Azul Launches Early Access of Zulu on Java 9

Java runtime maker Azul Systems is providing developers with early access to Zulu 9, the latest version of its build of the OpenJDK, which will support the upcoming Java 9 SE platform. The company made the announcement today at the annual JavaOne conference in San Francisco. Pre-release builds of Zulu 9 are available immediately from the Zulu Community Web site.

The company is providing access to Zulu 9 a full year before the expected general availability of Java SE 9 to enable the developer community to evaluate the new features in Java 9, such as Project Jigsaw, modular architecture and enhanced graphics performance. "Zulu is free and will help the Java community pre-judge the benefits/drawbacks of Java 9," the company said in an e-mail.

Azul created the open source Zulu in partnership with the Microsoft Open Technologies group (MS Open Tech). The two organizations joined forces in 2013 to develop a commercial version of the OpenJDK specification for Windows Server and Windows Azure. Support was added later for a number of Linux distros, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, Ubuntu Desktop and Server and CentOS Linux.

Zulu 9 incorporates all the planned features of Java 9 and supports Windows, Linux and Mac OS X platforms, the company said. Azul will provide regular updates to pre-release versions of Zulu 9 based on the development cadence of the OpenJDK Java 9 project.

"In an era where developers are the new kingmakers, early access, multiple-platform support and open source are all prized characteristics," said RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady in a statement. "With Zulu 9, Azul is checking all of those boxes with its early release of an open source Java SE."

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Azul bills itself as the only company focused exclusively on the Java runtime. It's one of only two companies currently providing cross-platform JVMs; Oracle is the other one. (IBM, Red Hat and some niche providers offer JVMs specific to their other products.)

Azul'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.

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].