Many OU courses use self-written Java tools, which is basically very good for us non-Windozers. However, in most cases, you first have to install it yourself.

Important: Pages linking here should always state which version of Java is required. If some page doesn't, go with the latest version (i. e. the highest number) and please drop me a line so I can fix it.

Typical installation instructionsEdit

Typical Installation Instructions There are two types of Java installation which are of interest to us:

  • JRE: The Java Runtime Environment will enable you to run Java software.
  • JDK: The Java Development Kit will enable you to both develop and run Java software.

If your course will involve actual Java programming, you should choose the JDK. If you are just about to use Java software, the JRE will suffice.

If in doubt, go for the JDK, because it contains the JRE.

There are different vendors of Java, including companies SUN (the inventor) and IBM as well as various Open Source projects. Since Java Standard Edition has been made Open Source, the OpenJDK distribution is a very good truly free alternative to the commercial ones. However, SUNs implementation is the one used by the OU and to minimize risk, I recommend to use their distribution.


JRE: Install the sun-javaX-jre (where X is the java version, e. g. 6) package for your distribution.

JDK: Install the sun-javaX-jdk (where X is the java version, e. g. 6) package for your distribution. I highly recommend to install the Java documentation package (usually called sun-javaX-doc) if you are about to program in Java. Some TMAs ask you too look something up there, and it's just a big help :)

If you do not have SUN Java packages with the desired version in your package management, I recommend you go to the official Website and get your Java version there. You'll probably want the Java Standard Edition Java SE.



Java 4 (AKA 1.4.0)Edit

Follow the Typical installation instructions above.

Java 5 (AKA 1.5.0)Edit

Follow the Typical installation instructions above.

Note to Linux users: Many Java programs (those using Swing, in particular) will not work on Linux with Java 5 and Compiz, Beryl or Compiz Fusion turned on. If you get a blank window for a Java application, deactivate 3D desktop effects.

Java 6Edit

Follow the Typical installation instructions above.

JMF - Java Media FrameworkEdit

To run some Java software, you will need to install the JMF. It enables Java programs to play video and audio files, among others. You won't need this in most situations, that is, unless you are told to install it.


Find the version of JMF you'll need. If it's not to be found, go with the latest. As of writing this, this link takes you to the latest version: 2.1.1e. I recommend you get the Linux performance pack, the crossplattform file cannot play MPEG videos.

The file I downloaded was called jmf-2_1_1e-linux-i586.bin. Move it to where you would like to have JMF installed.

The installer, in this particular version, has an error in it, so we will have to fix it:

Make sure you have sed installed, then execute the following:

sed -i -r 's/(tail)\ (\+309)/\1\ \-n\ \2/' jmf-2_1_1e-linux-i586.bin

Once the script is fixed, execute it. Press q, type yes, yes no and you're set.

Download the JMF MP3 Plug-In ( from here (as of writing this), you'll probably need it.

Extract lib/ext/mp3plugin.jar from the archive into your JMF-2.1.1e/lib directory.

Now do the following as a super user, assuming your java installation is located at /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun and you extracted JMF to /files/JMF-2.1.1e:

ln -s /files/JMF-2.1.1e/lib/*.jar /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun/jre/lib/ext
ln -s /files/JMF-2.1.1e/lib/ /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun/jre/lib

Now add the following to the end of the .profile file located in your home directory:

export JMFHOME=/usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun/jre/lib
export CLASSPATH=$JMFHOME/ext/jmf.jar:.:$CLASSPATH

Log out and in at your system. There is one last step, registering the MP3 plugin with JMF:


Now you are done.

You can test it on this page.

Note: It doesn't play MPEG-1 files for me, though it's supposed to. I will work on this.