installing GraalVM on ArchLinux-family distros

4 minute read


this post covers installing GraalVM on ArchLinux based distros. Manjaro (KDE edition) in my case.
this is the exact same post as for no-arch distros but tailored for ArchLinux based ones.

for distributions that use update-alternatives command (i.e., Debian family, Red-Hat family, SuSE family) read general GraalVm installation post

GraalVM is deemed to be a high performance runtime for java (and a few other languages)

although there is a claim of faster speeds on hotspot mode, GraalVM caught my attention mainly because of the native-image feature.
with native-image we could achieve extremely fast cold starts, and very low memory footprint.
both features combined, make java an interesting player in the serverless microservices arena (i.e. aws lambda)


we first need to download GraalVM. Their downloads page is here graalvm downloads
the page lists the latest versions and has some download links from github. Check the downloads page to get the latest updates

to download the latest (at the time of this post) version (v.21.1), go to this github url: graal-github-vm-21.1.0

let’s choose the J16 amd64 link which will download the If you have another system or architecture, choose yours instead of amd64.


open a terminal like:

  • KDE’s Konsole
  • GNOME’s Terminal

extracting the downloaded file

navigate to where you downloaded the file, in my case, the Downloads folder and extract the files from the compressed archive

# extract the file, in my case, from the Downloads folder
user@hostname:~$ cd ~/Downloads
user@hostname:~/Downloads$ tar -xvzf

If you run into a problem, you may need to make the file readable first, like this chmod +r

local configuration

given that arch has its own way of selecting between multiple java installations, we’re going to match their own way.
there is a script called archlinux-java, that looks for java installations in a particular directory, and allows us to set the one we want.

if I run the script now I will get the following:

# checking the installed java versions
user@hostname:~$ archlinux-java status
Available Java environments:
  java-16-openjdk (default)

in arch, the jvms are stored under /lib/jvm. If I list what is inside my own directory I will get this:

# checking the contents of /lib/jvm
user@hostname:~$ ls -lah /lib/jvm/
total 228K
drwxr-xr-x   5 root root 4,0K Jun 30 12:57 .
drwxr-xr-x 220 root root 208K Jun 30 09:11 ..
lrwxrwxrwx   1 root root   15 Jun 30 12:32 default -> java-16-openjdk
lrwxrwxrwx   1 root root   15 Jun 30 12:32 default-runtime -> java-16-openjdk
drwxr-xr-x   7 root root 4,0K Jun 13 13:30 java-11-openjdk
drwxr-xr-x   7 root root 4,0K Jun 26 09:54 java-16-openjdk
drwxr-xr-x   6 root root 4,0K Jun 26 11:02 java-8-openjdk

the mentioned script has a particular way of recognizing jvms, and it is the following one:

Place all files under /usr/lib/jvm/java-${JAVA_MAJOR_VERSION}-${VENDOR_NAME}

we need to copy the downloaded files into a directory that matches the above, so I chose java-16-graalvm; as long as u respect the convention required by the script, choose the name that makes you happy.
this will allow you to have all your manual jvm installations organized, in the way the system expects it.

# copying the extracted files to /lib/jvm
user@hostname:~$ sudo cp -r ~/Downloads/graalvm-ce-java16-21.1.0/ /lib/jvm/java-16-graalvm

if I now run the script I will get this

# checking the installed java versions
user@hostname:~$ archlinux-java status
Available Java environments:
  java-16-openjdk (default)

we have GraalVM among the options!

if I check my current java version I will get:

user@hostname:~$ java -version
openjdk version "16.0.1" 2021-04-20
OpenJDK Runtime Environment (build 16.0.1+9)
OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM (build 16.0.1+9, mixed mode)

switching to graal:

#switching jdks
sudo archlinux-java set java-16-graalvm

#checking new jdk is running
user@hostname:~$ java -version
openjdk version "16.0.1" 2021-04-20
OpenJDK Runtime Environment GraalVM CE 21.1.0 (build 16.0.1+9-jvmci-21.1-b05)
OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM GraalVM CE 21.1.0 (build 16.0.1+9-jvmci-21.1-b05, mixed mode, sharing)

#checking graal utilities are also present after we switched
user@hostname:~$ gu available
Downloading: Component catalog from
ComponentId              Version             Component name                Stability                     Origin 
llvm-toolchain           21.1.0     toolchain            Experimental        
native-image             21.1.0              Native Image                  Experimental        
nodejs                   21.1.0              Graal.nodejs                  Experimental        
R                        21.1.0              FastR                         Experimental        
wasm                     21.1.0              GraalWasm                     Experimental        

as you can see from above, now we are running on GraalVM java, and when we switched jdks the graal utilities became available as well.

installing native-image

all set with GraalVM installation and configuration!

let’s now install native-image which is a powerful tool to convert jvm based apps into blazing fast start low memory footprint native images

# let's install the native-image executable
user@hostname:~$ gu install native-image
Downloading: Component catalog from
Processing Component: Native Image
Downloading: Component native-image: Native Image  from
Installing new component: Native Image (org.graalvm.native-image, version 21.1.0)

# to make sure it is installed run the command below, you should get a similar output
user@hostname:~$ native-image --version
GraalVM 21.1.0 Java 16 CE (Java Version 16.0.1+9-jvmci-21.1-b05)

NOTE: if you switch to another jvm then you will also lose graalvm’s utilities like native-image and gu

you are now all set to start playing with GraalVM!!!