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Nicely timed as a christmas present Apache Karaf 3.0.0 was released on the 24th of December. As a user of karaf 2.x you might ask yourself why to switch to the new major version. Here are 10 reasons why the switch is worth the effort.

Table of Contents

External dependencies are cached locally now

One of the coolest features of karaf is that it can load features and bundles from a maven repository. In karaf 2.x the drawback was though that external dependencies thaat are not already in the system dir and local maven repo were always loaded from the external repo. Karaf 3 now uses the real maven artifact resolution. So it automatically caches downloaded artifacts in the local maven repo. So the artifacts only have to be loaded the first time.

Delay shell start till all bundles are up and running

A typical problem in karaf 2.x and also karaf 3 with default settings is that the shell comes up before all bundles are started. So if you enter a command you migh get an error that the command is unknown - simply because the respective bundle is not yet loaded. In karaf 3 you can set the property "karaf.delay.console=true". Karaf will then show a progress bar on startup and start the console when all bundles are up and running. If you are in a hurry you can still type enter to start the shell faster.

Create kar archives from existing features

If you need some features for offline deploymeent then kar files are a nice alternative to setting up a maven repo or copying everything to the system dir. Most features are not available as kar files though. In karaf 3 the kar:create command allows to create a kar file from any installed feature repository. Kar files now also can be defined as pure repositories. So they can be installed without installing all contained features.


feature:repo-add camel 2.12.2
kar:create camel-2.12.2

A kar file with all camel features will be created below data/kar. You can also select which features to include.

More consistent commands

In karaf 2.x the command naming was not very consistent. For karaf 3 we have the common scheme of <subject>:<command> or <subject>:<secondary-subject>-<command>. For example adding feature repos now is:

feature:repo-add <url or short name> ?<version>

Instead of features:chooseurl and features:addurl.

The various dev commands are now moved to the subjects they affect. Like bundle:watch instead of dev:watch or system:property instead of dev:system-property.

JDBC commands

Karaf 3 allows to directly interact with jdbc databases from the shell. Examples are creating a datasource. Executing a sql command, showing the results of a sql query. For more details see blog article from JB: New enterprise JDBC feature.

JMS commands

Similar to jdbc karaf 3 now contains commands for jms interactions from the shell. You can create connection factories, send and consume messages. See blog article from JB : new enterprise jms feature.

Role based access control for commands and services

In karaf 2.x every user with shell access can use every command, OSGi services are not protected at all. Karaf 3 contains role based access control for commands and services. So for example you can define a group of users that can only list bundles and do other non admin task by simply changing some configuration files. Similar you can protect any OSGi service so it can only be called from a process with successful jaas login and with the correct roles. More details about this feature can be found at

Diagnostics for blueprint and spring dm

In karaf 2.x it was difficult to diagnose problems with bundles using blueprint and spring dm. Karaf 3 now has the simple bundle:diag command that lists diagnostics about all bundles that did not start. For example you can see that a blueprint bundle waits for a namespace or that a blueprint file has a syntax error. Simply try this the next time your bundles do not work like expected.

Features for persistence frameworks

Karaf 3 now has features for openjpa and hibernate. So along with the already present jpa and jta features this makes it easy to install everything you need to do jpa based persistence.

Features for CDI and EJB

The cdi feature installs pax cdi. This allows to use the full set of CDI annotations including any portable extensions in Apache Karaf. The openjpa feature allows to even install openejb for full ejb support on Apache Karaf.

This only lists some of the most noteable features of karaf 3. There is a lot more to discover. Take your time and dig around the features and commands.