JDK-8061971 : JEP 220: Modular Run-Time Images
  • Type: JEP
  • Component: not defined
  • Priority: P1
  • Status: Closed
  • Resolution: Delivered
  • Fix Versions: 9
  • Submitted: 2014-10-23
  • Updated: 2017-09-22
  • Resolved: 2017-09-21
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Restructure the JDK and JRE run-time images to accommodate modules and to
improve performance, security, and maintainability.  Define a new URI
scheme for naming the modules, classes, and resources stored in a
run-time image without revealing the internal structure or format of the
image.  Revise existing specifications as required to accommodate these


  - Adopt a run-time format for stored class and resource files that:

    - Is more time- and space-efficient than the legacy JAR format, which
      in turn is based upon the ancient ZIP format;

    - Can locate and load class and resource files on a per-module basis;

    - Can store class and resource files from JDK modules and from
      library and application modules; and

    - Can be extended to accommodate additional kinds of data going
      forward, such as precomputed JVM data structures and precompiled
      native code for Java classes.

  - Restructure the JDK and JRE run-time images to draw a clear
    distinction between files that developers, deployers, and end-users
    can rely upon and, when appropriate, modify, in contrast to files
    that are internal to the implementation and subject to change without

  - Provide supported ways to perform common operations such as, _e.g._,
    enumerating all of the classes present in an image, which today
    require inspecting the internal structure of a run-time image.

  - Enable the selective _de-privileging_ of JDK classes that today are
    granted all security permissions but do not actually require those

  - Preserve the existing behavior of well-behaved applications, _i.e._,
    applications that do not depend upon internal aspects of JRE and JDK
    run-time images.

Success Metrics

Modular run-time images equivalent to the JRE, JDK, and
[Compact Profile][jep161] images of the immediately-preceding JDK 9 build
must not regress on a representative set of startup, static footprint,
and dynamic footprint benchmarks.

[jep161]: http://openjdk.java.net/jeps/161


  - It is not a goal to preserve all aspects of the current run-time
    image structure.

  - It is not a goal to preserve the exact current behavior of all
    existing APIs.


[Project Jigsaw][jig] aims to design and implement a standard module
system for the Java SE Platform and to apply that system to the
Platform itself, and to the JDK.  Its primary goals are to make
implementations of the Platform more easily scalable down to small
devices, improve the security and maintainability, enable improved
application performance, and provide developers with better tools for
programming in the large.

This JEP is the third of four JEPs for Project Jigsaw.  The earlier
[JEP 200][jep200] defines the structure of the modular JDK, and
[JEP 201][jep201] reorganizes the JDK source code into modules.  A later
JEP, [261][jep261], introduces the actual module system.

[jig]: http://openjdk.java.net/projects/jigsaw/
[jep200]: http://openjdk.java.net/jeps/200
[jep201]: http://openjdk.java.net/jeps/201
[jep261]: http://openjdk.java.net/jeps/261


### Current run-time image structure

The JDK build system presently produces two types of run-time images: A
Java Runtime Environment (JRE), which is a complete implementation of the
Java SE Platform, and a Java Development Kit (JDK), which embeds a
JRE and includes development tools and libraries.  (The three
[Compact Profile][jep161] builds are subsets of the JRE.)

The root directory of a JRE image contains two directories, `bin` and
`lib`, with the following content:

  - The `bin` directory contains essential executable binaries, and in
    particular the `java` command for launching the run-time system.  (On
    the Windows operating system it also contains the run-time system's
    dynamically-linked native libraries.)

  - The `lib` directory contains a variety of files and subdirectories:

    - Various `.properties` and `.policy` files, most of which may be,
      though rarely are, edited by developers, deployers, and end users;

    - The `endorsed` directory, which does not exist by default, into
      which JAR files containing implementations of
      [endorsed standards and standalone technologies][esom] may be

    - The `ext` directory, into which JAR files containing
      [extensions or optional packages][ext] may be placed;

    - Various implementation-internal data files in assorted binary
      formats, _e.g._, fonts, color profiles, and time-zone data;

    - Various JAR files, including `rt.jar`, which contain the run-time
      system's Java class and resource files.

