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Oracle have announced a major shift in the way they offer commercial support for Java. The key points are that entry-level support will now be available for $2.50 per desktop per month, or $25 per CPU per month.
Donald Smith, Senior Director of Product Management, has published a blog post covering the new subscription model. InfoQ contacted Oracle for further comment on this new development.
InfoQ: Oracle currently provide Java binaries for free under the GPL 2 (+ ClassPath Exception) license while a release is considered current (i.e. for 6 months, until the next release arrives). Under what license will binary updates be delivered to SE subscribers?
Smith: As per the Java SE Support Roadmap, starting with Java SE 9, in addition to providing Oracle JDK for free under the BCL, Oracle also started providing builds of OpenJDK under an open source license (similar to that of Linux). Oracle is working to make the Oracle JDK and OpenJDK builds from Oracle interchangeable – targeting developers and organisations that do not want commercial support or enterprise management tools.
Beginning with Oracle Java SE 11 (18.9 LTS), the Oracle JDK will continue to be available royalty-free for development, testing, prototyping or demonstrating purposes. Oracle’s OpenJDK builds can be used by those who do not want commercial support or enterprise management tools. The license we will deliver to subscribers is consistent with that of our long standing Java SE Advanced and Java SE Suite products.
InfoQ: How will updates be developed? Will Oracle’s current practice of committing fixes to mainline in the jdk repo, and backporting to jdkN continue?
Smith: As per the Subscription FAQ, the Java SE Subscription product does not change how Oracle leads, develops and provides builds in open source for OpenJDK. All of the long-standing contributions and practices will continue. The Java SE Subscription is simply a new and more convenient license and support offering that does not change how we develop or manage releases.
InfoQ: For how long is Oracle proposing keeping each jdkN source repo open and maintained? In the current model, a feature release source repo is quickly deprecated after the next release arrives. What will be the situation for jdkN repos for LTS releases?
Smith: As discussed earlier, the Java SE Subscription will not impact our contributions to OpenJDK.
InfoQ: Are there any plans to extend free or reduced subscriptions to community groups or non-profit open-source projects?
For enterprises and other shops with a large volume of Java desktop installations, this announcement simply represents a much simpler pricing structure for a commercial support contract. On the other hand, for teams that are only developing server-side Java applications, this is yet another indication that OpenJDK should now be considered the gold standard unless commercial support is required.
The confirmation from Oracle that all updates to their long-term support (LTS) releases will continue to flow into an open, GPL-licensed repository for the entire period that the LTS release is maintained is significant. This means that all commercially-licensed Oracle JDK releases can be matched by a freely-licensed, certified OpenJDK binary built by the community (e.g. AdoptOpenJDK) or by another vendor (e.g. RedHat IcedTea or Azul Zulu).