java licensing

Java 17 Licensing: Free Use and Conditions

Java 17 Licensing: Free Use

  • Free Use Conditions: Java 17 is free under the NFTC agreement if only security patches released under this agreement are applied.
  • No Mandatory Updates: Free to use without additional licensing as long as no older updates (after 2-3 years) are applied.
  • Commercial Features: Using features like Java Flight Recorder, Java Mission Control, Advanced Management Console, and Usage Tracker requires a commercial license.

Oracle’s release of Java 17 marks a significant point in the evolution of the Java platform. This version is noteworthy for its technical advancements and licensing terms under the Oracle No-Fee Terms and Conditions (NFTC) agreement.

This article explores the conditions under which Java 17 is free to use, the implications of security patches, and the commercial features that necessitate a Java license.

Free Use of Java 17 under the NFTC Agreement

Free Use of Java 17 under the NFTC Agreement

Oracle’s NFTC agreement allows users to run Java 17 for free under specific conditions. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Initial Use and Security Patches:
    • Java 17 can be downloaded for free, provided users apply only the security patches released under the NFTC agreement.
    • These patches are intended to secure the Java environment without incurring licensing fees.
  2. No Mandatory Updates:
    • Users can continue running Java 17 without updating it beyond the free security patches. This means you can stick with Java 17 as it is indefinitely, without additional costs.
  3. Long-Term Support (LTS):
    • Oracle’s policy indicates that after 2-3 years, older updates for LTS versions like Java 17 will require a commercial license.
    • Despite this, the base version of Java 17, without further updates, remains free to use.

Conditions for Free Use

To utilize Java 17 for free, users must adhere to certain conditions:

  1. Application of NFTC Patches Only:
    • Users must apply only those security patches that Oracle releases under the NFTC agreement. Applying other types of updates might trigger licensing fees.
  2. Avoiding Older Updates:
    • Users should be cautious about older updates after the initial 2-3 years. Oracle requires a commercial license for older updates beyond the free security patches released initially.
  3. Non-Commercial Features:
    • Certain advanced features are designated as commercial, and using them will require a license regardless of the version of Java 17.

Java Commercial Features Requiring a License

Java Commercial Features Requiring a License

Even with the free-use conditions, some features of Java 17 are considered commercial and require a license. These features include:

  1. Java Flight Recorder (JFR):
    • A tool for collecting diagnostic and profiling data about a running Java application. It’s essential for performance tuning but classified as a commercial feature.
  2. Java Mission Control (JMC):
    • Provides a comprehensive set of tools for managing, monitoring, and optimizing Java applications. Using JMC requires a commercial license due to its advanced capabilities.
  3. Java Advanced Management Console (AMC):
    • Used for managing Java installations and settings across an organization. AMC’s centralized management features are particularly valuable for enterprise environments but fall under commercial licensing.
  4. Java Usage Tracker:
    • Tracks and logs Java application usage to help organizations manage their Java deployments and ensure compliance with licensing requirements. This feature also requires a commercial license.

Practical Implications for Users

Understanding the practical implications of these licensing terms is crucial for compliance and cost management. Here are some scenarios:

  1. Small Businesses and Individual Developers:
    • The NFTC agreement benefits these users significantly. They can use Java 17 for development and production without worrying about licensing fees, provided they adhere to the free-use conditions.
  2. Enterprise Environments:
    • Larger organizations need to be more cautious. While they can use Java 17 for free initially, they must plan for potential licensing costs once they start needing older updates or commercial features.
  3. Educational Institutions:
    • Schools and universities can use Java 17 for teaching and research without incurring costs, making it an excellent choice for educational purposes.
  4. Long-Term Planning:
    • Organizations should consider their long-term strategy for Java usage. If they anticipate needing updates beyond the initial 2-3 year period, they should budget for potential licensing costs or explore alternative Java distributions like OpenJDK, which might offer different terms.

Strategies for Managing Java 17 Licensing

To effectively manage Java 17 licensing under the NFTC agreement, organizations should consider the following strategies:

  1. Regular Audits and Monitoring:
    • Conduct regular audits of Java usage within the organization. Ensure that all instances of Java 17 comply with the free-use conditions.
    • Stay informed and monitor for updates or changes in Oracle’s licensing policies.
  2. Clear Documentation:
    • Maintain clear documentation of how Java 17 is used, including any security patches applied. This helps in demonstrating compliance during audits.
  3. Evaluate Alternative Options:
    • Consider alternatives like OpenJDK for applications that require long-term support and updates without the licensing constraints of Oracle’s Java.
    • OpenJDK is an open-source implementation of the Java Platform, Standard Edition, and can be used freely, including for commercial purposes.
  4. Engage with Oracle:
    • If you are uncertain about licensing terms or specific usage scenarios, engage with Oracle or a licensing expert to clarify. This can help avoid potential compliance issues.


The Java NFTC agreement provides a framework that allows free use of Java 17 under specific conditions.

Users can leverage this agreement to run Java 17 without licensing fees, provided they stick to security patches released under the NFTC and avoid older updates beyond the initial 2-3-year period. However, using advanced commercial features will require a license, regardless of the version.


  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson brings two decades of Oracle license management experience, including a nine-year tenure at Oracle and 11 years in Oracle license consulting. His expertise extends across leading IT corporations like IBM, enriching his profile with a broad spectrum of software and cloud projects. Filipsson's proficiency encompasses IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Salesforce platforms, alongside significant involvement in Microsoft Copilot and AI initiatives, enhancing organizational efficiency.

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