Starting with Java 11, Oracle will provide JDK releases under the open source GNU General Public License v2, with the Classpath Exception (GPLv2+CPE), and under a commercial license for those using the Oracle JDK as part of an Oracle product or service, or who do not wish to use open source software. This combination of using an open source license and a commercial license replaces the historical “BCL” license, which had a combination of free and paid commercial terms.
Different builds will be provided for each license, but these builds are functionally identical aside from some cosmetic and packaging differences, described in detail below.
From the BCL to the GPL
The Binary Code License for Oracle Java SE technologies (“BCL”) has been the primary license for Oracle Java SE technologies for well over a decade. The BCL permits use without license fees under certain conditions. To simplify things going forward, Oracle started providing open source licensed OpenJDK builds as of Java 9, using the same license model as the Linux platform. If you are used to getting Oracle Java SE binaries for free, you can simply continue doing so with Oracle’s OpenJDK builds available at jdk.java.net. If you are used to getting Oracle Java SE binaries as part of a commercial product or service from Oracle, then you can continue to get Oracle JDK releases through My Oracle Support (MOS), and other locations.
Functionally identical and interchangeable...
Oracle’s BCL-licensed JDK historically contained “commercial features” that were not available in OpenJDK builds. As promised, however, over the past year Oracle has contributed these features to the OpenJDK Community, including:
From Java 11 forward, therefore, Oracle JDK builds and OpenJDK builds will be essentially identical.
...yet with some cosmetic and packaging differences
There do remain a small number of differences, some intentional and cosmetic, and some simply because more time to discuss with OpenJDK contributors is warranted.
This difference remains in order to provide a consistent experience for specific kinds of legacy use. These modules are either now available separately as part of OpenJFX, are now in both OpenJDK and the Oracle JDK because they were commercial features which Oracle contributed to OpenJDK (e.g., Flight Recorder), or were removed from Oracle JDK 11 (e.g., JNLP).
java 11 2018-09-25
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment 18.9 (build 11+28)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM 18.9 (build 11+28, mixed mode)
And for an OpenJDK 11 build:
openjdk version "11" 2018-09-25
OpenJDK Runtime Environment 18.9 (build 11+28)
OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM 18.9 (build 11+28, mixed mode)
What should we call them?
Ideally, we would simply refer to all Oracle JDK builds as the “Oracle JDK,” either under the GPL or the commercial license depending on your situation. However, for historical reasons while the small remaining differences exist, we will refer to them separately as Oracle’s OpenJDK builds, and the Oracle JDK.