install4j Help

JRE Bundles

When deploying a Java application, it is recommended to bundle a JRE. While a JRE with the required version may be available in a controlled environment, it is generally far less error-prone to ship a JRE with each media file. Any JRE bundle that is installed by install4j is private to your application and will not interfere with other applications.

install4j offers two ways to create JRE bundles. You can either let install4j download JDK archives from well-known OpenJDK providers and create JRE bundles from them on the fly, or you can create JRE bundles yourself from installed JREs.

How JRE bundles work at runtime

install4j automatically adjusts the JRE search sequence of all generated launchers and includes the bundled JRE as the first choice. A bundled JRE is used automatically by the installer, the uninstaller, custom installer applications and the generated launchers.

A bundled JRE will always be distributed inside the installation root directory, on Windows and Linux/Unix in the directory

<installation directory>/jre

and on macOS in

<content directory>/.install4j/jre.bundle

The content directory is available from the installer runtime variable sys.contentDir and resolves to the installation directory for folder media file types and Contents/Resources/app for archive media file types. The actual location of the JRE installation directory is available from the installer runtime variable sys.preferredJre after the "Install files" action has run.

When you update your application and include a new JRE bundle, the old JRE bundle will be deleted prior to the installation, so that any files left over from the old JRE cannot interfere with the new JRE. With the "Update bundled JRE" property of the "Install files" action you can disable updates of JRE bundles.

Generated JRE bundles

On the "General Settings->JRE Bundles" step, you can use the release chooser dialog to select a release from which you would like to create the JRE bundles. The available platforms are listed next to each release. The standard platform IDs are

  • windows-amd64 for 64-bit Windows
  • windows-x86 for 32-bit Windows
  • macos-amd64 for macOS on x64
  • macos-aarch64 for macOS on ARM
  • linux-amd64 for 64-bit Linux
  • linux-x86 for 32-bit Linux

Other platforms may be provided by the JDK providers and are usable in the Linux/Unix media files.

By default, Adoptium is set as the JDK provider and is recommended for general purpose usage. For JavaFX applications, the Liberica and the Zulu providers are convenient, because JavaFX is already included and you don't have to work with separately downloaded JMOD files. Liberica also offers an especially wide range of Linux architectures. For Swing desktop applications, the JetBrains Runtime is the best choice because it contains a lot of fixes that are not included in the upstream OpenJDK. Finally, Amazon Corretto is an OpenJDK distribution that focuses on including additional fixes and patches from the main branch and other sources into older releases.

Selecting a release folder node in the chooser dialog rather than a node for a specific release will insert a key ending in /latest. At compile time, the latest release that includes the required platform will be taken.

To add new JDK providers, an SPI is provided in resource/jdk-provider.jar. The associated Javadoc in the archive resource/jdk-provider-javadoc.jar has more information.

Downloaded JDK bundles contain all kinds of modules that you do not need in your distribution. On the other hand, you may have a set of JMODs that have to be linked into the JRE bundle, such as JavaFX. With your configuration in the module selector you can include a base set of modules, single named modules and additional JMODs. By default, a "JRE" with commonly used modules is linked, but the module sets "Minimum" and "All" are also available.

install4j always adds modules that are required by the install4j runtime. This includes the java.desktop module which is required even if you only want to create console installers or archives. In addition, install4j scans the module requirements of your generated launchers and adds them automatically. With the Show included modules button, you can show the actual list of modules that will be added to the JRE bundle. In Java 7 and Java 8 there is no module system, so the entire JRE is bundled for those versions.

In the "Bundled JRE" step of the media wizard, the "Generate a JRE bundle" option is selected by default. You can, set it to "Do not bundle a JRE" in order to create media files without JRE bundles. Furthermore, you can customize the common JRE bundle configuration.

In addition to overriding the JDK provider and the release, you can specify additional modules and JMOD files that should be included for the current media file. The Show included modules button on this step uses the JDK bundle for the target platform unlike the corresponding button on the "General Settings->JRE Bundles" step which uses the JDK bundle for the current platform. This can lead to slight differences because JDKs contains platform-specific modules.

For Unix/Linux media files, the actual platform must be defined on the "Bundled JRE" step of the media wizard. By default, it is set to linux-amd64 which stands for 64-bit Linux. The chooser button displays a dialog with all platforms that are available for the selected release.

