• Author:
      Kevin Rushforth
    • JEP Type:
    • Exposure:
    • Subcomponent:
    • Scope:
    • Discussion:
      core dash libs dash dev at openjdk dot java dot net
    • Effort:
    • Duration:
    • JEP Number:



      Create a new tool for packaging self-contained Java applications.


      Create a simple packaging tool, based on the JavaFX javapackager tool, that:

      • Supports native packaging formats to give the end user a natural installation experience. These formats include msi and exe on Windows, pkg and app on macOS, and deb and rpm on Linux.
      • Allows launch-time parameters to be specified at packaging time.
      • Can be invoked directly, from the command line, or programmatically, via the ToolProvider API.


      • The following features of the javapackager tool will not be supported:
        • Java Web Start application support,
        • JavaFX-specific features,
        • jdeps usage for determining required modules, and
        • the Ant plugin.
      • There will be no GUI for the tool. A command-line interface (CLI) is sufficient.
      • There will be no support for cross compilation. For example, in order to create Windows packages one must run the tool on Windows. The tool can depend upon platform-specific tools.
      • There will be no special support for legal files beyond what is already provided in JMOD files (e.g., no aggregation of individual license files).
      • There will be no native splash screen support.
      • There will be no auto-update mechanism.


      Many Java applications need to be installed on a native platform in a first-class way, rather than simply being placed on the class path or the module path. It is not sufficient for the application developer to deliver a simple JAR file; they must deliver an installable package suitable for the native platform. This allows Java applications to be distributed, installed, and uninstalled in a manner that is familiar to users of that platform. For example, on Windows users expect to be able to double-click on an installer to install their software, and then use the control panel to remove the software; on macOS users expect to be able to double-click on a DMG file and drag their application to the Application folder. Applications installed as service daemons, moreover, may require registering the service with the operating system.

      There is also a need for a tool that can package the JDK itself for installation on a target system. Absent such a tool, JDK images are only published in the tar.gz zip formats.

      A packaging tool can also help fill gaps left by other technologies such as Java Web Start, which was removed from Oracle’s JDK 11, and pack200, which was deprecated in JDK 11 for removal in a future release. Developers can use jlink to strip the JDK down to the minimal set of modules that are needed, and then use the packaging tool to produce a compressed, installable image that can be deployed to target machines.

      To address these requirements previously, a packaging tool called javapackager was distributed with Oracle’s JDK 8. However, it was removed from Oracle’s JDK 11 in connection with the removal of JavaFX.


      The jpackager tool will take as input a Java application and a Java run-time image, and produce a Java application image that includes all the necessary dependencies. It will also be able to produce a native package in a platform-specific format, such as an exe on Windows or a dmg on macOS. The tool will have options that allow packaged applications to be customized in various ways.


      The tool will provide the following features:

      • Creation of an application image

      • Support for native packaging formats to give the end user a more natural installation experience. Specifically, the tool will support the following formats:

        • Windows: msi, exe
        • macOS: pkg in a dmg, app in a dmg (drag the app into the Applications directory)
        • Linux: deb, rpm

        The application will be installed in the typical default directory for each platform unless the end-user specifies an alternate directory during the installation process (for example, on Linux the default directory will be /usr/bin).

      • Support for packaging Java applications such that they are suitable for submission to the Windows or macOS app stores

      • The ability to specify JDK and application arguments at packaging time that will be used when launching the application

      • The ability to package applications in ways that integrate into the native platform, for example:

        • Setting file associations to allow launching an application when a file with an associated suffix is opened
        • Launching from a platform-specific menu group, such as Start menu items on Windows
        • Option to specify update rules for installable packages (such as in rpm/deb)
      • A --dry-run option to generate native packaging commands, without executing them, that developers can use as a starting point for addressing more complex needs. This could help developers that may want to add additional parameters to the native packaging commands or to package in formats not supported directly by the tool.

      The following features will be included if there is time:

      • Service bundler support to enable launching applications as services or daemons

      • Support for single vs. multiple instances, so that multiple instances of the application can be prevented from launching

      • Multiple launchers, to enable a suite of applications to be delivered in a single self-contained application package

      • API for configuring JDK and Application arguments

      Running the tool

      The input to jpackager includes: a Java run-time image, a Java application in one of several formats, and various command line options to control the generation of the final image or package.

      The following types of applications are supported:

      • Modular applications that have been jlinked into a custom run-time image
      • Modular applications that are in (one or more) modular jar files or jmod files
      • Legacy applications that run on the class path, and are in (one or more) jar files

      If no custom run-time image is provided then the tool will run jlink to create a JDK for the application.

      The output of jpackager is a Java application image that includes all necessary Java dependencies. The image is stored in a single directory in the filesystem and can include the following:

      • Native application launcher (generated by the tool)
      • Java run-time image (including the application modules, if the app has been modularized)
      • Application resources (e.g., jar, icns, ico, png)
      • Configuration files (e.g., plist, cfg, properties)

      As an example, the image format for a HelloWorld application might look like this:

          HelloWorld.exe     [this is the native launcher]
            [application resource, configuration, and support files go here]
            [custom Java runtime image goes here]

      When the application is started, the launcher will read the configuration files and launch the embedded Java run-time image with the specified arguments.

      The application image can be redistributed as-is, or it can be packaged as a native, installable package (for example, in msi or dmg format).

      In this latter case, the tool can either create a native package from a previously created application image, or it can create a native package directly. The native package will include the following:

      • The application image as defined above
      • Support for signing packages
      • Package post-processing steps such as setting up file associations

      Delivering jpackager

      The jpackager tool will be delivered as part of the JDK in a new jdk.packager module. This tool will be based on the javapackager tool, with all features related to Java Web Start and JavaFX removed. The command-line interface (CLI) will conform to JEP 293: Guidelines for JDK Command-Line Tool Options. In addition to the command-line interface, jpackager will be accessible via the ToolProvider API (java.util.spi.ToolProvider) under the name "jpackager".

      Some features, such as the single-instance launcher, might require a run-time API that an application can call. If so, we will provide a run-time module with the necessary API.


      We need to specify the layout of an application image and define what is supported versus unsupported, to make it clear for developers what they should or should not depend on, for example, the location of the application launcher, any user-editable configuration files, and so forth.

      We should include some command-line examples and describe the content of the run-time image produced.


      Most tests can be done with automated scripts, but there are a few considerations to be aware of:

      • Testing the native installers may require optional tools to be installed; those tests will need to be written such that they are skipped on systems without the necessary tools.

      • Verifying some types of native packages (e.g., exe on Windows or app in a dmg on macOS) may require some manual testing.

      • We need to ensure that native packages can be installed and uninstalled cleanly, so that developers can test in their local environment without fear of polluting their system.


      Native packages will be generated using tools on the target platform. For Windows, there are two additional tools that developers will need to install if they want to generate native packages:

      • exe — Inno Setup, a third-party tool, is required to generate exe installers
      • msi — Wix, a third-party tool, is required to generate msi installers

      There are efforts underway to enhance jlink to generate native launchers. Some level of coordination may be needed between jlink and jpackager.


          Issue Links



              • Assignee:
                herrick Andy Herrick
                vdrozdov Victor Drozdov (Inactive)
                Kevin Rushforth
                Reviewed By:
                Alexander Matveev, Alexey Semenyuk, Andy Herrick, Kevin Rushforth, William Harnois
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                4 Vote for this issue
                24 Start watching this issue


                • Due: