If you are into software and application development with Java, it is important to have a clear understanding of OpenJDK. OpenJDK can be considered as the open-source version of the Java Development Kit. Hence, you will be able to get your hands on this kit without spending any money out of your pocket.
History of OpenJDK and story behind it
OpenJDK is offered by the developers of Java, Sun Microsystems. In fact, they discovered the need to develop an open-source version of Java after one and a half-decade of launching Java. This is where they came up with the decision to launch OpenJDK. The launch took place back in the year 2006. However, OpenJDK is now not supported by Java. Instead, Oracle is leading it.
The OpenJDK is currently licensed under GNU General Public License. You will also note that many components you can get under OpenJDK are included under Java Compiler and Java Class Library. They are shared with Java Virtual Machine and Java Runtime Environment as well.
OpenJDK is quite different when compared to all the other JDK release projects. When you take a look at the other JDK release projects, you will notice that they are mainly concerned about releasing a single feature at a given time before it is terminated. However, you cannot find such short term functionality out of OpenJDK. Instead, you can consider OpenJDK as an ongoing and long term project. In the meantime, OpenJDK is following a quite strict time-based model as well. It is responsible for splitting the developments into multiple branches. Along with this architecture, it has been possible to offer new feature releases every 6 months. Therefore, people who work along with OpenJDK will be able to regularly get their hands on new features.
There are numerous companies around the world, which are using OpenJDK. They include some of the most reputed brand names as well. Some of the leading companies that stick to using OpenJDK include Red Hat, IBM, Eclipse, Azul, SAP, and Oracle. These companies are offering implementations based upon OpenJDK to the community. These are open source contributions. Hence, the individual software developers and software development teams will get maximum functionality out of it.
Understanding the differences between Oracle JDK and OpenJDK
Back in the year 2017, the Oracle team was able to merge their commercially licensed DJK and OpenJDK. This provided them with the ability to pass down some of the closed source features into OpenJDK. For example, Java Mission Control and Java Flight Recorder were passed down into OpenJDK. In other words, people who were accessing the open-source community could get themselves exposed to it.
This release was mainly made to support customers and commercial clients. As of now, you will be able to find an interchangeable architecture between Oracle JDK and OpenJDK.
According to information that comes from Oracle. They are looking forward to offering Public Updates to support the progression of Oracle JDK 8 up until the end of December in 2020. However, the commercial use updates were terminated back in the year 2019. If you have been using it for commercial use, you will now be able to make a payment and go ahead with signing up with Java SE 8. Then you can keep on using OpenJDK along with time and get the most out of it.
Along with the changes introduced to the Oracle JDK distribution, we could see how some concerns were raised among developers who have been using Java. In fact, they demanded rights to use Oracle JDK along with the OpenJDK builds. We can see these demands still happening out there as Oracle has not provided a clear solution.
Supporters of OpenJDK
Red Hat is among the biggest supporters of OpenJDK. In fact, Red Hat went ahead and started offering long term support for OpenJDK in the Windows platform. Along with that, Red Hat contributed heavily towards the progression of OpenJDK as well. Red Hat is already offering support to OpenJDK in the latest Enterprise Linux Edition. This support is especially available for Java 8 and Java 11.
The long term support offered by Red Hat on OpenJDK will extend the commitment of the company to its major operating system as well as all the other platforms that are being used for enterprise desktop, cloud environments, data center, and Java Developers who are running their application on top of these frameworks. We can expect Red Hat to keep on supporting OpenJDK shortly as well. This will deliver better outcomes for all the people who are using OpenJDK to get their developments.
On the other hand, it is important to note that OpenJDK is committed to offering support for Amazon Web Services. This was officially announced back in the year 2018. AWS is looking forward to extending its support to OpenJDK for a longer period of time as well. In fact, you can expect the support to continue up until June in 2023.
The main objective behind the support of AWS to OpenJDK is to keep OpenJDK free for the people. Hence, we can expect OpenJDK to remain free and open-source, at least for the next few years. This will create a sustainable platform around OpenJDK, which will provide all the support to keep it free for many years to come as well. Likewise, we will see many other supporters who will come forward to extend their support. This support is something that goes beyond the support offered by Oracle. Hence, it is possible to get the maximum out of OpenJDK in the future. As of now, we can expect it to be for many years to come.