    - The run-time system's dynamically-linked native libraries on the
      Linux, macOS, and Solaris operating systems.

A JDK image includes a copy of the JRE in its `jre` subdirectory and
contains additional subdirectories:

  - The `bin` directory contains command-line development and debugging
    tools, _e.g._, `javac`, `javadoc`, and `jconsole`, along with
    duplicates of the binaries in the `jre/bin` directory for

  - The `demo` and `sample` directories contain demonstration programs
    and sample code, respectively;

  - The `man` directory contains UNIX-style manual pages;

  - The `include` directory contains C/C++ header files for use when
    compiling native code that interfaces directly with the run-time
    system; and

  - The `lib` directory contains various JAR files and other types of
    files comprising the implementations of the JDK's tools, among them
    `tools.jar`, which contains the classes of the `javac` compiler.

The root directory of a JDK image, or of a JRE image that is not embedded
in a JDK image, also contains various `COPYRIGHT`, `LICENSE` and `README`
files and also a `release` file that describes the image in terms of
simple key/value property pairs, _e.g._,


### New run-time image structure

The present distinction between JRE and JDK images is purely historical,
a consequence of an implementation decision made late in the development
of the JDK 1.2 release and never revisited.  The new image structure
eliminates this distinction: A JDK image is simply a run-time image that
happens to contain the full set of development tools and other items
historically found in the JDK.

A modular run-time image contains the following directories:

  - The `bin` directory contains any command-line launchers defined by
    the modules linked into the image.  (On Windows it continues to
    contain the run-time system's dynamically-linked native libraries.)

  - The `conf` directory contains the `.properties`, `.policy`, and other
    kinds of files intended to be edited by developers, deployers, and
    end users, which were formerly found in the `lib` directory or
    subdirectories thereof.

  - The `lib` directory on Linux, macOS, and Solaris contains the
    run-time system's dynamically-linked native libraries, as it does
    today.  These files, named `libjvm.so` or `libjvm.dylib`, may be
    linked against by programs that embed the run-time system.  A few
    other files in this directory are also intended for external use,
    including `src.zip` and `jexec`.

  - All other files and directories in the `lib` directory must be
    treated as private implementation details of the run-time system.
    They are not intended for external use and their names, format, and
    content are subject to change without notice.

  - The `legal` directory contains the legal notices for the modules
    linked into the image, grouped into one subdirectory per module.

  - A full JDK image contains, additionally, the `demo`, `man`, and
    `include` directories, as it does today.  (The `samples` directory
    was removed by [JEP 298](http://openjdk.java.net/jeps/298).)

The root directory of a modular run-time image also contains the
`release` file, which is generated by the build system.  To make it easy
to tell which modules are present in a run-time image the `release` file
includes a new property, `MODULES`, which is a space-separated list of
the names of those modules.  The list is topologically ordered according
to the modules' dependence relationships, so the `java.base` module is
always first.

### Removed: The endorsed-standards override mechanism

The [endorsed-standards override mechanism][esom] allowed implementations
of newer versions of standards maintained outside of the Java Community
Process, or of standalone APIs that are part of the Java SE Platform
yet continue to evolve independently, to be installed into a run-time

The endorsed-standards mechanism was defined in terms of a path-like
system property, `java.endorsed.dirs`, and a default value for that
property, `$JAVA_HOME/lib/endorsed`.  A JAR file containing a newer
implementation of an endorsed standard or standalone API can be installed
into a run-time image by placing it in one of the directories named by
the system property, or by placing it in the default `lib/endorsed`
directory if the system property is not defined.  Such JAR files are
prepended to the JVM's bootstrap class path at run time, thereby
overriding any definitions stored in the run-time system itself.

