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HandWiki. IcedTea. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 21 April 2024).
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IcedTea is a build and integration project for OpenJDK launched by Red Hat in June 2007. IcedTea also includes some addon libraries: IcedTea-Web is a free software implementation of Java Web Start and the Java web browser applet plugin. IcedTea-Sound is a collection of plugins for the Java sound subsystem, including the PulseAudio provider which used to be included with IcedTea. The Free Software Foundation recommends that all Java programmers use IcedTea as their development environment. Historically, the initial goal of the IcedTea project was to make the OpenJDK software, which Sun Microsystems released as free software in 2007, usable without requiring any proprietary software, and hence make it possible to add OpenJDK to Fedora and other Linux distributions that insist on free software. This goal was met, and a version of IcedTea based on OpenJDK was packaged with Fedora 8 in November 2007. April 2008 saw the first release of a new variant, IcedTea6, which is based on Sun's build drops of OpenJDK6, a fork of the OpenJDK with the goal of being compatible with the existing JDK6. This was released in Ubuntu and Fedora in May 2008. The IcedTea package in these distributions has been renamed to OpenJDK using the OpenJDK trademark notice. In June 2008, the Fedora build passed Sun's rigorous TCK testing on x86 and x86-64. IcedTea 2, the first version based on OpenJDK 7, was released in October 2011. IcedTea 3, the first version based on OpenJDK 8, was released in April 2016. Support for IcedTea 1 was dropped in January 2017.

icedtea openjdk openjdk6

1. History

This project was created following Sun's release under open source licenses of its HotSpot Virtual Machine and Java compiler in November 2006, and most of the source code of the class library in May 2007. However, parts of the class library, such as font rendering, colour management and sound support, were only provided as proprietary binary plugins. This was because the source code for these plugins was copyrighted to third parties, rather than Sun Microsystems.[1][2] The released parts were published under the terms of the GNU General Public License, a free software license.

Due to these missing components, it was not possible to build OpenJDK only with free software components. Sun aimed to negotiate with the license holders to allow this code to be released under a free software license, or failing that, to replace these proprietary elements with alternative implementations. With the plugins replaced, the class library would then be completely free. Sun has continued to use the proprietary code in their certified binary releases.[3]

Following the announcement, the IcedTea project was started and was formally announced on June 7, 2007,[4] with a build repository provided by the GNU Classpath team. The team could not call their software product "OpenJDK" because this is a trademark which was owned by Sun Microsystems. They instead decided to use the temporary name "IcedTea".[5]

On November 5, 2007, Red Hat signed both the Sun Contributor Agreement and the OpenJDK Community Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) License. The press release suggested that this would benefit the IcedTea project.[6] Simon Phipps suggested the possibility of IcedTea being hosted on,[7] and Mark Reinhold noted that signing the copyright assignment could allow Red Hat to contribute parts of IcedTea to Sun for inclusion in the mainstream JDK.[8][9]

Since then, a number of patches from IcedTea have made their way into OpenJDK.[10][11]

In June 2008, it was announced that IcedTea6 (as the packaged version of OpenJDK on Fedora 9) has passed the (TCK) tests and can claim to be a fully compatible Java 6 implementation.[12] The project continues to track OpenJDK 6, OpenJDK 7 and OpenJDK 8 development in separate repositories, and contribute patches back upstream[13] where possible; the current state of each IcedTea patch is maintained on the IcedTea wiki.

2. Aims

The IcedTea project started with two aims:

  1. to make it possible for the GNU Compiler for Java to compile the OpenJDK code. OpenJDK presented a bootstrapping question of itself being written in Java. Hence, developers needed an already-working Java compiler and runtime in order to build OpenJDK. Originally, only the existing proprietary Sun JDK met that requirement. Free distributions like Fedora can't depend on proprietary tools in order to build packages, so the IcedTea project had to make it possible to compile the code using free software. When this was done, the resulting IcedTea version of OpenJDK could be used to compile itself, thus escaping the need to use non-Free software for future compiling.[4][14]
  2. to provide free equivalents of the binary plugins that existed in OpenJDK because Sun was unable to release all the source code. As of March 2008, this is no longer necessary for IcedTea6, as the OpenJDK 6 build drops can be built with no binary plugins. With the release of b10,[15] which replaces the proprietary sound support with that from the Gervill project, a full implementation of Java 1.6 can be built without binary plugins. The only remaining binary plug is for SNMP support, which is an optional provider for the JMX architecture and not part of the specification. As of b53 in April 2009,[16] the same is true for OpenJDK 7. Outside the core of OpenJDK, binary plugins are still required for utilizing Java Web Start applets that run using the browser plugin (distinct from the core plugins discussed earlier); as of 2013, the only source code available that accomplishes this goal is the IcedTea-Web project.

3. Other Benefits

IcedTea also provides a more familiar build system by providing a wrapper around the OpenJDK makefiles using the GNU Autotools. This removes the need to remember numerous environment variables for configuring the build. (The current IcedTea builds set roughly forty such variables for the underlying OpenJDK build.) It has also provided a place for early work on features which will eventually appear in the main OpenJDK builds such as Gervill[17] and for work on ports to other platforms.

