Is Java Free and Open Source?


So I was having a little chat with my colleague, and he told me, “Java is free and open source.”

Well, no offense to him, but my experience in this language told me that there’s more to this story. I told him that yes, Java is open source, but some commercial versions are not open source.

To get more into the depth of Java’s open-source status, we must look back at Sun Labs and their decisions that created this fiasco even more controversial. I have broken down some of these questions into simpler terms.

Is Java Free and Open-Source?

Java is open-source and provides free features for non-commercial developers such as students and educators. Therefore, Java is free for those who are learning or creating personal projects. However, if you wish to pay for a commercial license, one can be purchased from Oracle for as little as $2.50/month.

Is Java Free For Everyone?

Java is said to be free, but not everyone can use it free of cost. The OpenJDK or the Open Java Development Kit is the commercially free version available for the users. This JDK version is an open-source implementation of Java SE.

Here is what happened. Sun initially released Java under a proprietary software license back in 2007. Soon, they amended their decision and re-licensed this language for General Public, converting a closed-source Java to open-source.

But wait, it doesn’t end here. The real deal began when Oracle landed in the business, adding more confusion to an already chaotic situation. Let me tell you how it went.

Oracle took control of Sun in 2010. Both parties decided that Oracle would let Java be available for the public under the open-source model. Oracle acquired it under the Oracle Binary Code License Agreement.

The issue arose when Oracle commercialized Java and provided its open-source features as separately licensed products. This complicated scenario resulted in products named Java SE Advanced and Java SE Suite. Oracle also launched a desktop license named Java SE Advanced Desktop.

After that, Oracle also announced that people would NOT use Java SE 8 for business, production, or commercial use without acquiring a license; however, the general public could still use it for basic computing.

Oracle allowed developers to use license-free Java for developing educational apps or web pages, but for developing commercial or personal projects, they must seek a valid license.

Why Would I Want To Pay For Java?

There are multiple reasons why paying for a Java license would benefit you. It took me time to gather Java’s paid features, but they are worth paying for.

First of all, as Java SE is composed of multiple features and capabilities licensed under the Oracle Binary Code License Agreement, most of its components are free of cost. However, Oracle has put a paid license on Java SE when someone uses it for commercial purposes.

One of the best commercial Java SE features is the inclusion of MSI Enterprise JRE Installer. This Java feature helps users to distribute Java Runtime to PCs and laptops.

A valid Java license is required to operate MSI Enterprise JRE when used for commercial or internal business purposes. If one uses these commercial features only to test, design, and develop, they might not need a license.

If I talk about more subscription benefits, you get seamless cloud deployment support for your desktop and server. The licensed Java SE version’s performance is more stable and secure due to the constant updates from Oracle.

Moreover, you also get 24/7 Oracle customer support with around 27 languages to solve your software issues. You can get direct update access from My Oracle Support as well.

The commercial Java SE versions are firstly available to those who subscribe to its license, and then they release it to the public. The license holders also receive early updates as well as bug fixes.

Oracle also has provided a simple monthly subscription price for those who couldn’t afford to pay at once.

How Much Does A Commercial License For Java SE Cost?

If you wanted to create a commercial application with Java, you would need a subscription. According to Oracle’s website, the cost for Java SE (Standard Edition) is as follows:

Desktop pricing is $2.50 per user per month, or lower with tiered volume discounts. Processor pricing for use on Servers and/or Cloud deployments is $25.00 per month or lower.

Oracle.com

What Are Some Open Source Projects In Java?

Java has presented some practical open-source projects with the help of talented developers. I have used some of these open-source projects from GitHub, and yes, I was amazed.

For those who don’t know about GitHub, it’s a social platform for worldwide developers to acquire and develop open-source projects free of cost and work on them.

Here is a list of open-source Java SE projects that you can look upon:

1. Tsunami Security Scanner:

Tsunami scanners are mainly used for network security. This Java project was developed as a plugin system to help developers detect any vulnerability into the network. These plugins thoroughly scan the network in many ways.

Many developers have expressed their reliability on Tsunami Security Scanner, which is why it has gained immense popularity on GitHub.

2. Smart City Project:

Smart City Project is another Java open-source marvel. This application would allow tourists from all over the World to get information about the city or country they are traveling to.

Smart City Project will guide you throughout the journey from their climate to their hotels to their famous spots. This web-based software provides easy path-finding as well as confirming air and hotel tickets for you.

3. Signal Messaging:

The revolutionary Signal messaging application is a private and encrypted Android utility. This java-based open-source application is one of the most successful Java projects ever.

Signal allows text-encryption and other essential security details. Luckily, you can check its source-code and learn more about developing a secure messaging application.

4. Blynk:

Blynk is another open-source Java SE product. With Blynk, the users could apply the Internet of Things (IoT) to different hardware.

In short, Blynk provides an interface between software apps and hardware to work collaboratively. Blynk’s central server is Java-based as well, so both public and private servers can be connected. 

5. Universal Image Loader:

The UIL is a multi-purpose, robust, and super-customizable image tool developed by Java. It performs image loading, displaying, and caching.

You can also configure your image loading and caching by using advanced controls. The Universal Image Loader has already become much popular, and its source code is readily available on GitHub.

How To Start Programming With Java

Java is a great language to learn, as it’s used in so many different enterprise applications. If you want to learn to program with Java, I highly recommend taking both of the following two learning approaches:

1. Learn via Textbook

Learning a new programming language is like learning a new speaking language. First, you have to learn what all the words mean before you can speak the language fluently.

Therefore, learning from a textbook is the best step to take first. This is how I learned not only Java, but also Python, SQL, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. This is how you learn at University to earn a degree.

The best textbook that I learned from while at college is Building Java Programs: A Back To Basics Approach and it accounted for two semesters of programming. You can purchase it on Amazon.com here.

I used the 4th edition so depending on when you’re reading this, you may want to choose a more updated version.

That said, this is a great book because it takes you from the absolute basics, through to the fundamentals of object-oriented programming, and finally covering data structures and algorithms with Java.

2. Learn via Projects

Before you contribute to open source projects, you’ll probably want to put your newly acquired Java programming skills to the test with a few personal projects.

To help you get started, I put together an awesome list of 10 Java Project for Beginners that includes full video tutorials for each project. The best part about these tutorials is that they’re absolutely free!

Conclusion:

Is Java open-source? Yes, Java is mostly open-source and provides free features when the developers need to compile an educational project. However, one has to pay some fee if they want Java for commercial or business uses.

Tim Statler

Tim Statler is a Computer Science student at Governors State University and the creator of Comp Sci Central. He lives in Crete, IL with his wife, Stefanie, and their cats, Beyoncé and Monte. When he's not studying or writing for Comp Sci Central, he's probably just hanging out or making some delicious food.

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