Java Runtime Environment

Java Runtime Environment

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The Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is a software layer that provides the resources needed for executing Java programs on a device. It is part of the Java Development Kit (JDK), but can also be installed independently. Let’s break down what it includes and how it functions.

Components of JRE

The JRE is composed of several key components that allow Java applications to run:

  1. Java Virtual Machine (JVM): The heart of the JRE, the JVM is the engine that executes Java bytecode, a platform-independent version of the source code that Java programs are compiled into. JVM interprets this bytecode line by line, translating it into machine language instructions that can be executed on the host computer’s hardware.
  2. Java Class Libraries: Also known as the Java API, these are pre-built Java functions accessible to all Java programs. They cover a wide range of functionalities, from basic data structures to network communication to graphical user interface (GUI) construction. These libraries are packaged into Java Archive (JAR) files.
  3. Java Class Loader: This is the part of the JVM that loads classes into memory when they’re needed by a Java application. It also handles the namespace for the classes it loads.
  4. Java Runtime Class Libraries: These provide the minimum requirements for running a Java application, including java.lang, java.util, and java.io packages.
  5. User Interface Toolkits: These are sets of libraries that Java programs can use to build graphical user interfaces. The Abstract Window Toolkit (AWT), Swing, and JavaFX are examples of these toolkits.

How the JRE Works

When a Java program is launched, the JRE loads the necessary class files, and the JVM executes the program’s instructions. If the program uses any libraries, those are also loaded from the classpath, a list of locations (directories, JAR archives, etc.) where the JRE can find Java class files.

While the program is running, the JVM also performs several other tasks in the background. It manages the program’s memory, cleaning up objects that are no longer in use using a process called garbage collection. It also handles security, ensuring that the program does not perform any actions that are not allowed by the security policy.

JRE vs JDK

While the JRE is designed to run Java programs, the Java Development Kit (JDK) is designed for developers to write and debug Java programs. The JDK includes a JRE along with a number of development tools such as the Java compiler (javac), a debugger (jdb), a documentation generator (javadoc), and more.

Conclusion

The Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is essential for running Java applications. It provides the minimum requirements for executing Java applications on your system, including the crucial Java Virtual Machine. It is platform-independent, allowing the same Java application to run on various computing platforms without any modifications. Whether you are a developer or an end-user, understanding the JRE can help you better understand how Java applications function.

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