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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Wed, 28 Dec 2011

I replace sun-java6 with openjdk-6 in Debian Squeeze, everything still works

When I did my initial tests on this Debian Squeeze installation back in 2010, I had trouble with OpenJDK. I only use Java for two web-based things, and one of those -- GoToMyPC.com -- wouldn't successfully open up a Java client window.

So I replaced openjdk-6 with sun-java6, found everything working and left it at that.

Now that Oracle is changing the license for Java that restricts the ability of Linux distributions -- including Debian and Ubuntu -- to redistribute the Oracle-created binaries to users, distributions are removing Sun Java from their archives and only offering OpenJDK.

I was worried. It had been many months since my last tests. What if either OpenJDK itself, or the sites I'm dealing with that use Java, fixed things so the open-source IcedTea Java browser package suddenly worked?

I didn't want to delete Sun Java, install OpenJDK, run into trouble and not be able to re-install Sun Java. I also didn't want to run a Sun Java setup with security vulnerabilities that wouldn't be fixed.

I needed to figure out if OpenJDK/IcedTea would play along with GoToMyPC.com, which my company prefers over LogMeIn, the latter of which I like much better in case you were wondering.

Here's how I did it:

I already had a live image of Fedora 16 on a bootable USB stick. I booted into Fedora, opened the Add/Remove Software application, searched for Icedtea and installed that and its dependencies, meaning the rest of OpenJDK.

I restarted the Firefox browser, went to GoToMyPC.com and logged in. The Java window opened, and I was on my remote desktop.

IcedTea worked in Fedora 16, and I felt pretty good about getting rid of sun-java6-jre and sun-java6-plugin in Debian and replacing it with openjdk-6-jre and icedtea6-plugin.

I booted back into Debian and did just that. I then started the browser (Iceweasel/Firefox 9.0.1, which just rolled in from the Mozilla Debian APT Archive), went to GoToMyPC.com and logged in.

Now running IcedTea and OpenJDK, the Java window opened, and I had my remote desktop.

My need for Java is extremely limited, and now that I can use OpenJDK/IcedTea instead of the Sun/Oracle Java binaries, I'm breathing a lot easier about my ability to get my work done now and in the future.