If Java 8 is bundled, you can optionally deactivate the Pack200 compression for JAR files in the JRE. In archives, for example, these JAR files are decompressed the first time when a generated launcher is executed, adding a possibly undesired lag. That is why Pack200 compression is not selected by default for archive media files. Pack200 compression is unavailable for macOS single bundle archives where the signature requirements forbid the modification of any included files.

install4j will cache both downloaded JDK bundles as well as generated JRE bundles in the JRE cache directory


on Windows.


on macOS, and


on Linux and Unix where the root directory can be modified with the environment variable XDG_CACHE_HOME.

You can move the contents of this directory including the subdirectories "original" and "generated" to another machine to avoid downloads and speed up compilation. You can also delete this directory to force install4j to re-download all JDK bundles and generate new JRE bundles.

Pre-created JRE bundles

You can create a JRE bundle from any installed JRE on your file system. install4j offers the "Create a JRE bundle" wizard in the "Project" menu to make this task as simple as possible.

If you wish to automate the process, a command line tool for building JRE bundles is available with corresponding tasks in the Gradle, Maven or ant integrations.

Packaging your own JRE can be useful if you want to use JDK providers not supported by install4j (such as the official Oracle JDKs), or if you want to use runtime images that were created by jlink. The JRE bundle wizard only works for the platform you are running on. That means, to create a JRE bundle for Windows, you have to run install4j on Windows, to create a bundle for Linux, you have to run install4j on Linux.

All JREs are saved with a tar.gz extension to the root of the pre-created JRE directory which is


on Windows.

~/Library/Application Support/install4j/v<version>/jres

on macOS, and


on Linux and Unix where the root directory can be modified with the environment variable XDG_DATA_HOME.

Pre-created JRE bundles can be selected in the "Bundled JRE" step of the media wizards

If you would like to put your JRE bundles into a different directory, such as a directory in a version-controlled location, you can copy the .tar.gz file to that directory with the Copy Bundle File button and choose "Manual entry" in the JRE bundle drop-down to enter the path to the bundle file.

Dynamically downloaded JRE bundles

By default, JRE bundles are statically bundled and are always distributed along with your application. A dynamic bundle is downloaded on demand. If the user already has a suitable JRE installed, that JRE will be used. If there is no such JRE available on the target machine, the installer will download the dynamically bundled JRE from the URL that you have specified on the "Bundled JRE" step of the media wizard.

To enable the download on demand, you have to make the .tar.gz JRE bundle archive file available on a web server so that the configured HTTP download URL will point to that bundle archive. The URL has to be of the form The build output displays the location of the JRE bundle file.

If the installer determines that there is no suitable JRE present, it will ask the user whether the JRE should be downloaded. If the Start download without user confirmation, if necessary check box has been selected, that confirmation is skipped and the download starts immediately.

If the download fails or is aborted by the user, the download URL will be displayed together with instructions on where to place the downloaded bundle archive.

You can override the default JRE search in a Windows installer executable by passing the argument -manual to the installer executable. The installer will then report that no JRE could be found and offer you to locate one in your file system. If you have set up a dynamic JRE bundle, it will also offer to start the download. This is a good way to test if your download URL is correct.

Shared JRE bundles

On Windows, Linux and Unix, it is possible to install JRE bundles as "shared", meaning that other installers generated by install4j will be aware of these bundles. A shared JRE bundle will not be uninstalled when the application that has installed the bundle is uninstalled itself.

Note that installers generated by install4j will never install a JRE on the system path or make Windows registry changes. The term "shared installation" only applies to applications distributed with install4j. Other applications will not be able to use such a JRE.

Both the installer that installs the shared JRE as well as the installers that want to use the shared JRE have to set the "Sharing ID" to the same string. This ensures that there is no sharing between installers that have different requirements for the JRE, such as the included modules.

If you dynamically bundle a shared JRE for multiple installers, the bundle will only be downloaded the first time when a user installs one of your installers. Subsequent installations of other installers will find the shared JRE installation.

JRE bundle format

In special cases you might want to create or modify a JRE bundle programmatically, without using the install4j IDE or the command line tools. This can be done with the standard GNU tools tar and gzip. A JRE bundle for install4j is simply a file with the naming scheme:

[operating system]-[architecture]-[JRE version].tar.gz

For windows bundles, the operating system name must be "windows", for macOS "macos", and for Linux and Unix any name can be used. The .tar.gz file contains the JRE bin and lib folders as top-level entries. The steps to create a bundle are outlined below:

cd jre
tar cvf minix-x86-11.tar *
gzip minix-x86-11.tar
cp minix-x86-11.tar.gz $HOME/.local/share/.install4j/v<version>/jres

First you change into the top-level directory of the JRE, then you tar all files and directories and gzip the tar archive.