Sebastian Nagel commented on NUTCH-1345:

JAVA_HOME (or NUTCH_JAVA_HOME) is currently used for two things:
# use $JAVA_HOME/bin/java as Java executable
# determining the location of lib/tools.jar which is part of JDK (not JRE). 
It's probably an unneeded artifact, cf. MAPREDUCE-3624 and HADOOP-7374.

If JAVA_HOME is not set bin/nutch definitely refuses to work. I agree that 
setting an environment variable may be a little hurdle, however there are 
arguments in favour of using JAVA_HOME:
- I had to install Nutch on many customers' machines where the default java 
executable on PATH was not the correct one (>= 1.6): setting JAVA_HOME is more 
transparent than manipulating PATH. NUTCH_JAVA_HOME is even more explicit.
- back-ward compatibility: Nutch should be run by the same JVM as before, not 
accidentally by another one.
- staying parallel to Hadoop which still uses JAVA_HOME

Btw., let JAVA_HOME point to /usr/lib/jvm/default-java for Ubuntu's 
> JAVA_HOME should not be required
> --------------------------------
>                 Key: NUTCH-1345
>                 URL: https://issues.apache.org/jira/browse/NUTCH-1345
>             Project: Nutch
>          Issue Type: Improvement
>    Affects Versions: 1.4
>            Reporter: Ben McCann
>            Priority: Minor
>         Attachments: nutch, nutch.patch
> Trying to run Nutch spits out the message "Error: JAVA_HOME is not set."  I 
> already have java on my path, so I really wish I didn't need to set 
> JAVA_HOME.  It's an extra step to get up and running and is not updated by 
> Ubuntu's update-alternatives, so it makes it a lot harder to switch between 
> versions of Java.

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