A modular image is composed of modules rather than JAR files.  Going
forward, endorsed standards and standalone APIs are supported in modular
form only, via the concept of [_upgradeable modules_][upmod].  We have
therefore removed the endorsed-standards override mechanism, including
the `java.endorsed.dirs` system property and the `lib/endorsed`
directory.  To help identify any existing uses of this mechanism the
compiler and the launcher now fail if this system property is set, or if
the `lib/endorsed` directory exists.

[esom]: http://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/technotes/guides/standards/index.html
[upmod]: http://openjdk.java.net/projects/jigsaw/goals-reqs/03#upgradeable-modules

### Removed: The extension mechanism

The [extension mechanism][ext] allowed JAR files containing APIs that
extend the Java SE Platform to be installed into a run-time image so
that their contents are visible to every application that is compiled
with or runs on that image.

The [mechanism was defined][ext-arch] in terms of a path-like system
property, `java.ext.dirs`, and a default value for that property composed
of `$JAVA_HOME/lib/ext` and a platform-specific system-wide directory
(_e.g_, `/usr/java/packages/lib/ext` on Linux).  It worked in much the
same manner as the endorsed-standards mechanism except that JAR files
placed in an extension directory were loaded by the run-time
environment's _extension class loader_, which is a child of the bootstrap
class loader and the parent of the [_system class loader_][syscl], which
actually loads the application to be run from the class path.  Extension
classes therefore could not override the JDK classes loaded by the
bootstrap loader but they were loaded in preference to classes defined by
the system loader and its descendants.

The extension mechanism was introduced in JDK 1.2, which was
released in 1998, but in modern times we have seen little evidence of its
use.  This is not surprising, since most Java applications today place
the libraries that they need directly on the class path rather than
require that those libraries be installed as extensions of the run-time

It is technically possible, though awkward, to continue to support the
extension mechanism in the modular JDK.  To simplify both the
Java SE Platform and the JDK we have removed the extension
mechanism, including the `java.ext.dirs` system property and the
`lib/ext` directory.  To help identify any existing uses of this
mechanism the compiler and the launcher now fail if this system property
is set, or if the `lib/ext` directory exists.  The compiler and the
launcher ignore the platform-specific system-wide extension directory by
default, but if the `-XX:+CheckEndorsedAndExtDirs` command-line option is
specified then they fail if that directory exists and is not empty.

Several features associated with the extension mechanism were retained,
since they are useful in their own right:

  - The `Class-Path` manifest attribute, which specifies JAR files
    required by another JAR file;

  - The `{Specification,Implementation}-{Title,Version,Vendor}` manifest
    attributes, which specify package and JAR-file version information;

  - The `Sealed` manifest attribute, which seals a package or a JAR
    file; and

  - The extension class loader itself, though it is now known as the
    [_platform_ class loader][loaders].

[ext]: http://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/technotes/guides/extensions/index.html
[ext-arch]: http://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/technotes/guides/extensions/spec.html
[syscl]: http://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/api/java/lang/ClassLoader.html#getSystemClassLoader--
[loaders]: http://openjdk.java.net/jeps/261#Class-loaders

### Removed: `rt.jar` and `tools.jar`

The class and resource files previously stored in `lib/rt.jar`,
`lib/tools.jar`, `lib/dt.jar`, and various other internal JAR files are
now stored in a more efficient format in implementation-specific files in
the `lib` directory.  The format of these files is not specified and is
subject to change without notice.

