JDK 7u2 released - How about Linux and other operating systems?

Last week, Oracle released Java 7 Update 2, another milestone. This release included, of course, all the fixes that were already in Update 1 (see also Oracle's page), especially those affecting Apache Lucene and Solr. Since my last post on this blog, I was investigating what changed and how other operating systems like Ubuntu/Redhat Linux and FreeBSD are supported (warning: sarcasm alert!)


First of all, you can of course download the official Linux packages from Oracle. But those are not automatically updated when a new release comes out. So most Linux users prefer to use the automatic update of their operating system. Unfortunately, at the beginning of this month, Ubuntu wrote in an announcement:
As of August 24th 2011, we no longer have permission to redistribute new Java packages as Oracle has retired the "Operating System Distributor License for Java".
Oracle has published an advisory about security issues in the version of Java we currently have in the partner archive. Some of these issues are currently being exploited in the wild. Due to the severity of the security risk, Canonical is immediately releasing a security update for the Sun JDK browser plugin which will disable the plugin on all machines. This will mitigate users' risk from malicious websites exploiting the vulnerable version of the Sun JDK.
In the near future (exact date TBD), Canonical will remove all Sun JDK packages from the Partner archive. This will be accomplished by pushing empty packages to the archive, so that the Sun JDK will be removed from all users machines when they do a software update. Users of these packages who have not migrated to an alternative solution will experience failures after the package updates have removed Oracle Java from the system.
If you are currently using the Oracle Java packages from the partner archive, you have two options: 
  • Install the OpenJDK packages that are provided in the main Ubuntu archive (openjdk-6-jdk or openjdk-6-jre for the virtual machine).
  • Manually install Oracle's Java software from their web site.
Unfortunately this means that we will never get an official Ubuntu package for Java 7! What are all these security bugs suddenly heavily exploited in the wild?

OK, the latest version of Ubuntu's JDK 6 was Update 26, so what security fixes came in Update 27, Update 29, and Update 30? I inspected the changelogs shipped with the openjdk6 and openjdk7 packages, which are now the "official Java support" for Ubuntu (and also Redhat) but there is something wrong: It's not even OpenJDK! OpenJDK is still on build 147 (as of their official download page) - which is the original Java 7 release that broke Apache Lucene and Apache Solr with index corru(m)ptions and SIGSEGVs. This means no Linux user can run our full text search engine on Linux, because it SIGSEGVs shortly after starting? But thats not what the Ubuntu package contains: What Ubuntu "sells" as OpenJDK is indeed a strange product named "IcedTea" - wtf is that?

IcedTea 2.0 was released on October 19, 2011 with a long ist of security fixes! But the ubuntu download still has the famous build number 147 in its version number: 7~b147-2.0-1ubuntu2 - how does this fit together? Redhat and Ubuntu both sell another product "IcedTea", but labeled as "OpenJDK"! As this is so widely used, this seems to lead to the fact that Oracle does not seem to update their original OpenJDK release anymore. The IcedCreamTea seems to be the "new" offical release? What about all non-Linux operating systems like FreeBSD (see below)? I think that's a bad idea, because it confuses users. Also, when reviewing fixed bugs in official Oracle releases you get an update number (current is Java 6u30 or Java 7u2), but with OpenJDK (sorry IcedTea) Linux packages you get version numbers that don't tell you any relation to Oracle's releases - useless!

In fact to come back to OpenJDK 6 package in Ubuntu: If you install this replacement package on your machine according to the howto on the Ubuntu webpage for the good sun-java6 package (which is u26) - you get an older hotspot version (hotspot version numbers are the only things that you can read and compare from "java -version" output)! Something around official Oracle JDK 6u24 - so in fact you get an older version - that's no upgrade, that's a downgrade! For OpenJDK 7 you get something like Oracle's JDK 7u0 but with thousands of patches applied.

To come back to the Lucene/Solr bugs: Yes, they are fixed in this mysterious OpenJDK/IcedTea 7 release, the long list of changes verifies that. If you download the wrong-named OpenJDK 7 package with the horrible build number 147 (openjdk-7-jdk 7~b147-2.0-1ubuntu2), you will not crash your JVM with Apache Solr and you can try it out with the new garbage collector (G1) and some performance improvements (indeed Lucene tests run faster with Java 7 on my box). It looks very stable.

The second shock on this day occurred when I was searching for the famous Lucene bugs in the list of fixed IcedTea issues. They appear there as one of the horrible security bugs with CVE numbers assigned (CVE-2011-3558and others)! This also explains why Oracle made the orginal porter stemmer bug report hidden! They also appear in the openjdk-6 Ubuntu packages - as horrible security bugs, too. So Ubuntu patched the antique 6u24 and older versions with patches for Java 6u29 [they also patched u20, where the bug was not existent, see here] - thats really strange. And again, confuses users!

And finally: The Lucene bugs seem to be one of the reasons to delete the sun-java6 packages from Ubuntu Partner repository in the future. How funny is this? Does anybody have an exploit except starting Apache Solr with the default configuration and -XX:+AggressiveOpts enabled? OK, it is really a security issue for users working on your Solr Search web frontend and suddenly produce corru(m)pt indexes on your machine! They might not find anything after this disaster.


What about FreeBSD? It looks much worse: There is no new update for OpenJDK available until today, so you cannot use it to build a new Port. The Jenkins Server at Apache, running the Lucene tests, is still running the original OpenJDK7 b147 build that I patched during the summer to work around the Java 7 bugs. I think the problem is here, that Oracle no longer releases OpenJDK builds, because IcedTea is there. But IcedTea is Linux only!

Please note: This blog post is partially a little bit sarcastic, I just tell my feelings about the whole Linux-Ubuntu-OpenJDK-FreeBSD issue.

A short side note: PANGAEA now runs very stable and horrible fast for some operations with Lucene 3.5 (no Apache Solr) and official Oracle JDK 7u2 on Solaris x64 (MMapDirectory of course)! I wish you merry Xmas and a happy new year!


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