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CRIU support

(Linux® x86, Linux on POWER® (Little Endian), and Linux on IBM Z® only)

Note: Support for the Checkpoint/Restore In Userspace (CRIU) tool is currently provided as a technical preview in container environments. CRIU support is available for the CRIU version that is packaged with the Semeru container image. This preview is supported for use in production environments, however, all APIs and command-line options are subject to change.

In OpenJ9, the CRIU support includes an API that you can use to stop the VM at a checkpoint, save its state, and then run the VM from the point where it was stopped. The period of time between when the VM starts and when the application takes a checkpoint is referred to as the checkpoint phase. The application writes the VM state that was saved at the checkpoint to one or more image files. The saved state includes memory pages, methods, file systems, processes, and network connections. You can restore the VM from these files multiple times from the same point and in multiple environments.

Because the checkpoint image files have the live state of the VM that is used to restore the VM in different systems, they should not contain cryptographically-sensitive security data. If the image files contain sensitive security data, the security components are vulnerable to exploitation even if you don't move the image files between systems. The CRIU technical preview introduces the CRIUSECProvider security provider, which provides the following limited set of security services: MessageDigest and SecureRandom. When you enable CRIU support, all existing security providers are removed from the security provider list during the checkpoint phase and CRIUSECProvider is added. When you restore the VM in the nonportable restore mode (-XX:+CRIURestoreNonPortableMode), CRIUSECProvider is removed from the security provider list and the previous security providers are added back again.

When the VM starts from the saved point instead of the beginning, the VM startup time improves.

Enabling CRIU support

CRIU support is not enabled by default. You must enable it by specifying the -XX:+EnableCRIUSupport command-line option when you start your application.

Configuring CRIU support

You can access the OpenJ9 CRIU support capabilities by specifying different options. The VM enables the addition of VM options on restore through the CRIUSupport.registerRestoreOptionsFile API and environment variables through the CRIUSupport.registerRestoreEnvVariables API. OPENJ9_RESTORE_JAVA_OPTIONS is a special environment variable for adding the VM options on restore.

There are new options that work at checkpoint as well as at restore and some new options that work at restore only. There are also some existing options that work on restore but some of them behave differently.

New options

You can use the following options only during the checkpoint phase:

You can use the following options only when you restore a VM. If you specify these options when you start the VM (during the checkpoint phase), the VM does not start:

Existing options

Of the existing command-line options, only the following are supported when you run a restored VM and some of these options have changed behavior:

Options Changed behavior
-Xtrace If you specify an output file before a checkpoint and another output file for restore, both the files are written according to the -Xtrace options associated with the output file.
-Xdump Dump events that are triggered on exception throws or catches cannot be enabled on restore.
-Xgcthreads This option is ignored if the number of GC threads is less than the checkpoint GC thread count.
-Xjit If -Xint or -Xnoaot and -Xnojit are specified pre-checkpoint, the compiler remains disabled post-restore.
-Xaot If -Xnoaot is specified pre-checkpoint, then specifying -Xaot post-restore does not enable AOT compilation or load.
-Xjit / -Xaot You can specify the following parameters with the -Xjit and -Xaot options when you run a restored VM:
count: Applies only to new methods; existing interpreted methods will not have their counts that are updated.
limit, limitFile, exclude: Invalidates the existing compiled methods that do not match the filters. The filters are then enforced for all future JIT and AOT compilations.
loadLimit, loadLimitFile, loadExclude: Applies only to future AOT loads; does not impact existing compiled methods.
verbose: Effective post-restore; does not override verbose options specified pre-checkpoint.
vlog: A vlog file is opened post-restore. If this option was specified pre-checkpoint, the old file is closed first.
-Xnoaot Prevents AOT compilations and loads; does not affect the existing compiled methods and does not prevent JIT compilation.
-Xnojit Invalidates all existing compiled methods and prevents JIT compilations; does not prevent AOT compilations and loads.

If you specify an unsupported option, the VM throws a JVMRestoreException error by default. If you specify the -XX:+IgnoreUnrecognizedRestoreOptions option, the VM does not throw any exception and just ignores the unsupported option.

For more more information on CRIU support, see the openj9.criu module in your OpenJ9 JDK version (OpenJDK 11 and later) API documentation.


  • If an -Xtrace or JIT log output file is specified on startup and doesn’t exist on restore, or is modified in any way between checkpoint and restore, the restore operation fails.
  • Method tracing might not work consistently if a method is compiled pre-checkpoint.
  • The Java™ heap is configured at startup. The VM detects the available memory on the system and sizes the heap based on it. With the CRIU support, this means that the size of the Java heap (-Xms, -Xmx) and the respective heap regions, such as nursery and tenure at checkpoint will be same on restore. If a checkpoint is taken in a container with no memory limits and then restored in a container with memory limits, the restored VM instance does not detect the memory limits.
  • There is currently no support for changing locales. A checkpoint must be taken with the intended target locale on restore for it to function properly.

See Also