The removal of `rt.jar` and similar files leads to three distinct

  1. Existing standard APIs such as the
     [`ClassLoader::getSystemResource`][cl.gsr] method return
     [`URL`][jn.url] objects to name class and resource files inside the
     run-time image.  For example, when run on JDK 8 the code


     returns a `jar` URL of the form


     which, as can be seen, embeds a `file` URL to name the actual JAR
     file within the run-time image.  The [`getContent`][jn.url.gc]
     method of that `URL` object can be used to retrieve the content of
     the class file, via the built-in protocol handler for the `jar` URL

     A modular image does not contain any JAR files, so URLs of the
     above form make no sense.  The specifications of `getSystemResource`
     and related methods, fortunately, do not require the `URL` objects
     returned by these methods actually to use the JAR scheme.  They
     do, however, require that it be possible to load the content of a
     stored class or resource file via these `URL` objects.

  2. The [`java.security.CodeSource`][js.cs] API and
     [security-policy files][spf] use URLs to name the locations of code
     bases that are to be granted specified permissions.  Components of
     the run-time system that require specific permissions are currently
     identified in the `lib/security/java.policy` file via `file` URLs.
     The elliptic-curve cryptography provider, _e.g._, is identified as


     which, obviously, has no meaning in a modular image.

  3. IDEs and other kinds of development tools require the ability to
     enumerate the class and resource files stored in a run-time image,
     and to read their contents.  Today they often do this directly by
     opening and reading `rt.jar` and similar files.  This is, of course,
     not possible with a modular image.

[cl.gsr]: http://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/api/java/lang/ClassLoader.html#getSystemResource-java.lang.String-
[jn.url]: http://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/api/java/net/URL.html
[jn.url.gc]: http://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/api/java/net/URL.html#getContent--
[js.cs]: http://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/api/java/security/CodeSource.html
[spf]: http://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/technotes/guides/security/PolicyFiles.html#FileSyntax

### New URI scheme for naming stored modules, classes, and resources

To address the above three problems a new URL scheme, `jrt`, can be used
to name the modules, classes, and resources stored in a run-time image
without revealing the internal structure or format of the image.

A `jrt` URL is a hierarchical URI, per [RFC 3986][rfc3986], with the


where `$MODULE` is an optional module name and `$PATH`, if present, is
the path to a specific class or resource file within that module.  The
meaning of a `jrt` URL depends upon its structure:

  - `jrt:/$MODULE/$PATH` refers to the specific class or resource file
    named `$PATH` within the given `$MODULE`.

  - `jrt:/$MODULE` refers to all of the class and resource files in the
    module `$MODULE`.

  - `jrt:/` refers to the entire collection of class and resource files
    stored in the current run-time image.

These three forms of `jrt` URLs address the above problems as follows:

  1. APIs that presently return `jar` URLs now return `jrt` URLs.  The
     above invocation of `ClassLoader::getSystemResource`, _e.g._, now
     returns the URL


     A built-in protocol handler for the `jrt` scheme ensures that the
     `getContent` method of such `URL` objects retrieves the content of
     the named class or resource file.

  2. Security-policy files and other uses of the `CodeSource` API can use
     `jrt` URLs to name specific modules for the purpose of granting
     permissions.  The elliptic-curve cryptography provider, _e.g._, can
     now be identified by the `jrt` URL


     Other modules that are currently granted all permissions but do not
     actually require them can trivially be de-privileged, _i.e._, given
     precisely the permissions they require.

  3. A built-in [NIO FileSystem provider][nio.fsp] for the `jrt` URL
     scheme ensures that development tools can enumerate and read the
     class and resource files in a run-time image by loading the
     [FileSystem][nio.fs] named by the URL `jrt:/`, as follows:

         FileSystem fs = FileSystems.getFileSystem(URI.create("jrt:/"));
         byte[] jlo = Files.readAllBytes(fs.getPath("modules", "java.base",

     The top-level `modules` directory in this filesystem contains one
     subdirectory for each module in the image.  The top-level `packages`
     directory contains one subdirectory for each package in the image,
     and that subdirectory contains a symbolic link to the subdirectory
     for the module that defines that package.

