Clean Java packaging has historically been a daunting task. Lack of any standard addressing the physical location of files on the system combined with the common use of licensing terms that only allow free redistribution of key components as a part of a greater ensemble has let to the systematic release of self-sufficient applications with built-in copies of external components.

As a consequence applications are only tested with the versions of the components they bundle, a complete Java system suffers from endless duplication of the same modules, and integrating multiple parts can be a nightmare since they are bound to depend on the same elements - only with different and subtly incompatible versions (different requirements, different bugs). Any security or compatibility upgrade must be performed for each of those duplicated elements.

This problem is compounded by the current practice of folding extensions in the JVM itself after a while; an element that could safely be embedded in a application will suddenly conflict with a JVM part and cause subtle failures.

It is not surprising then that complex Java systems tend to fossilize very quickly, with the cost of maintaining dependencies current growing too high so fast people basically give up on it.

This situation is incompatible with typical fast-evolving Linux platform. To attain the aim of user- and administrator-friendly RPM packaging of Java applications a custom infrastructure and strict packaging rules had to be evolved.

Basic introduction to packaging, reasons, problems, rationale

This section includes basic introduction to Java packaging world to people coming from different backgrounds. Goal is to understand language of all groups involved. If you are a Java developer coming into contact with RPM packaging for the first time start reading Java developer section. On the other hand if you are coming from RPM packaging background an introduction to Java world is probably a better starting point.

It should be noted that especially in this section we might sacrifice correctness for simplicity.