3.1. IcedTea-Web

IcedTea NPR plugin (based on IcedTea6) listed in Debian Iceweasel 6.0.2 (Knoppix 6.7.1)

IcedTea-web provides a free-software Java Web browser plugin. It was the first to work in 64-bit browsers under 64-bit Linux, a feature Sun's proprietary JRE later addressed.[18] This makes it suitable to enable support for Java applets in 64-bit Mozilla Firefox, among others. IcedTea-web also provides a free Java Web Start (Java Network Launching Protocol (JNLP)) implementation. Sun had promised to release their plugin and Web Start implementation as part of OpenJDK.[19] Despite pressure from the community,[20] Sun Microsystems did not succeed in doing so before the company was acquired by Oracle. Development on the IcedTea-web plugin continues, with the latest version of the next-generation plugin supporting Google's Chromium[21] in addition to Firefox. Since 2011, development takes place in the separate IcedTea-Web project.[22] As of April 2013, Oracle has kept the codebase of the Java plugin fully proprietary,[23] in contrast to the remainder of OpenJDK. As of December, 2017, IcedTea-Web 1.7.1 adds support for jdk9.

As of October 2018, Oracle has announced that public Java Web Start support will end with Java SE 11.[24] In March the icedtea-web source code was donated to the AdoptOpenJDK project.[25] Based on this the sources and issue management of IcedTea-Web were migrated to GitHub. One goal of the migration is to provide an integration for the Java 8 releases of AdoptOpenJDK, and provide JDK vendor independent installers for IcedTea-Web. The integration project is a cooperation between the AdoptOpenJDK community, RedHat, and Karakun AG. The project for the installers is named OpenWebStart and first information can be found here.

4. Progress and Availability

From June 2007, IcedTea was able to build itself and pass a significant portion of Mauve, the GNU Classpath test suite.[26] In May 2008, support was added to IcedTea for running the Sun jtreg regression tests.[27]

IcedTea has become popular among package maintainers for the following Linux distributions. Currently (as of April 2012):

  • IcedTea is the default JVM in Ark Linux[28] and Arch Linux.[29]
  • It can be built and run under Debian.[30] Packages entered unstable on 12 July 2008. As of May 2022, packages icedtea-netx and icedtea-netx-common are available in official Debian repositories for at least Debian 9 through 12.[31]
  • IcedTea[7] was available in Fedora 8 and IcedTea6 appeared in Fedora 9 through to 17 as java-1.6.0-openjdk.[32] A java-1.7.0-openjdk package using the IcedTea 2.x OpenJDK forest, but not its build system, first appeared in Fedora 16.[33]
  • Binary and source packages for IcedTea 3.x are available in Gentoo's official repository. A source package for IcedTea 2.x continues to be maintaining in the Java overlay repository. Installing a Java application by default pulls in IcedTea instead of oracle-jdk because it can be installed without extra work from the user, as users have to manually agree to Oracle's EULA to download the oracle-jdk.
  • IcedTea is available in Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon), from the "universe" repository,[34] and IcedTea6 in 8.04 (Hardy Heron).[35] Starting with Ubuntu 11.04 only IcedTea is available.

5. Architecture

OpenJDK contained approximately (on release in May 2007) 4% encumbered code,[5] which was only packaged as binary plugins. These were required to build and use the JDK. OpenJDK 6 was released with only 1% encumbered code, and the encumbered sound support has also since been replaced. IcedTea6 is based on this release. IcedTea still provides its own web browser plugin and Web Start support, as Sun's implementation remains proprietary.

IcedTea 1.x and 2.x can compile OpenJDK using GNU Classpath-based solutions such as GCJ and optionally bootstraps itself using the HotSpot Java Virtual Machine and the javac Java compiler it just built.[36] For now, building IcedTea 3.x requires using IcedTea 2.x or 3.x, or an OpenJDK 7 or 8 build from another source.

6. Platform Support

Cross-architecture ports of HotSpot (OpenJDK's Virtual Machine) are difficult, because the code contains much assembly language, in addition to the C++ core.[37] The IcedTea project has developed a generic port of the HotSpot interpreter called zero-assembler Hotspot (or zero),[38] with almost no assembly code.[39][40] This port is intended to allow the interpreter part of HotSpot to be very easily adapted to any Linux processor architecture.[41] The code of zero-assembler Hotspot was used for all the non-x86 ports of HotSpot (PPC, IA-64, S390 and ARM) from version 1.6 of IcedTea7.[42][43][44]

The IcedTea project has also developed a platform-independent just-in-time compiler called Shark for HotSpot, using LLVM, to complement Zero.[40][45] This was included in upstream OpenJDK in August 2010.[46] A JIT for ARM32 was first included in 1.6.0[47] and 2.1.1.[48] A native port to AArch64 from Red Hat[49] appeared in 2.4.6[50] and a native PPC64 port from SAP/IBM[51] will be included in 2.5.0.[52] The PPC/AIX port is included upstream in OpenJDK from version 8u20,[53] and the AArch64 port will be included from version 9.[54]


