party libraries and APIs that may behave differently across JDK versions.

3. Plan for Performance Benchmarking: Performance can vary between Oracle JDK and OpenJDK, particularly for applications with high computational demands. Set up a benchmarking environment to compare performance metrics under both JDKs. This will help you identify areas where adjustments may be necessary to maintain or improve performance post-transition.

4. Prepare for the Transition:

  • Update Your Environment: Ensure your development, testing, and production environments are prepared for the JDK switch. This may involve updating IDE settings, building scripts, and deployment configurations.
  • Tooling and Migration Resources: Leverage tools and resources to facilitate JDK migration. Tools like jdeps (Java Dependency Analysis Tool) can help identify potential compatibility issues by analyzing your application’s dependencies.

5. Implement a Thorough Testing Strategy: Testing is critical to a successful transition. Develop a comprehensive test plan covering unit, integration, system, and performance tests. Pay special attention to areas identified during the compatibility review. Automated testing frameworks can be particularly useful in this phase to ensure wide coverage and efficient testing.

6. Rollout and Monitor: Once testing is complete and you’re confident in the transition:

  • Gradually Roll Out the Change: Consider a phased approach, starting with less critical environments or segments of your application. This allows you to monitor performance and functionality in a controlled manner.
  • Monitoring and Support: After the transition, closely monitor your application for any unexpected behavior or performance issues. Utilize community support forums and resources for OpenJDK or, if using Oracle JDK, take advantage of Oracle’s commercial support for any issues.

7. Document the Process: Documenting your transition process, observations, and any adjustments made is invaluable. This documentation can be a reference for future migrations, troubleshooting, and onboarding new team members.

Conclusion: Switching between Oracle JDK and OpenJDK is a significant decision with implications for your project’s performance, functionality, and cost structure. Following a systematic approach involving assessment, planning, testing, and monitoring can ensure a successful transition that aligns with your project’s goals and requirements.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Oracle JDK and OpenJDK have unique strengths and are suited to different situations.

The key differences lie in their licensing, support, and performance. With its commercial license and paid support, Oracle JDK is often the choice for enterprise environments.

On the other hand, with its GPL license and community support, OpenJDK is a popular choice for open-source projects and situations where cost is a significant factor.

Choosing between Oracle JDK and OpenJDK ultimately depends on your needs and circumstances.

It’s essential to consider factors such as your project’s scale, budget, and support needs. Both JDKs offer robust performance and a wide range of features, so the best choice will depend on your unique situation.

FAQs

Here are answers to some common questions about OpenJDK and Oracle JDK:

Is Oracle JDK free for commercial use? 

Oracle JDK is free for personal use and development, but commercial use requires a paid license.

Is OpenJDK free for commercial use? 

OpenJDK operates under a GPL license, making it free for all uses, including commercial applications.

Does Oracle JDK offer better performance than OpenJDK? 

Oracle JDK is often noted for its high performance, particularly in enterprise environments. However, OpenJDK offers comparable performance, making it a viable option for many use cases.

What kind of support is available for Oracle JDK and OpenJDK? 

Oracle JDK comes with paid support, while OpenJDK relies on community support.

Can I switch from Oracle JDK to OpenJDK?

Yes, it’s possible to switch between the two. However, this should be done carefully, considering potential compatibility issues, performance differences, and changes in support.

Additional FAQs on OpenJDK vs. Oracle JDK

  1. What are the performance differences between OpenJDK and Oracle JDK?
    • Performance can vary based on the use case and environment. Both JDKs are similar in performance, with minor differences depending on specific optimizations.
  2. Can I switch from Oracle JDK to OpenJDK without code changes?
    • Yes, in most cases, you can switch without code changes due to the compatibility between the two JDKs.
  3. Is commercial support available for OpenJDK?
    • Several vendors, including Red Hat, Amazon, and others, offer commercial support for OpenJDK.
  4. How often is OpenJDK updated compared to Oracle JDK?
    • OpenJDK and Oracle JDK typically follow a similar release schedule, with updates every six months and long-term support (LTS) versions every three years.
  5. Are there any security differences between OpenJDK and Oracle JDK?
    • Both JDKs receive regular security updates. Oracle JDK might receive some patches slightly earlier, but OpenJDK is also quickly updated.
  6. Can Oracle JDK be used for free in development environments?
    • Yes, Oracle JDK can be free in development and testing environments, but commercial use requires a subscription.
  7. What are the LTS versions of OpenJDK and Oracle JDK?
    • LTS versions are released every three years and include extended support. Both OpenJDK and Oracle JDK follow this LTS schedule.
  8. How does the licensing affect the choice between OpenJDK and Oracle JDK for startups?
    • Startups often prefer OpenJDK due to its open-source license, which does not incur costs for commercial use, unlike Oracle JDK’s subscription model.
  9. Are there any specific industries or applications where one JDK is preferred over the other?
    • The choice often depends on the need for commercial support, licensing considerations, and specific performance optimizations rather than the industry.
  10. What is the process for receiving security updates in OpenJDK?
    • Security updates are provided through the community and can be applied manually or through a distribution that offers regular updates.
  11. Does using OpenJDK over Oracle JDK impact compliance or legal requirements?
    • It can depend on the licensing requirements of the software used. OpenJDK’s GPL license with the Classpath Exception is generally more permissive for commercial use.
  12. How do I report a bug or issue in OpenJDK?
    • Bugs or issues can be reported through the OpenJDK community’s bug tracking system or the support channels of your OpenJDK vendor.
  13. Are there any tools or features exclusive to Oracle JDK?
    • Oracle JDK may include some Oracle-specific features and tools unavailable in OpenJDK, though many essential tools are available in both.
  14. How can I contribute to OpenJDK?
    • Contributions can be made through coding, testing, documentation, and participating in the community forums or mailing lists.
  15. Is there a comprehensive guide to migrating from Oracle JDK to OpenJDK?
    • While there might not be a one-size-fits-all guide, several resources and vendor documentation are available to help with migration strategies.

Author

  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson brings two decades of Oracle license management experience, including a nine-year tenure at Oracle and 11 years in Oracle license consulting. His expertise extends across leading IT corporations like IBM, enriching his profile with a broad spectrum of software and cloud projects. Filipsson's proficiency encompasses IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Salesforce platforms, alongside significant involvement in Microsoft Copilot and AI initiatives, enhancing organizational efficiency.