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Red Hat Takes Over Leadership of OpenJDK 6

by Charles Humble on Mar 12, 2013 |

Red Hat have announced that they are taking over support of OpenJDK 6, just days after Oracle posted what it says will be the final freely available update, number 43, to its commercial Java 6 development kit.

Update 43 is the latest in a series of emergency patches to deal with a set of severe vulnerabilities that have plagued the Java browser plug-in of late. The release notes for the patch state that "Oracle recommends that users migrate to JDK 7 in order to continue receiving public updates and security enhancements".

For its part, Red Hat states that it “has transitioned into a leadership role for the OpenJDK 6 project, effectively extending support for the technology and its users".

Java 6 is still widely used in a large number of enterprises, a fact which Oracle tacitly admitted when it pushed the End of Life date for Java 6 back twice. Originally set for July 2012, it was moved first to November 2012 and then to February 2013. The firm now offers only commercial support for that version, and pricing information is available here.

Red Hat's focus will likely be closing security holes and fixing other bugs as they are found in OpenJDK 6. Most bug fixes that Oracle makes for JDK 7 will be applicable for JDK 6 as well, a point noted on the OpenJDK 6 website.

...bug fixes in JDK 7 that do not involve specification changes have presumptive validity for OpenJDK 6. That is, by default such fixes are assumed to be applicable to OpenJDK 6, especially if having "soaked" in JDK 7 for a time without incident.

Whilst Red Hat's move is presumably primarily aimed at customers using JBoss middleware and running OpenJDK on Red Hat servers, it does provide enterprises using Oracle's Java 6 a third option - switch to Java 7, buy Oracle support, or switch to OpenJDK 6.

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Not exactly a hostile take-over! by Cameron Purdy

A couple of points of clarification:

1) It is worth pointing out that RedHat has been investing in OpenJDK for quite some time, and has contributed quite a few fixes for OpenJDK. In this regard, kudos to the RedHat team! Also, this investment from companies like RedHat shows that the OpenJDK project is alive and well, and that the OpenJDK model is working well.

2) RedHat isn't "taking over support"; that is an odd and unfortunate choice of words. RedHat has been providing support for a number of their products on OpenJDK 6 for some time, and what they've announced is that they intend to continue supporting OpenJDK 6, and remaining active in a leadership role in the OpenJDK 6 project.

3) As you mentioned, Oracle is NOT dropping support for Java SE 6. Many of Oracle's own products are supported on Java SE 6, and Oracle will continue to support Java SE 6 for customers of those products -- and of course for customers that have Java SE support -- for years to come.

The migration of production workloads to Java SE 7 has been quite steady over the past year, and a significant number of developers are already working with early releases of JDK 8. It is natural that development and testing resources would be focused as much as possible, which explains why Oracle has focused its tuning and stabilization engineering cycles on Java SE 7 and beyond.

Peace,

Cameron Purdy | Oracle
Working for Oracle, but the opinions expressed are my own and may not necessarily reflect the views of my employer. Some assembly required. Batteries not included. Do not try this at home.

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