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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Pro's and Cons of installing the JRE


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RJB1953

 
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Hi,
I have a new MB Pro with OS X 10.7.2 and one of the questions I have is do I need the Java Run Time Environment installed? I know in Windows world Java is everywhere and I never gave it much thought. Since it is optional in the Lion environment and I really am new to the Mac world I thought I would seek advice on pros and cons of installing it, is it needed and what do I miss if I don't install it. Any comments are appreciated of course.

Thank you all for a great forum!
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vansmith

 
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You only need it if you need to make use of Java content. You don't see it all that much anymore but it does come up once in a while (OpenOffice and LibreOffice require Java I believe). I'd say install it if you wish or wait until you need it and then install it.

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RJB1953

 
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Thank you for responding so quickly. It does seem like a lot of Windows applications run on Java so what you are saying is a little surprising. I did install OpenOffice, which I have always wanted to try, and I think it did want to install JRE. I didn't install it at that time mainly because I wanted to understand the security implications. Interestingly the word processor and spreadsheet capabilities seem to work fine without it but then I didn't exercise all the features.

Are there any security concerns with Java in the Mac environment? I know Mac OS is very robust but after being compromised by viruses despite loading up the finest in Windows bloatware AV's you can understand why I am cautious. I did read the forum discussion on using the firewall, I'll save those questions until I have learned a little more about it. I am loving my MacBook Pro....

Lol as I was typing this I got a pop up to update Adobe Flashplayer. I guess somethings never change.

I am enjoying the forum a lot, it's a great feeling to have this support.
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vansmith

 
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OpenOffice and LibreOffice are both written with C++ and Java so you may not have used any parts yet that require Java.

Are there any particular security concerns that you're worried about? As far as I know, Java is relatively safe (it doesn't seem to be any more insecure than other software). It's also important to remember that no piece of software is bullet proof.

One thing to note about Java and OS X - Apple is responsible for distributing and packaging it for OS X and they tend to take their sweet time updating it. For instance, Java 7 was released about a month ago and I wouldn't expect to see it on the Mac for a while.

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RJB1953

 
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I have heard of vulnerabilities for some of the earlier versions of Java, I guess that stuck with me even though those problems were associated with Win based machines. I like that Apple is involved in the distribution of Java with the OS so I went ahead and installed it.

I do have one question regarding the Firewall if it is ok to mix it with this thread. I have tested the system with it on and off and really didn't see any performance hit. THere is an option to block all incoming connections. I didn't enable that because it looks like it might interfere with the sharing features. We use file sharing and the printer all the time on our network. My wife has a MB Air and we have a few other Apple devices but all the other computers are Windows machines. Any comments on the "block all incoming connections" option and do you think I should use it given we are networking Windows machines too? Sorry I know these are probably dumb questions but with Windows machines it's generally almost required to run in maximum bloatware mode and I really want to be more intelligent about setting up our Macs.
Thanks again.
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vansmith

 
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Make sure your router firewall is on and enable your Mac firewall if you feel the need to do so. If it provides peace of mind, go for it.

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vansmith

 
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I didn't suggest that the firewall would solve JRE related security issues (it could though depending on how you use Java). I do however think it can be a good thing for people who move between networks and don't control the hardware there since a Mac, at any given time, has a variety of network services running that could potentially be exploited. A simple lsof -i will show you the variety of services that have opened sockets. I've got two alone on port 80 (the HTTP port).

It's off by default because theoretically, there are no open ports/services. The moment you open up a port, you should ensure that you have it protected. Given what I mentioned above about moving between networks (and note that the OP has a notebook), it can't hurt to look into using the firewall. And honestly, if the firewall wasn't needed, it wouldn't be included. It may be off for a reason but it's also included for a reason.

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RJB1953

 
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Thanks guys! Listening to experience is the best way to learn. FYI I found a reference to a test site on this forum, GRC.com, went there and ran the Shields Up utility. I ran it with both the Mac firewall on and off with no difference in the results. My router firewall was enabled and curiously the only thing that failed was the ping test. My router is set to ignore pings - something to investigate! So next question is GRC a reliable indicator of protection? Do you know of a better test site? Hope you forgive the obsession with security but like many others I have been burned in the windows environment. Have I said I LOVE MY MACBOOK PRO yet today?
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