Chef cookbook for Java on Ubuntu

11 Jun 2012

When Oracle revoked Ubuntu’s partner licence last year, installing Oracle Java on Ubuntu became a hassle. Instead of simply running apt-get or aptitude to grab the packages from Ubuntu’s partner repository, sysadmins either had to migrate to OpenJDK or set up their own private repositories from Oracle’s website. Neither alternative was particularly attractive to me.

Fortunately Martin Wimpress has developed a great script for setting up a local Java apt repository on Ubuntu using Oracle’s Java binaries without breaking the licensing terms. This makes installing Oracle Java as simple as executing a single command-line script again.

Chef Java Cookbook

I use Chef to manage server my server configuration so I created a Chef cookbook that wraps Martin’s script to install Java. You can download it from

The default configuration will install the sun-java6-jdk package from the local repository. If you’d like to install oracle-java7-jdk instead, set the node[:java][:jdk_version] to ‘7’.

Vagrant and Hadoop

Some of the work I do involves writing code for Hadoop clusters. I use Vagrant for local development so that I can test code in an environment closely resembling production. Vagrant works with Chef to configure and run a virtual machine from each project directory containing a Vagrantfile.

I download the Java and Hadoop cookbooks into a chef/cookbooks directory relative to this Vagrantfile:

Running vagrant up from the directory containing the Vagrantfile initiates the configuration process, downloading the base virtual machine if it isn’t already locally installed, and then executing the cookbook code on top. After about 10 minutes I have a local development Hadoop installation accessible via vagrant ssh.