Red Hat and GraalVM Community Create "Mandrel" GraalVM Distro

Long-time Java community leader Red Hat continued its ongoing mission to drive the evolution of open source in general, and Java in particular, with a new downstream distribution of GraalVM, called Mandrel. Created in collaboration with the GraalVM community, this distribution will power Quarkus, the Kubernetes-native Java framework, which was recently added to the Red Hat Runtimes portfolio.

"Mandrel can best be described as a distribution of a regular OpenJDK with a specially packaged GraalVM native image," Mark Little, Red Hat's VP of engineering, explained in a blog post…. "The difference for the user is minimal, but for maintainability the upstream alignment with both OpenJDK 11 and GraalVM is critical. It means that Red Hat can offer better support to customers since we have skilled engineers working within the OpenJDK and GraalVM community."

GraalVM is a universal virtual machine for running applications written in JavaScript, Python, Ruby, R, JVM-based languages such as Java, Scala, Clojure, Kotlin, and LLVM-based languages such as C and C++. It's a project "with many moving parts," Little wrote, "with contributions every day from Red Hat, Oracle, and many other GraalVM community members… We have found that the best way to support our customers while remaining true to our open source commitment is to establish downstream open source distributions built in concert with their upstream counterparts."

Mandrel makes it possible to bundle GraalVM on top of OpenJDK 11 in Red Hat Enterprise Linux and other OpenJDK 11 distributions, Little added. "On the GraalVM side, this allows features such as the in-progress Java Flight Recorder to be supported in Mandrel sooner than GraalVM if release timing requires it," he said.

The Quarkus project, which was launched in 2019, provided the "evolutionary step needed for Java developers in a new world of Kubernetes and serverless, Little wrote. "In essence, Quarkus changes the rules of the Java game," he said, by optimizing both Java applications and the frameworks that underpin them to better match the constrained environments in which they are deployed and reverses the architectural and design choices made in Java's early days."

With Mandrel, both Red Hat customers and the GraalVM community benefit from truly open development, Little wrote, and Red Hat can support its customers with "tried-and-true mechanisms," while giving back to the upstream communities it relies on for continuing to advance the state of the art in open source computing.

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].