On Saturday, Red Hat’s Java technical lead Andrew Haley announced that OpenJDK 6 is reaching the end of the road. He intends to resign leadership of OpenJDK 6 at the end of 2016. However this does not mean the OpenJDK 6 project will end (someone else can apply to take over), but it is highly likely.

“Since I took over the lead we’ve maintained OpenJDK 6, back-porting important bug fixes and some updates, but I think the time has now come to say goodbye. We can’t maintain it for ever, and we’ve been strongly recommending people to move to a more recent release for some time.”

A brief history of OpenJDK 6

Released in 2006, Java 6 brought us the Common Annotations API, Scripting, improved web service support through JAX-WS and more. However since it’s release, Java SE 6 saw a number of security issues including vulnerability to zero day flaw. In February 2012, Oracle gave it an ‘end of life’ date of November 2012. This was then extended to February 2013.

The security issues in Java 6 caused some people to question whether Java should be removed from all PCs and Macs in 2013, and if necessary replaced with later versions: “If you are not sure you need Java, try running your PC for a few weeks to see if you can do without it.” As Oracle issued its final patch for version 6 (JDK 6 Update 43), they recommended that “…users migrate to JDK 7 in order to continue receiving public updates and security enhancements.”

At the time, Oracle were supporting Java 7 and providing security updates, while their support of Java 6 was coming to an end. In March 2013, Red Hat announced that they were taking over support of OpenJDK 6 as part of its commitment to the Java community. Red Hat provided a solution for users who didn’t want to switch from OpenJDK to Oracle’s premium Java SE Support.

Since then, Red Hat has stepped in again to take over stewardship of OpenJDK 7 in 2015. Released in 2011, OpenJDK 7 saw improvements for multicore processors, parallelism and dynamic languages. In statistics from Plumbr, when Red Hat took over in 2015, 19.79% of the JVMs they monitor were running Java 6. 59.37% were using Java 7, and 20.84% were using Java 8. This was based on just over 750 JVMs.

The 2016 report (based on 1240 JVMs) paints a sadder picture of Java 6. Only 9.56% of JVMs were running Java 6. This declined from 69.8% in 2013.



Image from Plumbr.

What now?

Despite fears that this is the end of life of OpenJDK 6, Java 6 already surpassed its ‘end of life’ thanks to Red Hat. And as Oracle insider DonaldOJDK notes in his blog post:

“EOL means end of public life.  The version will still exist and be supported for many additional years, just not in the public.”

Red Hat’s support policy still states that OpenJDK 6 will be supported until December 2016. With not very many people using it, and very little going on in the public bug tracker:

…its unlikely there is too much to do anyway.

Goodnight, OpenJDK 6

| Java Language| 390 views | 0 Comments
About The Author
- Katharine is a Java developer by trade, turned Community & Content Manager for Voxxed. Helping developers learn and share knowledge. Contact me at kbe@voxxed.com with any news, articles or tutorials.

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