Groovy Shell warning "Could not open/create prefs root node ..."

Dennis answer is correct. However I would like to explain the solution in a bit more detailed way (for Windows User):

  1. Go into your Start Menu and type regedit into the search field.
  2. Navigate to path HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\JavaSoft (Windows 10 seems to now have this here: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\WOW6432Node\JavaSoft)
  3. Right click on the JavaSoft folder and click on New -> Key
  4. Name the new Key Prefs and everything should work.

Alternatively, save and execute a *.reg file with the following content:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

I was able to resolve the problem by manually creating the following registry key:


This is actually a JDK bug. It has been reported several times over the years, but only in 8139507 was it finally taken seriously by Oracle.

The problem was in the JDK source code for In this class, both nodes userRoot and systemRoot were declared static as in:

 * User root node.
static final Preferences userRoot =

 * System root node.
static final Preferences systemRoot =

This means that the first time the class is referenced both static variables would be initiated and by this the Registry Key for HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\JavaSoft\Prefs (= system tree) will be attempted to be created if it doesn't already exist.

So even if the user took every precaution in his own code and never touched or referenced the system tree, then the JVM would actually still try to instantiate systemRoot, thus causing the warning. It is an interesting subtle bug.

There's a fix committed to the JDK source in June 2016 and it is part of Java9 onwards. There's also a backport for Java8 which is in u202.

What you see is really a warning from the JDK's internal logger. It is not an exception. I believe that the warning can be safely ignored .... unless the user code is indeed wanting the system preferences, but that is very rarely the case.

Bonus info

The bug did not reveal itself in versions prior to Java 1.7.21, because up until then the JRE installer would create Registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\JavaSoft\Prefs for you and this would effectively hide the bug. On the other hand you've never really been required to run an installer in order to have a JRE on your machine, or at least this hasn't been Sun/Oracle's intent. As you may be aware Oracle has been distributing the JRE for Windows in .tar.gz format for many years.