Java Next!

Release Cadence, Licensing, and Long-Term Support

Java Next!

Release Cadence
Oracle JDK vs OpenJDK
Long-Term Support

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Java Next!

Release Cadence
Oracle JDK vs OpenJDK
Long-Term Support

A new Java, every six months.

Old release cadence

The plan

  • releases are driven by flagship features

  • new major release roughly every 2 years

Old release cadence

The reality

  • Java 7 took 5 years

  • Java 8 took 3 years

  • Java 9 took 3.5 years

"Bump an 'almost ready' feature
2+ years into the future?"

⇝ "Better to delay the release."


  • implemented features provide no value

  • increases reaction time

  • puts (political) pressure on projects

  • makes everybody grumpy

The new world

If it hurts, do it more often.

  • fixed six-month release cadence
    (March and September)

  • ship everything that is ready

All are major releases
with known quality guarantees.

⇝ No "beta versions"!


  • features are developed in "branches"

  • merged into "master" when (nearly) finished

  • "release branch" created 3 months prior

  • only bug fixes merged to "release branch"


  • completed features get out earlier

  • no pressure to complete features on time

  • easier to incubate features

  • easier to react to changes in the ecosystem

Release fatigue?

"Java will change too fast."

"Constant migrations will be expensive."

"Test matrix will explode."

"Ecosystem will fragment."

Fast Change

The rate of innovation doesn’t change. The rate of innovation delivery increases.

— Mark Reinhold

Maybe speed will pick up a little:

  • recent activities target low-hanging fruits

  • Oracle is focusing on Java core (my impression!)

Fast Change

By and large:

Evolution will be steadier, not faster.

(see Java 11)

Expensive migrations

But not the norm:

  • Java 10 is trivial

  • Java 11 is easy

Oracle is still committed
to backwards compatibility!

Expensive migrations

Balance shifted between
compatibility vs evolution:

  • @Deprecated(forRemoval=true)

  • "one major release" is now 6 months, not 36

  • increasing bytecode level

  • incubating features (if used incorrectly)

Expensive migrations


  • stick to supported APIs

  • stick to standardized behavior

  • stick to well-maintained projects

  • keep dependencies and tools up to date

  • consider using jlink

Exploding test matrix

As the range of supported versions increases…​

  • builds need to run against all of them

  • developers need to switch between them

Many tools already support this.
⇝ We need to know how.

Also: Moar automization!

Fragmenting Ecosystem

"This will be like Python 2/3!"



  • find a suitable update cadence

  • build on each release (including EA)

  • report problems

  • only rely on standardized behavior

  • heed deprecation warnings (jdeprscan)

  • keep dependencies and tools up to date

Most importantly:
Be aware of what’s coming!

Java Next!

Release Cadence
Oracle JDK vs OpenJDK
Long-Term Support

OpenJDK is the new default!

Oracle JDK vs OpenJDK

Sun/Oracle JDK used to…​

  • contain more features

  • be perceived as more stable

  • be perceived as more performant

As of Java 11, on a technical basis,
Oracle JDK and OpenJDK are identical. *

Oracle JDK vs OpenJDK

Only difference is license and support model:

  • Oracle ships OpenJDK at,
    licensed under GPL+CE

  • Oracle JDK is fully commercial:
    from 11 on, no free use in production

⇝ OpenJDK is the new normal!

Java Next!

Release Cadence
Oracle JDK vs OpenJDK
Long-Term Support

What if you (or your customers)
don’t want to update every six months?

Oracle support

What does Oracle support?

  • free updates for current OpenJDK version
    (i.e. six months)

  • commercial support for Oracle JDK
    for 5+ years for Java 11, 17, 23, etc.
    (called Java SE Subscription; prices)

⇝ No free LTS by Oracle.

Oracle support

How does Oracle handle bug/security/etc fixes?

  • usually developed on "master" (OpenJDK)

  • merged to current version’s "branch" (OpenJDK)

  • merged to current LTS version (Oracle JDK)

⇝ "LTS" means merging fixes
into old JDK versions.

Commercial LTS

Free LTS

Current discussions give hope:

  • free LTS for OpenJDK 11, 17, 23, etc.
    by the community for 4+ years

  • built and shipped by Adopt OpenJDK

Free LTS

[L]et me assure you of one thing: whether by Oracle or Red Hat or someone else, JDK LTS releases will continue to be supported. We all have a lot invested in Java, and we won’t let it fall.

— Andrew Haley, Red Hat (link)

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