     For tools that support the development of code for JDK 9 but
     which themselves run on JDK 8, a copy of this filesystem
     provider suitable for use on JDK 8 is placed in the `lib`
     directory of JDK 9 run-time images, in a file named

(The `jrt` URL protocol handler does not return any content for URLs of
the second and third forms.)

[rfc3986]: http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc3986
[nio.fsp]: http://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/api/java/nio/file/spi/FileSystemProvider.html
[nio.fs]: http://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/api/java/nio/file/FileSystem.html

### Build-system changes

The build system produces the new run-time image format described above,
using the Java linker ([JEP 282][jep282]).

We took the opportunity here, finally, to rename the `images/j2sdk-image`
and `images/j2re-image` directories to `images/jdk` and `images/jre`,

[jep282]: http://openjdk.java.net/jeps/282

### Minor specification changes

[JEP 162][jep162], implemented in JDK 8, made a number of changes to
prepare the Java SE Platform and the JDK for the modularization work
described here and in related JEPs.  Among those changes were the removal
of normative specification statements that require certain configuration
files to be looked up in the `lib` directory of run-time images, since
those files are now in the `conf` directory.  Most of the SE-only APIs
with such statements were so revised as part of Java SE 8, but
some APIs shared across the Java SE and EE Platforms still contain
such statements:

  - `javax.xml.stream.XMLInputFactory` specifies
    `${java.home}/lib/stax.properties` ([JSR 173][jsr173]).

  - `javax.xml.ws.spi.Provider` specifies
    `${java.home}/lib/jaxws.properties` ([JSR 224][jsr224]).

  - `javax.xml.soap.MessageFactory`, and related classes, specify
    `${java.home}/lib/jaxm.properties` ([JSR 67][jsr67]).

In Java SE 9, these statements no longer mandate the `lib` directory.

[jep162]: http://openjdk.java.net/jeps/162
[jsr173]: https://jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=173
[jsr224]: https://jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=224
[jsr67]: https://jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=67
[jsr925]: https://jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=925


Some existing tests made direct use of run-time image internals (_e.g._,
`rt.jar`) or refer to system properties (_e.g._, `java.ext.dirs`) that no
longer exist.  These tests have been fixed.

Early-access builds containing the changes described here were available
throughout the development of the module system.  Members of the Java
community were strongly encouraged to test their tools, libraries, and
applications against these builds to help identify compatibility issues.

Risks and Assumptions

<a id="risks">The central risks of this proposal are ones of
compatibility, summarized as follows:</a>

  - A JDK image no longer contains a `jre` subdirectory, as noted above.
    Existing code that assumes the existence of that directory might not
    work correctly.

  - JDK and JRE images no longer contain the files `lib/rt.jar`,
    `lib/tools.jar`, `lib/dt.jar`, and other internal JAR files, as
    noted above.  Existing code that assumes the existence of these files
    might not work correctly.

  - The system properties `java.endorsed.dirs` and `java.ext.dirs` are no
    longer defined, as noted above.  Existing code that assumes these
    properties to have non-`null` values might not work correctly.

  - The run-time system's dynamically-linked native libraries are always
    in the `lib` directory, except on Windows; in Linux and Solaris
    builds they were previously placed in the `lib/$ARCH` subdirectory.
    That was a vestigial remnant of images that could support multiple
    CPU architectures, which is no longer a requirement.

  - The `src.zip` file is now in the `lib` directory rather than the
    top-level directory, and this file now includes one directory for
    each module in the image.  IDEs and other tools that read this file
    will need to be updated.

  - Existing standard APIs that return `URL` objects to name class and
    resource files inside the run-time image now return `jrt` URLs, as
    noted above.  Existing code that expects these APIs to return `jar`
    URLs might not work correctly.

  - The internal system property `sun.boot.class.path`
    [has been removed][sbcp-rm].  Existing code that depends upon this
    property might not work correctly.

