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Developers using the popular OpenJDK (Java Development Kit) software tool can breathe a little easier Wednesday after Amazon Web Services announced it would support the tool with bug fixes and enhancements for the next several years with the release of an internally developed implementation of OpenJDK known as Amazon Coretto.

Announced at Devoxx in Europe Wednesday, Coretto is an open-source distribution of OpenJDK developed for internal use at Amazon to manage Java applications. While Java is widely used to build enterprise applications, the future of OpenJDK has been in doubt thanks to Oracle’s decision to end support for the free version of OpenJDK as of this coming January.

James Gosling, who created Java more than a decade ago at Sun Microsystems and was hired by AWS last year as a distinguished engineer in an unspecified role, also announced the move on Twitter:

Java has been a workhorse for software developers over the years, and remains the most widely used programming language among software developers. Its future became cloudy (and not in the good way) after Oracle bought Sun in 2009 and proceeded to treat Java more as a corporate asset and less as the community development tool that Gosling and Sun envisioned.

James Gosling
James Gosling, inventor of the Java programming language. (James Gosling Photo)

Oracle’s announcement that it would only support its commercial release of OpenJDK beyond next year caused a momentarily panic among developers and businesses who rely on Java applications for important parts of their business, but with AWS joining Red Hat and Microsoft in offering customers support through 2023, those developers can breathe a little easier. Corretto is “a no-cost, multiplatform, production-ready distribution of OpenJDK from Amazon” that the company uses internally to run “thousands of production services,” AWS said in a blog post.

AWS pledged to release quarterly updates with bug fixes and security patches, and it will release out-of-cycle patches if it discovers critical security bugs that need immediate fixes. Developers running Amazon Linux 2, Windows, or MacOS can start using a preview version now, and a generally available version with support for Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux will arrive in the first quarter of next year, AWS said.

The cloud computing giant has often been criticized for taking more from the open source community than it gives back, although it has made several moves over the past year or so to deal with that impression, hiring Gosling and longtime Netflix engineer Adrian Cockcroft to try and address some of those concerns. Corretto will be released under the same open-source license as OpenJDK, and the company will continue to contribute to the core OpenJDK project itself, it said.

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