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Understanding JDK, JRE, and JVM: A Comprehensive Tutorial with Examples

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  • Post last modified:May 15, 2024

Java, a popular programming language, relies on three crucial components for its execution: JDK, JRE, and JVM. These components play distinct yet interrelated roles in the Java ecosystem. In this tutorial, we’ll delve into each of them, understand their differences, and provide illustrative code examples to deepen your comprehension.

1. JDK (Java Development Kit)

Definition: JDK, short for Java Development Kit, is a software development kit that provides tools for developing Java applications. It includes the JRE, an interpreter/loader (Java), a compiler (javac), an archiver (jar), a documentation generator (Javadoc), and other tools needed for Java development.

Key Features:

  • Contains everything needed to develop Java applications.
  • Includes JRE for executing Java programs.
  • Equips developers with tools for compiling, debugging, and documenting Java code.

Example: Let’s compile a simple Java program using JDK.

public class HelloWorld {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println("Hello, World!");

To compile this program using JDK, run the following command in your terminal:


This command will generate a HelloWorld.class file, which can then be executed using the JRE.

2. JRE (Java Runtime Environment)

Definition: JRE, or Java Runtime Environment, is an implementation of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) that allows Java programs to run. It consists of the JVM, class libraries, and other supporting files required for the execution of Java applications.

Key Features:

  • Enables the execution of Java applications.
  • Provides libraries and resources necessary for running Java programs.
  • Doesn’t contain development tools like compilers and debuggers (unlike JDK).

Example: Running the compiled HelloWorld program using JRE.

java HelloWorld

This command executes the HelloWorld class file using the Java Virtual Machine provided by the JRE.

3. JVM (Java Virtual Machine)

Definition: JVM, the Java Virtual Machine, is an abstract computing machine that enables a computer to run Java programs. It provides a runtime environment in which Java bytecode can be executed. JVM is platform-independent, meaning Java programs compiled to bytecode can run on any device that has a JVM implementation.

Key Features:

  • Executes Java bytecode.
  • Provides platform independence by abstracting hardware and operating system specifics.
  • Manages memory, handles exceptions, and facilitates dynamic linking of classes.

Example: Running a Java program on JVM.

Suppose we have a compiled Java class file named HelloWorld.class. We can execute it using the JVM with the following command:

java HelloWorld

This command launches the JVM, loads the HelloWorld class file, and executes its main method.


In summary, JDK, JRE, and JVM are essential components of the Java platform, each serving distinct purposes in the development and execution of Java applications. Understanding their roles and differences is crucial for Java developers. With the examples provided in this tutorial, you should now have a solid foundation to comprehend and utilize these components effectively in your Java projects.

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