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The groovy native launcher is a native program for launching groovy scripts. It compiles to an executable binary file, e.g. groovy.exe on windows.


The native launcher should support any platform and any jdk / jre (>= 1.4). If you find something that is not supported, please post a JIRA enhancement request and support will be added.

At the moment, the following platforms have been tested:

  • Windows (XP, Vista)
  • linux (SuSE, Ubuntu) on x86
  • solaris on sparc

At the moment, the following jdks / jres have been tested

  • several versions of sun jre / jdk (from 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6 serieses)
  • jrockit

OS-X support is in the works.


The binaries are compiled w/ the provided rant script. Just type

On Windows you need MS cl compiler installed and MS link program to link. Cygwin compilation is in the works.


To use the native launcher, you need to either place the executable in the bin directory of groovy installation OR set the GROOVY_HOME environment variable to point to your groovy installation. If you do not use -jh / --javahome option (see below), JAVA_HOME needs to be set also.

The launcher primarily tries to find the groovy installation by seeing whether it is sitting in the bin directory of one. If not, it resorts to using GROOVY_HOME environment variable. Note that this means that GROOVY_HOME environment variable does not need to be set to be able to run groovy.


The native launcher accepts accepts the same parameters as the .bat / shell script launchers, and on top of that. For details, type
_groovy -h

JVM parameters

Any options not recognized as options to groovy are passed on to the jvm, so you can e.g. do

groovy -Xmx250m myscript.groovy

The -client (default) and -server options to designate the type of jvm to use are also supported, so you can do

groovy -Xmx250m -server myscript.groovy

Note that no aliases like -hotspot, -jrockit etc. are accepted - it's either -client or -server

You can freely mix jvm parameters and groovy parameters. E.g. in the following -d is param to groovy and -Dmy.prop=foo / -Xmx200m are params to the jvm:

groovy -Dmy.prop=foo -d -Xmx200m myscript.groovy


The environment variable JAVA_OPTS that the .bat/shell script launchers use is ignored.

groovy.exe and groovyw.exe on Windows

Similarly to java.exe and javaw.exe on a jdk, the build process produces groovy.exe and groovyw.exe on windows. The difference is the same as w/ java.exe and javaw.exe - groovy.exe requires a console and will launch one if it is not started in a console, whereas groovyw.exe has no console (and is usually used to start apps w/ their own gui or that run on the background).

Pre-compiled binaries

There are precompiled binaries for windows attached to this page. They are not guaranteed to be up to date, but they should work.
Hopefully we will have precompiled binaries for all supported platforms in the future.


Why have a native launcher, why aren't the startup scripts (groovy.bat, sufficient? Here are some reasons:

  • on windows, groovy files may be associated w/ the groovy.exe. Apparently this is not possible for groovy.bat (or any .bat file for that matter)
  • note that once you associate .groovy files w/ groovy.exe, you can run groovy scripts just by using their name w/out the suffix (provided they are
    in the current dir or on PATH), e.g. you can run myscript.groovy just by typing myscript
  • it solves an open bug : return value of groovy (on windows) is always 0 no matter what happens in the executed script ( even if you call System.exit(1) ). Granted, this could be solved by editing the launch scripts also.
  • it is slightly faster than the corresponding .bat / shell script
  • you can mix jvm params and groovy params, thus making it easier and more natural to e.g. reserve more memory for the started jvm.
  • the process will be called "groovy", not "java". Cosmetic, yes, but still nice. = )
  • fixes the problems there have been w/ the .bat launcher and paths w/ whitespace

Also, the launcher has been written so that the source can be used to easily create a native launcher for any Java program.

Help wanted

If you have expertise with any of the following platforms and are willing to help us getting the compilation working on that particular platform, please email me at antti dot karanta (at) iki dot fi:

  • OS-X
  • cygwin
  • mingw
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