Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Java Update

Brian Krebs reports that Sun has released a new version of Java, which includes several bug fixes and a patch for "at least one security vulnerability." He also notes, and good for him, that Sun's usual method of notifying home users lags behind their releases, and that the page Sun offers to verify that you have the latest version is typically a little behind.

Depending on what part of Sun's site you want to believe, this is either version 1, release 6, or version 6, release 6. The important part is "release 6." The confusion in the major version number (1 or 6) is something to do with a never-ending battle between marketroids and developers. 'Nuff said.

If you're paranoid like me and you want the latest version, getting it is not particularly hard. Assuming that you just want the basic hunk of Java that lets your browser do its thing, visit this page and scroll down to where it says "Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 6 Update 6." Click the corresponding "Download" button. On the next page, choose your operating system. (Windows people: don't pick "Windows x64" unless that's what you really have. Just pick "Windows.") Check the box that says you agree to the license blah blah. Click "Continue."

On the next page, look for the section headed "Windows Offline Installation." Right-click the link labeled jre-6u6-windows-i586-p.exe and from the pop-up context menu, choose Save link as …. The file dialog box pops up. Save the file to your desktop. (Some of the latter details will differ if you're using a different operating system, obviously.)

After the file has finished downloading, double-click its icon to install. Accept all defaults. Close your browser and restart it. For a moment of irony, revisit the verification page to confirm that you have the latest version installed. (You will see that the new version is listed: 1.6.0_6.) Delete the file that you downloaded to your desktop.

As Krebs also reminds us, Sun is still unable to remove previous versions as part of the process of installing upgrades, so if you're as fastidious as me, use Windows's Add/Remove Programs to uninstall the old versions. Make sure not to delete the latest -- which will appear as "Java(TM) 6 Update 6."

What if you don't want to go through this? I suppose you could wait until Sun's update mechanisms notify you in the usual way, and trust to your otherwise safe surfing habits. It's probably not that big a deal.

Of course, while you're dilly-dallying, the terrorists will have won.

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