Specify 6 software is written in Java and requires software known as the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) to operate. Until the end of January 2019, the Oracle JRE (also referred to as “Java SE”) was available for public use at no cost. At the end of January, Oracle Corp. changed their licensing terms for their Java SE 8 package, requiring most institutional users to pay a fee for usage and for updates.

Individuals can still download and use Oracle SE version 8 for personal use, but commercial users cannot – to include museums that run Specify 6 software on workstations for collections databases. Many universities, agencies, and free-standing museums do not have campus-wide Oracle licenses that entitle them to continue to use and receive updates of the Oracle SE 8 package. As of February 1, 2019, Oracle is entitled to license payments from institutions using Oracle Java SE 8. We know of large universities that are purging campus computers of Oracle Java SE software in order to avoid that financial obligation. Other education and research institutions are likely responding in a similar way.

Most Specify 6 installations currently run with Oracle’s Java SE 8. There are more recent versions of the Oracle Java SE package–SE 9, 10, and 11. Versions 9 and 10 were short-term releases and are no longer supported. Version 11 is Oracle’s the long-term successor to version 8; it currently does not require payment for use and updates, but may in the future. (Specify is compatible with Oracle SE 11.)

Fortunately, Amazon has stepped in to fill the gap created by Oracle’s licensing changes and it has made available a 100% compatible alternative to Oracle Java SE. Amazon “Corretto” (https://aws.amazon.com/corretto/) is a no-cost, multiplatform, production-ready distribution of the Open Java Development Kit (OpenJDK), the same code source from which Oracle produces its Java SE software.

Amazon is offering its Java Corretto package at no cost with free long-term support for security patches and updates.

Long Term Support includes Amazon’s commitment to provide performance enhancements and security updates at no cost until at least the specified date for the relevant release version (e.g., June 2023 for Corretto 8). Updates are planned to be released quarterly. Amazon also plans to apply urgent fixes (including security) outside of the regular quarterly cycle when they are available and ready to use.

After 2023 it is fully expected that Corretto will update to a newer version and that free use and update support will continue indefinitely. Amazon offers Corretto installer packages for each of the free desktop operating systems, Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Institutional and campus IT departments may already have a strategy for this migration–if you enjoy centralized IT systems support, consult with IT staff to know how your institution is responding. There may be other applications on your workstation that have campus licenses to run Oracle Java, before removing Oracle’s Java SE package from desktop computers running Specify you should check with your systems administrators. Because Corretto is designed to be 100% compatible with Oracle’s Java SE package, all existing Windows applications requiring Java should run fine with 32-bit or 64-bit Corretto.

We provide an installation guide for the Amazon Corretto on our website. It is easy to download and install, no specialized computer systems administration expertise is required for self-managed computers. Amazon’s user guide for Corretto is here: https://docs.aws.amazon.com/corretto/latest/corretto-8-ug/corretto-8-ug.pdf