java licensing

Understanding Java JRE Licensing

Java JRE Licensing

  • Identify Version: Determine which Java JRE version you are using.
  • Check Licensing: Different versions have different licensing terms.
  • Security Patches: Apply only those allowed under the license.
  • Commercial Use: Requires a subscription from Java 11 onwards.
  • Commercial Features: Using features like JFR, JMC, AMC, and Usage Tracker requires a license.

Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is essential for running Java applications. However, its licensing can be complex, especially with different versions and updates released over the years.

To ensure compliance and avoid legal issues, it’s crucial to understand the licensing terms associated with each version and security patch of the JRE.

This article will guide you through the key aspects of Java JRE licensing and help you determine the correct licensing agreement for your use case.

What is Java JRE

Java JRE Licensing Overview

The Java Runtime Environment (JRE) provides the libraries, Java Virtual Machine (JVM), and other components necessary to run applications written in the Java programming language. It does not include development tools such as compilers or debuggers.

Java JRE Licensing Overview

Oracle’s licensing for Java JRE has evolved. Historically, Oracle provided free public updates for the JRE, allowing users to run Java applications without incurring costs.

However, starting with Java 11, Oracle changed its licensing model, which now requires a subscription for commercial use.

Key Versions and Licensing Agreements

  1. Java 8 and Earlier:
    • Public Updates: Free public updates for Java 8 were available until January 2019 for commercial use and until December 2020 for personal use.
    • Extended Support: Beyond these dates, organizations need a commercial license to receive updates and support.
  2. Java 11 and Later:
    • Oracle JDK: From Java 11 onwards, Oracle JDK is available under a subscription model for commercial use.
    • OpenJDK: An open-source alternative that is free to use, including for commercial purposes. OpenJDK provides the same functionality but without Oracle’s commercial support and updates.
  3. Java SE 17:
    • LTS (Long-Term Support): Java 17 is a long-term support release with free use conditions under the Oracle Technology Network License Agreement for specific use cases.
    • No-Fee Terms and Conditions (NFTC): Allows free use of Java 17, provided only security patches released under this agreement are applied. Commercial features require a license.

Determining the Correct Licensing Agreement

Determining the Correct Licensing Agreement

To determine the correct licensing agreement for your use of Java JRE, follow these steps:

  1. Identify the Version:
    • Check which version of the JRE you are using. Different versions have different licensing terms and support timelines.
  2. Check for Security Patches:
    • Determine if you are applying security patches. Under the NFTC agreement, only specific security patches can be applied for free use for versions like Java 17.
  3. Commercial vs. Personal Use:
    • Identify if your use is commercial or personal. From Java 11 onwards, commercial use generally requires a subscription for Oracle JDK. Personal use often falls under free-use conditions, especially for earlier versions.
  4. Consider Alternative JDKs:
    • Evaluate if you can use OpenJDK or another JDK distribution that aligns with your licensing needs and use case.

Example Scenarios

Scenario 1: Using Java 8 in a Business Environment

  • Action Required: Since public updates for Java 8 ended in January 2019 for commercial use, a commercial license or Oracle Java SE Subscription is required for continued updates and support.

Scenario 2: Developing with Java 11 for a Commercial Product

  • Action Required: For commercial use, use Oracle JDK under a subscription model, or consider using OpenJDK, which is free for all use cases but does not include Oracle’s commercial support.

Scenario 3: Running Java 17 on Personal Projects

  • Action Required: You can use Java 17 under the NFTC agreement, provided you only apply security patches released under this agreement. Avoid commercial features to stay within free-use conditions.

Scenario 4: Deploying Java 17 in a Corporate Environment

  • Action Required: A commercial license is required if you use Java 17 beyond the free use conditions or apply older updates after 2-3 years. Ensure compliance by regularly reviewing Oracle’s licensing terms.

Commercial Features Triggering Licensing

Commercial Features Triggering Licensing

Using certain advanced features in Java JRE will require a commercial license, regardless of the version or the basic licensing terms.

These features include:

  1. Java Flight Recorder (JFR):
    • For profiling and monitoring applications in real-time.
  2. Java Mission Control (JMC):
    • For managing and monitoring Java applications.
  3. Java Advanced Management Console (AMC):
    • For managing Java installations and settings.
  4. Java Usage Tracker:
    • This is used to track Java application usage across an organization.

Compliance and Best Practices

  1. Regular Audits:
    • Conduct regular audits of Java usage within your organization to ensure compliance with the current licensing terms.
  2. Stay Updated:
    • Regularly review Oracle’s licensing policies and terms. Licensing terms can change, and staying informed will help you remain compliant.
  3. Documentation:
    • Maintain clear documentation of all Java versions and the security patches and updates applied. This documentation can be crucial during audits.
  4. Engage with Experts:
    • Consult with licensing experts or Oracle representatives if you have any uncertainties. Professional guidance can help you navigate complex licensing scenarios and avoid compliance issues.


Java JRE licensing requires carefully considering the version, use case and applied security patches.

Organizations and individuals can ensure they use Java JRE compliantly and cost-effectively by understanding the different licensing agreements and their conditions.

Whether opting for Oracle JDK, OpenJDK, or another distribution, it is crucial to stay informed and proactive about managing Java licenses.


  • 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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