Java - how to read system properties and environment variables

Java FAQ: How do I access/read system properties and environment variables?

Answer: With Java you actually read system environment variables and system properties using two different method calls, although you access them in more or less the same way, as they are both stored in a Map. The sample Java code shown below shows how to read these two different sets of properties using Java 5 syntax:

package com.devdaily.javasamples;

import java.util.Map;
import java.util.Properties;

/**
 * Demonstrates how to read/access the system environment variables
 * and system properties.
 * Created by Alvin Alexander, http://devdaily.com.
 */
public class EnvironmentVariableExample
{
  
  public static void main(String[] args)
  {
    // get the environment variables
    System.out.println("Environment Variables");
    Map

As you can see from the output of this program, the system environment variables and properties are two different maps. First, here are the environment variables:

Environment Variables
SECURITYSESSIONID = 2790d870
USER = al
HOME = /Users/al
APP_ICON_22269 = ../Resources/Eclipse.icns
JAVA_JVM_VERSION = 1.5.0
__CF_USER_TEXT_ENCODING = 0x1F5:0:0
PATH = /usr/bin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/sbin
SHELL = /bin/bash
JAVA_MAIN_CLASS_22331 = com.devdaily.javasamples.EnvironmentVariableExample

Next, here is a much larger list of the system properties:

System Properties
java.runtime.name = Java(TM) 2 Runtime Environment, Standard Edition
sun.boot.library.path = /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Libraries
java.vm.version = 1.5.0_07-87
awt.nativeDoubleBuffering = true
gopherProxySet = false
java.vm.vendor = "Apple Computer, Inc."
java.vendor.url = http://apple.com/
path.separator = :
java.vm.name = Java HotSpot(TM) Client VM
file.encoding.pkg = sun.io
user.country = US
sun.os.patch.level = unknown
java.vm.specification.name = Java Virtual Machine Specification
user.dir = /Users/al/JavaTests
java.runtime.version = 1.5.0_07-164
java.awt.graphicsenv = apple.awt.CGraphicsEnvironment
java.endorsed.dirs = /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Home/lib/endorsed
os.arch = i386
java.io.tmpdir = /tmp
line.separator = 

java.vm.specification.vendor = Sun Microsystems Inc.
os.name = Mac OS X
sun.jnu.encoding = MacRoman
java.library.path = .:/Library/Java/Extensions:/System/Library/Java/Extensions:/usr/lib/java
java.specification.name = Java Platform API Specification
java.class.version = 49.0
sun.management.compiler = HotSpot Client Compiler
os.version = 10.4.10
user.home = /Users/al
user.timezone = 
java.awt.printerjob = apple.awt.CPrinterJob
file.encoding = MacRoman
java.specification.version = 1.5
java.class.path = /Users/al/JavaTests/bin:/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Classes/.compatibility/14compatibility.jar
user.name = al
java.vm.specification.version = 1.0
java.home = /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Home
sun.arch.data.model = 32
user.language = en
java.specification.vendor = Sun Microsystems Inc.
awt.toolkit = apple.awt.CToolkit
java.vm.info = mixed mode, sharing
java.version = 1.5.0_07
java.ext.dirs = /Library/Java/Extensions:/System/Library/Java/Extensions:/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Home/lib/ext
sun.boot.class.path = /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Classes/classes.jar:/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Classes/ui.jar:/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Classes/laf.jar:/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Classes/sunrsasign.jar:/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Classes/jsse.jar:/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Classes/jce.jar:/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Classes/charsets.jar
java.vendor = Apple Computer, Inc.
file.separator = /
java.vendor.url.bug = http://developer.apple.com/java/
sun.io.unicode.encoding = UnicodeLittle
sun.cpu.endian = little
mrj.version = 1040.1.5.0_07-164
sun.cpu.isalist =

As you can probably tell from that output, I'm using the Java 5 platform on a Mac OS X workstation running OS X version 10.4.10 when running this program.

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