Impact of six month releases

Volker Simonis volker.simonis at
Mon Nov 6 07:31:01 UTC 2017

Hi Stephen,

I fully agree with all the points you've raised. BUT the OpenJDK is not the
binary Java distribution most people use (similar to that fact that few
people use a vanilla Linux kernel). It wasn't even available until recently!

The vast majority has always used the Oracle JDK or the JDK that comes with
their Linux distribution (not to mention all the other commercial and free
Java distributions which are available as well). All these binary
distributions are downstream versions of the vanilla OpenJDK project and
they can all freely choose their support time frame and downport policy.
Again, as an analogy, just think about how Linux distros support old Linux
kernels and enhance them with down ports from newer kernels independently
of the main kernel development. My personal opinion is that we will
eventually come to a similar model with Java.

>From my understanding the "new release cadence" step has always been at
least as much about reorganizing the Java support business as it was about
innovation. And it seems that others are now slowly realizing this as well


Stephen Colebourne <scolebourne at> schrieb am Fr. 3. Nov. 2017 um

> On 3 November 2017 at 09:14, Andrew Haley <aph at> wrote:
> >> I think this is throwing the baby (Java's long standing backwards
> >> compatibility) out with the bathwater (frequent releases), but I'm
> >> happy to hear other opinions.
> >
> > I don't believe that such worries are necessarily justified.
> >
> > We need to be able to roll back mistakes.  The Java tradition that
> > nothing ever gets removed, no matter how much mistaken, holds back
> > innovation.  It does this because of a justified fear that if we make
> > a mistake, we're stuck with it, so we have to be ultra-cautious.
> I think its more than that. Java's success is built on the broader
> ecosystem. The JDK itself is an enabler for that. Open source projects
> have to be able to produce jar files that work on multiple releases of
> the JDK. Things that prevent that are a big issue.
> In practical terms I'd argue that:
> 1) LTS releases define the removal cycle. Code added in a  non-LTS
> release (n) can be deprecated in the next non-LTS release (n+1) and
> removed in the release after that (n+2). This works because the code
> was never in an LTS release. However, code that *was* in the last LTS
> release cannot be removed until the release after the next LTS.
> eg. code present in 8 cannot be removed until 12 (as 11 is the first
> LTS where the deprecation is visible)
> eg. code added in 12 can be deprecated in 13 and removed in 14 as 12
> and 13 are non-LTS
> 2) There should be more than 2 security updates for each release.
> Without an overlap period, developers are forced to upgrade to the
> next release immediately it is GA. This does not reflect real-world
> software development practice. If the non-LTS releases are to be used
> in production they will need a bare minimum of 4 security updates (one
> year) to create a time window overlap with the next release.
> 3) The javac --release flag should work for at least the last three
> LTS releases. A time-window of 10 years would also be about right.
> (Its a *really* convenient feature, and if possible I'd prefer it to
> never lose support for older versions).
> Stephen

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