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What exactly is "Long Term Suppport"

 
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Hello. I have been running jvm 11 on Tomcat for about a year. I unzipped the directories from the compressed file from the oracle download site and pointed the server to the jvm. I know 11 is currently the long term supported version (with 17 imminent or about to come out).  I am wondering what exactly long term support means? Are there supposed to be updates running om your current jvm version? I don't think that is the case...I don't think anything messes with your jvm. I jsut don't want to be missing something. Thank you so much.
 
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There is support from Oracle, and support from other sources.

"Long Term Support" means "Long Term Support by Oracle" (which you might actually be asking about).

Non-Long-Term-Support versions get no love from Oracle when the next one comes out, and are intended to be used primarily to prepare for inevitable upgrades and to try out new features.

Regarding Java 11 specifically, this page lists releases of Java 11 you may not have in your environment, and tells what you would be missing:
https://www.oracle.com/java/technologies/javase/11all-relnotes.html
 
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The definition of long term support can change quickly, but it seems that there are two LTS versions available, at present 8 and 11; when 17 comes out, probably in a few weeks, 11 will be three years old and 8 will probably cease to be LTS. And 11 will probably remain LTS until 23 comes out in three more years. But that can change suddenly.
 
Thomas Griffith
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Thank you so much. I guess I'm asking how does support affect our individual workstation/desktop installations? Are there back-end updates going on to the jvm? I don't think so, especially if the jvm was deployed from a downloaded compressed file.
 
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Jesse Silverman wrote:Non-Long-Term-Support versions get no love from Oracle when the next one comes out


Or OpenJDK, for that matter. Adoptium (previously AdoptOpenJDK) has just two patches for every non-LTS version. Maybe other implementations provide longer support for non-LTS versions, but I wouldn't count on it.
 
Jesse Silverman
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I get so many ads for them that I'd consider them spam, except that I have learned so much from Simon Ritter (and so much more to come) I just can't feel that way:
https://www.azul.com/

He has several talks about how if you need more support than the other options provide you, come to Azul...

I don't tend to watch those, normally he's telling me knowledge important to me as a Java developer, but I got the idea that they go Way Beyond in Supporting otherwise unsupported versions.
 
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This is common practice these days. People programming for the fun of it want the latest and greatest. Large IT shops want stability - minimal change. Since when you have hundreds of specialized systems, you cannot afford to keep tweaking them every week or two. Or even every year or two. And you definitely don't want a mish-mash of different system versions running all at the same time.

So to satisfy both audiences, we have STS and LTS releases. A LTS release carries a guarantee from the vendor that whatever breaks, needs a security fix, or whatever will be supplied for that product release for an extended period of time - say 5 years, 10 years, or even more. STS releases will only get support for a smaller period of time, typically maybe 2 or 3 STS releases getting active maintenance at any given time and new STS versions may come out every 6 months ro 2 years.

It's important to realize that a version may consist of a great many components and that before release, as many of these components have been tested both stand-alone and - where applicable - in conjunction with related components, thus giving a reliable whole. That's why LTS is important. Only maintenance is done once a release is finalized, nothing may be added, and in general, no major program upgrades (if it's an OS package) are done.

Java, of course, is designed to be resitant to breakage from changes. But not everything else is and changes internal to a JVM to fix security issues or bugs mean that even JVMs can benefit from having LTS versions.
 
Jesse Silverman
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Tim -- I think OP had two independent questions, one of which we both answered, yours was quite excellent.

One is the definition of LTS vs. other versions, which is somewhat conceptual and both a definition and a "Why?" question.

Not in the title, but something they wanted to know if I re-read it correctly, is "We have all seen automatic updates running against an installed Java version somewhere (I believe that JVM version is accidentally overly specific but I am not sure), under what circumstances do these automatic updates run, and how can I tell if they are being applied to a particular Java installation somewhere?  I think mine is not configured in such a way, but am not sure."

I presumed the answer was "No" and gave a link to a list of the updates to JDK 11 that he would be missing in that case, for his evaluation.

The question about "In which cases are updates automatically applied and how can I tell?" I was less certain of, and left for someone else to answer.
 
Tim Holloway
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I have never seen an automatic update run against a JVM, and would be quite put off if it was. I've always fetched and installed them manually, including the mandatory checkbox that requires me to assert that I will agree to the terms and conditions for each download.

Well, let me qualify that. That's when I am using an Sun/Oracle or IBM JVM. The open-source Java that now comes as an installable OS package may get sucked in when I do a system update. Although paranoid person that I am, I don't let updates run automatically and always review what's being updated before giving the go-ahead and have been known to hold back specific products if I feeel the need.

I should note that on Red Hat-style OS's, an "update" doesn't patch a JVM. Each minor JVM release is installed complete and independent of the others, and the closest thing to an "automatic update" is that when installing via RPM, the /usr/java/latest path alias may get retargeted by the package manager.

If you are getting licensed patches from a vendor like Oracle, that's different. but my employers have always been too cheap for that. We only dealt with public releases, whether STR or LTR.
 
Thomas Griffith
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Thanks so much, guys. Yeah, I was kinda aware of the LTR/STR distinction and schedule (found out the hard way after a security scan zing while running jvm 9) but was wondering if "support", whether long or short, meant that oracle was shooting periodic updates to your jvm during it's support life (I couldn't see how possible, especially with a compressed zip installation)...or what action or verb on oracle's part, if any, "support" encompasses. It looks as though it's a manual thing to go and upgrade point releases within an LTS version and the LTS thing is an assurance (to security scans) that your jvm is the latest stable?
 
Tim Holloway
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That's the way I've always taken it. As I said, I work for cheap employers, so the idea of a hot-fix for a JVM isn't up for discussion.

It's not just about security, though. I've had to jump forwards or backwards a release because a particular JVM bug might be crashing our production webserver, for example. A LTS release means that we don't have to worry about anything major changing beyond the bug (and possible security issues).
 
Tim Holloway
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Historical note.

Back in my mainframe days we had APARS (Authorized Problem Reports) and PTFs (Program Temporary fixes, cynically known as "Permanent Temporary Fixes".. APARs were basically "we have a problem, we sent it to IBM, they send us patches in the hope that it doesn't make things worse. PTFs were more in the line of "other people had a problem", you might have it too, so here's a pre-emptive fix (The redundant word "pro-active" hadn't been invented yet).

If IBM really loved you, they might come out and install the patch themselves (obviously also before support became a phone call to Chennai), but usually it came in the mail on magnetic tape (pre-Internet). So even then, the idea of software patching itself without permission wasn't standard practice.

The only vendor I actually recall ramming changes down people's throats without permission has been Microsoft, And business customers often opt out on that. We have enough problems without self-bricking machines or updates while we're running the quartely budget.
 
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