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Java Cookbook, 2nd Edition by Ian F Darwin

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Chapter 2. Interacting with the Environment

Introduction

This chapter describes how your Java program can deal with its immediate surroundings, with what we call the runtime environment . In one sense, everything you do in a Java program using almost any Java API involves the environment. Here we focus more narrowly on things that directly surround your program. Along the way we’ll meet the System class, which knows a lot about your particular system.

Two other runtime classes deserve brief mention. The first, java.lang.Runtime , lies behind many of the methods in the System class. System.exit( ) , for example, just calls Runtime.exit( ) . It is technically part of “the environment,” but the only time we use it directly is to run other programs, which is covered in Recipe 26.1. The java.awt.Toolkit object is also part of the environment and is discussed in Chapter 13.

2.1. Getting Environment Variables

Problem

You want to get the value of "environment variables” from within your Java program.

Solution

Don’t (JDK 1.4 and earlier). Go ahead, but be careful (JDK 1.5).

Discussion

The seventh edition of Unix, released in 1979, had an exciting new feature known as environment variables. Environment variables are in all modern Unix systems (including Mac OS X) and in most later command-line systems, such as the DOS subsystem underlying Windows, but are not in some older platforms or other Java runtimes. Environment variables are commonly used for customizing an individual computer user’s runtime ...

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