  1. "Open JDK is here!". Sun Microsystems. 2007-05-08. 
  2. See also Java Class Library Licensing
  3. "Sun's OpenJDK FAQ". "Now Sun is open sourcing most of the remaining components of the JDK, with the exception of a few encumbered components that we hope, with the community's help, can be re-implemented so that 100% of the OpenJDK code commons is available as free software... Sun will continue to use that code in commercial releases until it's replaced by fully-functional open-source alternatives" 
  4. Haley, Andrew (2007-06-07). "Experimental Build Repository at". 
  5. Fitzsimmons, Thomas (2007-05-18). "Plans for OpenJDK". 
  6. "Red Hat and Sun Collaborate to Advance Open Source Java Technology". Red Hat. 2007-11-05. 
  7. Phipps, Simon (November 5, 2007). "Red Hat Joins OpenJDK". 
  8. Reinhold, Mark (2007-11-05). "Welcome, Red Hat!". 
  9. Haley, Andrew (May 16, 2008). "Open source project: OpenJDK". 
  10. "Bug ID 6523403: OSS CMM: Need to provide lcms library with PYCC and LINEAR_RGB OS ICC profiles". 
  11. "Bug ID 6604044 java crashes talking to second X screen". 
  12. Sharples, Rich (2008-06-19). "Java is finally Free and Open". 
  13. Haley, Andrew (2009-04-01). "New project: getting rid of IcedTea local patches". 
  14. Wielaard, Mark (2007-06-07). "Experimental Build Repository at". 
  15. Wielaard, Mark (2007-05-30). "OpenJDK6 b10 source posted". 
  16. "Changes in OpenJDK7 b53". 2009-04-02. 
  17. "Gervill: Wiki: Home — Project Kenai". 
  18. Java SE 6 Update 12 Release Notes. Retrieved on 2013-07-18.
  19. Darcy, Joe (2009-06-08). "OpenJDK and the new plugin". 
  20. Hughes, Andrew John (2009-08-21). "Opensource plugin&webstart – when?". 
  21. Bhole, Deepak (2009-08-26). "IcedTea Java plugin with Chromium and Firefox 3.6A1". 
  22. Bhole, Deepak (2011-02-02). "First release of IcedTea-Web!". 
  23. "Where to find the source of the closed-source browser plugin?". 
  24. "Java Client Roadmap Update". March 2018. "Oracle will not include Java Web Start in Java SE 11 (18.9 LTS) and later." 
  25. Adams, George (30 April 2019). "What's up at AdoptOpenJDK". 
  26. Kung, Francis (2007-06-12). "Mauve test run results". 
  27. Wielaard, Mark. "jtreg testing integrated". 
  28. "Ark Linux packages". Ark Linux. 
  29. "JRE and JDK Moved to Community". Arch Linux. 
  30. "Debian Building Instructions". IcedTea Wiki. 
  31. "Debian -- Package Search Results -- icedtea". 
  32. "java-1.6.0-openjdk.git". 
  33. "java-1.7.0-openjdk.git". 
  34. "Ubuntu – Details of icedtea-java7-jre in gutsy". Ubuntu Packages. 
  35. "Ubuntu – Details of package openjdk-6-jre in hardy". Ubuntu Packages. 
  36. Wielaard, Mark (2007-06-07). "IcedTea". 
  37. Benson, Gary (2007-11-06). "Gary's guide to porting IcedTea". 
  38. "Zero-Assembler Project". 
  39. "ZeroSharkFaq". 
  40. Benson, Gary (2008-05-28). "28 May 2008". Red Hat. "Shark is a platform-independent JIT for HotSpot, to complement the zero-assembler interpreter we've been using" 
  41. Benson, Gary (2009-05-21). "Zero and Shark: a Zero-Assembly Port of OpenJDK". "We started an experimental port of OpenJDK without assembly language, using free software libraries to bridge the gaps. This experiment evolved to become the zero-assembly port of OpenJDK – Zero – and its just-in-time compiler Shark." 
  42. Benson, Gary (2008-02-01). "1st February 2008". 
  43. Haley, Andrew (2008-01-31). "Making zero-assembler the default on ppc". 
  44. Angel, Lillian (2008-02-13). "IcedTea 1.6 Released with Zero-assembler and JNLP support!". Red Hat. 
  45. Benson, Gary (2008-03-31). "31 March 2008". Red Hat. 
  46. "6976186: integrate Shark HotSpot changes". 
  47. Haley, Andrew (2009-09-09). "IcedTea6 1.6 Released!". 
  48. Hughes, Andrew (2012-06-13). "[SECURITY IcedTea 2.1.1 & 2.2.1 Released!"]. 
  49. "AArch64 Port Project". 
  50. Hughes, Andrew (2014-03-28). "IcedTea 2.3.14 & 2.4.6: Considered ARMful Released!". 
  51. "OpenJDK PowerPC/AIX Port". 
  52. Hughes, Andrew (2014-01-23). "PPC Port Available in IcedTea 2.x HEAD". 
  53. Simonis, Volker (2015-09-25). "JEP 175: PowerPC/AIX Port". 
  54. Haley, Andrew (2015-12-16). "JEP 237: Linux/AArch64 Port". 
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