SAP Builds Its Own Java Distro

Another software vendor has unveiled its own distribution of OpenJDK. SAP's new SapMachine was created to allow its customers and partners to build and maintain an SAP-supported version of OpenJDK.

The German provider of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is calling this a "friendly fork," and emphasized on the project's GitHub page that it was not created to cause divisions in the Java community.

"SAP is committed to ensuring the continued success of the Java platform," the company wrote, and offered a list of its community support activities, including its longtime membership on the JCP Executive Committee, and its history of participation in a number of Java Specification Requests. It noted that SAP is among the largest contributors to the OpenJDK project, and one of the project's biggest external contributors. "We intend to bring as many features as possible into the upstream project and keep the diff of this project as small as possible," the company said.

With this announcement SAP adds to a growing roster of OpenJDK distributions, which currently includes distros from Azul, IBM, Red Hat, Linux and most recently, Amazon. And there's the AdoptOpenJDK project, which comprises a community of Java User Group (JUG) members, Java developers and vendors (including GoDaddy, IBM, jClarity, Microsoft, Pivotal and Red Hat. Virtually all were created in response to Oracle's decision to end free long-term support for OpenJDK after January 2019.

In its GitHub web docs, the company states that "It is the goal of the SapMachine team to keep SapMachine as close to OpenJDK as possible. Therefore, features identified as required by SAP applications should be developed in and contributed to OpenJDK. Only if this is, for whatever reason, not possible, differences between SapMachine and OpenJDK are considered acceptable. However, they have to be kept as small as possible."

SAP's downstream version of OpenJDK, which the company began working on in December 2017, supports Windows, Linux, MacOS and Docker.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].