I just set JAVA_HOME to the output of that command, which should give you the Java path specified in your Java preferences. Here’s a snippet from my .bashrc file, which sets this variable:

export JAVA_HOME=$(/usr/libexec/java_home)

I haven’t experienced any problems with that technique.

Occasionally I do have to change the value of JAVA_HOME to an earlier version of Java. For example, one program I’m maintaining requires 32-bit Java 5 on OS X, so when using that program, I set JAVA_HOME by running:

export JAVA_HOME=$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v 1.5)

For those of you who don’t have java_home in your path add it like this.

sudo ln -s /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/Current/Commands/java_home /usr/libexec/java_home

References:

  • Oracle explains the java_home command

  • An article for configuring the JDK in Spring Tool Suite (Eclipse
    2019) on MacOS