Azul Releases Zulu OpenJDK for Java 8

Java runtime maker Azul Systems this week released a new version of its build of the OpenJDK known as Zulu.

The free and open source Zulu 8.0 is compatible and compliant with the recently launched Java SE 8, and has been verified with the OpenJDK Java Compatibility Kit (JCK), the company says.

Zulu came out of a partnership between Azul and the Microsoft Open Technologies group (MS Open Tech). The two organizations joined forces in 2013 to create a version of Oracle's reference implementation of the Java standard specifically for Windows Azure. In September of that year, the two companies unveiled Zulu for Windows Server and Windows Azure. In January of this year, the company launched a version of Zulu for both Java 6 and Java 7 running on Linux and Windows.

Azul characterizes Zulu as a "commercialized" build of OpenJDK.

"What that means is that the Java community now has broad, multi-platform support for an enterprise-quality OpenJDK solution that has been tested rigorously -- almost hardened -- and that's something they haven't had before," Sellers told ADTmag.

This release of Zulu is a multi-platform build of the OpenJDK that runs on Windows Server, desktop Windows, and multiple Linux distributions (Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, CentOS, Ubuntu). Zulu 8.0 is also integrated with MS Open Tech's Azure plug-in for Eclipse Java tooling. And it comes through on the company's promise for cloud capabilities with support for the Azure Cloud, Amazon AWS, and Rackspace. This build also supports virtualized deployments using VMware, Microsoft's Hyper-V, and Linux-based KVM. 

Azul has also updated its commercial version, Zulu Enterprise.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company's flagship product, Zing, is a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) based on Oracle's HotSpot JVM, a core component of Java SE. It's a "no-pause" JVM designed to eliminate Garbage Collection (GC) pauses, a long-standing challenge for Java developers. This pauselessness, which Azul calls "generational pauseless garbage collection" (GPGC), enables Java app instances to scale dynamically and reliably. Azul has long targeted GC, which Sellers has called the Achilles heel of Java.

Azul is going head-to-head with Oracle in this space, which 451 Research analyst John Abbott noted in a recent report (PDF) is a "daunting task," but an effort the market should welcome.

"Azul is a small company, and challenging Oracle could turn out to be a daunting task," Abbott wrote. "But there's little doubt that many customers will welcome an alternative source for enterprise Java support beyond Oracle itself, which ends support for older versions to fit its own schedule rather than that of its users. Will Oracle fight back? We doubt it. In reality, there's little interest in individual products down at Redwood Shores, where the focus is firmly on integrated stacks of both software and hardware."

Zulu 8.0 is available now as a free download from the Azul Systems Web site here.  The Windows Azure Plugin for Eclipse with Java can be downloaded from the MS Open Tech site.

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].