räph räph - 1 year ago 103
Java Question

How to allow running only one instance of a Java program at a time?

I need to prevent users from starting my Java application (WebStart Swing app) multiple times. So if the application is already running it shouldn't be possible to start it again or show a warning / be closed again.

Is there some convenient way to achieve this? I thought about blocking a port or write sth to a file. But hopefully you can access some system properties or the JVM?

btw. target platform is Windows XP with Java 1.5

Answer Source

I think your suggestion of opening a port to listen when you start your application is the best idea.

It's very easy to do and you don't need to worry about cleaning it up when you close your application. For example, if you write to a file but someone then kills the processes using Task Manager the file won't get deleted.

Also, if I remember correctly there is no easy way of getting the PID of a Java process from inside the JVM so don't try and formulate a solution using PIDs.

Something like this should do the trick:

private static final int PORT = 9999;
private static ServerSocket socket;    

private static void checkIfRunning() {
  try {
    //Bind to localhost adapter with a zero connection queue 
    socket = new ServerSocket(PORT,0,InetAddress.getByAddress(new byte[] {127,0,0,1}));
  catch (BindException e) {
    System.err.println("Already running.");
  catch (IOException e) {
    System.err.println("Unexpected error.");

This sample code explicitly binds to which should avoid any firewall warnings, as any traffic on this address must be from the local system.

When picking a port try to avoid one mentioned in the list of Well Known Ports. You should ideally make the port used configurable in a file or via a command line switch in case of conflicts.

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