OpenOffice.org Goes Silent without Java

Operating System: Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit)

After installing OpenOffice.org 3.0.1 (OOo for short) without the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) (filename: OOo_3.0.1_Win32Intel_install_en-US.exe), the option to register my copy had come up but the regular wizard did not run as expected. I had forgotten to install the JRE since I recently reformatted my PC. Oops.

Regardless, I wanted to see just how much functionality was missing from OOo and so I opened up the OpenOffice.org launch application. First, I tried to use the Registration wizard again, but I got the following error below:

Error message when JRE not installed

Error message when JRE is not installed

I’m glad I got this error, as it confirmed that OpenOffice.org knew that the JRE was not installed. But before I installed the JRE, I wanted to try out what else wouldn’t work and the only thing I found that wouldn’t work properly was OpenOffice.org Base, the database application. I could select what database I wanted to create or open, but the application itself would not load; I was simply in a wizard. My problem with OOo Base is that it had no error message to alert the user as to why it wasn’t opening. A silent failure.

Enough play, I thought; it was time to install the Java SE Development Kit (JDK) (NOTE: You could have just as well installed the regular JRE, but I do some Java development from time-to-time so I require the JDK’s tools). I selected the JDK 6 Update 12 x64 installer for 64-bit Windows (filename: jdk-6u12-windows-x64-p.exe). Installation went perfectly, and I even rebooted just to make sure all environmental variables were set.

Once again, I booted up the OOo launcher and selected the Registration icon… but I was met with the same error as above! I did some digging in the OOo directory tree, but I did not have enough time to go through the OOo directories (a file tree is available here) (NOTE: this is the Windows directory structure) and figure out how to hook up the JRE to it. If the only remedy is to re-install OpenOffice.org, I would consider this a problem in usability. I still need to investigate this further to make sure I did not miss anything.

Problems Encountered / Investigation Needed

  1. OpenOffice.org Base fails to launch and display an error when the JRE is not installed (or detected)
  2. OOo does not detect the JRE after installation
    • Problem with 64-bit libraries?
    • Windows-specific error?

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UPDATE

On 23 March 2009, Java 6 Update 13 was released which has fixed the Java detection issue with OpenOffice.org.

Once the Java 1.6.0_13 Update is installed, you can select which Java Runtime you wish to use from the Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org > Java menu in any instance of OOo. From my limited reading on the subject, this was a problem with the technique to detect a JRE on a Windows machine by only checking that certain environmental variables were set. I wonder if this is still bug-worthy.

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3 Responses to OpenOffice.org Goes Silent without Java

  1. I haven’t experienced this issue since the newer Java update, so it may have been something with my JRE install. Either way, this should not happen again if you keep current with your software updates.

  2. have a real solution says:

    So… do you have a real solution to the Ooo j jre64 problem or you you just winning?

  3. I was just pointing out what I was observing. As far as I know, the detection issue was a problem with Java’s installation routines. I haven’t been able to replicate this issue recently so I don’t think it’s an issue any more.

    However, I still think OpenOffice.org needs to have better detection of Java. To be honest though, I tend to install the version without the bundled Java version. I’m sure that this is not really an issue for the majority of users; the default download is usually the bundled version anyways.