Red Hat Takes over Stewardship of OpenJDK 7

Red Hat Inc. is taking over the stewardship of OpenJDK 7, the company announced last week. The open source solutions provider and longtime Java community leader is stepping in after Oracle Corp. issued its last public security update for Java 7 in April. Red Hat will "take a more active role" in the maintenance of the Java 7 stream through the OpenJDK 7 project, the company said.

Java 8 has enjoyed something of a record adoption rate since the Java Platform Standard Edition 8 (Java SE 8) and the latest Java SE Development Kit (JDK 8) went to general availability in March 2014, but many organizations still need support for their Java 7 applications, said Craig Muzilla, Red Hat's senior vice president of Application Platforms.

"If you wrote something, say in 2011, to Java 7, you may want to keep that application alive for seven or eight years," Muzilla told ADTmag. "And trying to change the runtime environment to Java 8 or 9 could mean you have to rewrite the app. It's important for people to know that if you write an app on that technology, we'll commit to it for a long time to make sure that you are fully supported."

Red Hat offers OpenJDK 7 as a commercially supported technology in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). "If you have written applications on OpenJDK 7, you can rest assured that we're maintaining the long-term viability of that technology, and helping to fix it. And if you want commercial support, you can buy a subscription to RHEL."

Red Hat also took over the maintenance of OpenJDK 6 when Oracle stopped providing support in March 2013. The company's longtime Java technical lead, Andrew Haley, will represent Red Hat as project lead for both the OpenJDK 6 and OpenJDK 7 projects, Muzilla said. Haley is an active member of the OpenJDK governing board, where he helps guide the future strategy of Java and OpenJDK.

"We see our involvement in the OpenJDK projects as a matter of maintaining trust and the true spirit of open source within the Java community," Muzilla said. "When Oracle stops doing bug fixes, we take on that leadership for the older version. But it really goes beyond helping to maintain Java 6 and 7 and support existing users."

Red Hat is one of the most active contributors to the Java community, and has been for many years, Muzilla pointed out. The company is, in fact, the largest contributor to the OpenJDK next to Oracle. The company has served on the Executive Committee of the Java Community Process (JCP), and has been a Java spec lead or Expert Working Group member for more than 35 Java Specification Requests (JSRs). The first Context and Dependency Injection spec (JSR 299), which was led by JBoss Fellow Gavin King, had a big impact on Java EE 6. The company was also behind Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) 3, JavaServer Faces, and the Java Persistence API. It collaborated on four JSRs for Java EE 7: Java API for RESTful Web Services 2.0 (JSR-339); Java Message Service 2.0 (JSR-343); Java Server Faces 2.2 (JSR-344); and Java Content Repository API (JSR-333).

Red Hat is currently spearheading two OpenJDK projects: Shenandoah (JEP 189), which aims to provide an ultra-low-pause-time Garbage Collector; and Thermostat, an instrumentation tool for the Hotspot JVM.

"Red Hat continues to show that it is serious about wanting to see Java succeed in the long term, and to see enterprises succeed with Java," said IDC analyst Al Hilwa in a statement. "Enterprises need and depend on the availability of strong commercial support for platform technologies like Java."

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].