[sbcp-rm]: http://openjdk.java.net/jeps/261#Removed:-Bootstrap-class-path-options

  - Class and resource files in a JDK image that were previously found in
    `lib/tools.jar`, and visible only when that file was added to the
    class path, are now visible via the system class loader or, in some
    cases, the bootstrap class loader.  The modules containing these
    files are not mentioned in the application class path, _i.e._, in the
    value of the system property `java.class.path`.

  - Class and resource files previously found in `lib/dt.jar` and visible
    only when that file was added to the class path are now visible via
    the bootstrap class loader and present in both the JRE and the JDK.

  - Configuration files previously found in the `lib` directory,
    including the security policy file, are now located in the `conf`
    directory.  Existing code that examines or manipulates these files
    may need to be updated.

  - The defining class loader of the types in some existing packages has
    changed.  Existing code that makes assumptions about the class
    loaders of these types might not work correctly.  The specific
    changes are enumerated in [JEP 261][loaders].  Some of these changes
    are a consequence of the way in which components that contain both
    APIs and tools were [modularized][jep200].  The classes of such a
    component were historically split between `rt.jar` and `tools.jar`,
    but now all such classes are in a single module.

  - The `bin` directory in a JRE image contains a few commands that were
    previously found only in JDK images, namely `appletviewer`, `idlj`,
    `jrunscript`, and `jstatd`.  As with the previous item, these changes
    are a consequence of the way in which components that contain both
    APIs and tools were modularized.


This JEP is the third of four JEPs for [Project Jigsaw][jig].  It depends
upon [JEP 201][jep201], which reorganized the JDK source code into
modules and upgraded the build system to compile modules.  It also
depends upon earlier preparatory work done in [JEP 162][jep162],
implemented in JDK 8.

The jimage format is (intentionally!) not specified, not even as a JDK-specific feature, so that it can evolve over time. The "jrt:" URL scheme is JDK-specific, just as any URL that previously referred to "rt.jar" was JDK-specific. There are no plans to make that, nor the related NIO filesystem provider, a standard part of the Java SE platform.

Can you please detail which part of this JEP is standard relevant (i.e. which will be part of one of the mentioned JSRs)? As far as I understand (and please correct me if I'm wrong), the jimage format is not a publicly specified format and as such can not be part of the Java SE standard as specified by the JCP. Nevertheless it seems to me that at least a few details, like for example the "jrt" URIs are "leaking" into the specification (e.g. for specifying permissions in security policy files). Does this mean that "jrt" just stands for an implementation specific runtime image format which every Java implementer can choose at his own discretion? And what about the NIO FileSystem provider for jrt URLs. Will that be something that's mandated by the standard? If yes, don't we have to specify at least a minimal set of valid formats and operations for is?

FC Extension Approved by Lead Essential component of Jigsaw.

FC Extension Request This JEP has been integrated for some time (the implementation has been in JDK 9 builds since late 2014). There are a small number of open issues listed in the JEP that need to be examined before the JEP can be Completed. Estimated completion: 2016/9/1 The estimated completion date does not include the documentation task. It also does not include the the JCP work to update JSR 67, 222, 224 and 925 (JEP 220 includes a minor update to each of these APIs to change the normative reference to a location in the runtime image). These JSRs are being updated for Java SE 9 anyway because of API changes related to modularization.

Update: Add more issue links to open issues; add an open issue to mention the upcoming change to the jrt file system to support lookups without module names.

Update: Mention that the Class-Path, versioning, and Sealed manifest attributes will be retained; mention that dt.jar will go away; update open issues; document changes to defining class loaders. Diff: https://bugs.openjdk.java.net/secure/attachment/23821/diff-2014-11-26

As of Jigsaw EA build 40 (http://jdk9.java.net/jigsaw), all of the changes described in this JEP have been implemented in the Jigsaw M2 forest.

Update: ucrypto-solaris.cfg moved to conf/security, closing an open issue.

Update: Add description of -XX:+CheckEndorsedAndExtDirs flag.