What Is the Java Runtime Environment (JRE)?

The JRE is a crucial component of the Java platform because it enables Java programs to run on any system where we’ve installed the JRE. Here’s how it works.

Written by Artem Oppermann
Published on Apr. 10, 2023
What Is the Java Runtime Environment (JRE)?
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The Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is a software package that Java programs require in order to run successfully. The JRE consists of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), which is responsible for the interpretation of the Java bytecode and the execution of Java programs.

Do We Need the Java Runtime Environment (JRE)?

The JRE is an important part of the Java platform because it enables Java programs to run on any system on which you’ve installed JRE, regardless of the computing device’s operating system or hardware. This portability is one of the main benefits of Java because it allows developers to write code everywhere. 

In addition to providing a runtime environment, the JRE also contains a set of tools for packaging and deploying Java applications like Java Applets. The benefit of having a set of tools for packaging and deploying Java applications within the JRE is that these tools help developers distribute their Java applications to end users with more ease.

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How Does the Java Runtime Environment Work? 

The Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is a software layer that provides a virtual machine and a set of libraries for executing Java programs. It’s responsible for managing the execution of Java code and providing a consistent runtime environment across different platforms including but not limited to: Windows, Linux, macOS, Solaris and various mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS. 

Every time you execute a Java program, the JRE takes over and loads the necessary classes, libraries and resources for the program to function correctly. The JRE’s core component, the JVM, is responsible for executing Java programs. The JVM is an abstract machine that provides a runtime environment for Java programs. 

As soon as you execute a Java program, a Java compiler compiles the Java source code into bytecode. The JVM then interprets the bytecode into machine language and executes the program. The JVM provides a platform-independent layer that allows Java programs to be executed on any system, independent of the operating system or hardware.

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Components of the Java Runtime Environment 

Java Virtual Machine (JVM) 

The JVM is the core component of the JRE. It provides an abstract machine that executes Java programs. JVM is responsible for interpreting the bytecode generated by the Java compiler into machine language as well as managing memory usage. The JVM provides a platform-independent layer that allows Java programs to run on any system, regardless of the underlying hardware or operating system.

 

Java Class Libraries

The Java Class Libraries are a collection of pre-written code modules. These modules offer a wide range of features for Java programs and the libraries include standard functions for tasks such as file input/output, networking and user interface development. 

 

Java Runtime API

The Java Runtime API provides a set of interfaces and classes that allow developers to interact with the JRE and access its functionality. This includes interfaces for managing system properties, working with the file system and accessing network resources.

 

Java Deployment Tools

The JRE contains several tools for packaging and deploying Java applications. For example, Java Web Start enables developers to distribute their Java applications as standalone programs they can launch from a web page. Java Applets are another deployment option that allows you to embed Java programs directly in a web page.

 

Security Features

The JRE provides a secure runtime environment for Java programs with a built-in security model that prevents unauthorized access to system resources and protects users from potential security threats. The JVM sandbox provides a layer of protection against malicious code that prevents unauthorized access to system resources and protects users from potential security threats.

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Why Is the JRE Important? 

The JRE is an important part of the Java programming language. It plays a key role in making Java one of the most popular and widely used programming languages in the world. Here are some key reasons for the JRE’s importance to Java. 

 

Platform Independence

JRE made it possible for the Java programming language to be platform independent. Regardless of the underlying hardware or operating system, Java programs are compiled by the JRE into bytecode, which means you can execute Java programs everywhere. This fact makes Java an ideal choice for the development of cross-platform applications because it allows software developers to write the Java program once and run it everywhere. 

 

Security

JRE offers a secure runtime environment for Java programs with built-in security features that protect against potential security threats. The JVM within the JRE provides a layer of protection against malicious code, thereby preventing unauthorized access to system resources and protecting users from potential security threats.

 

Rich Set of Libraries and APIs

The JRE contains many libraries and APIs that offer software developers countless features and functionalities to build Java applications. Some of the most useful Java libraries and APIs are:

  • Java Standard Library (Java SE): The Java SE is a collection of libraries and APIs that provide a wide range of functionality to Java developers including networking, I/O, concurrency and security. It includes commonly used classes such as String, Math, and ArrayList.
  • Java Database Connectivity (JDBC): JDBC is a Java API that allows developers to interact with a wide range of databases, including MySQL, Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server.
  • Java Servlet API: The Java Servlet API provides a set of classes and interfaces for creating web applications in Java. It allows developers to create dynamic web pages and handle HTTP requests and responses. 

 

Ease of Deployment

The JRE contains several deployment tools that make it easy to package and distribute Java applications, such as Java Web Start and Java Applets. These tools allow developers to distribute their Java applications as standalone programs or embed them directly in a web page.

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