Calling Eclipse Debian and Ubuntu Users

A key finding in the recent Eclipse Community Survey was the significant increase of developers using Eclipse in Linux desktops; in participate Ubuntu and Debian.  However, the irony of this good news story is that the version of Eclipse on the Debian and Ubuntu distro is Eclipse 3.2, almost 3 years old?   Now it looks like from this bug, Eclipse is going to be removed completely from the Debian distro.  I can’t really blame them since no one should be using Eclipse 3.2 anyways.

Does anyone care if Eclipse remains on the Debian and Ubuntu distro? At JavaOne I meet some guys from Ubuntu that would be happy to help anyone who is interested in doing the Eclipse packaging work.  There is also the Eclipse Linux Tools project that attempts to make it easier to package Eclipsefor Linux  distros.

The other option I have heard is that Debian and Ubuntu users are happy to get Eclipse binaries from  This ensures you get the latest and greatest. Thoughts?

If anyone is interested in helping package Eclipse from Debian and Ubuntu, let me know and I will try to connect you to the appropriate people.

14 thoughts on “Calling Eclipse Debian and Ubuntu Users

  1. Although at work I don’t use Linux to run Eclipse (I use Windows), I’d love Eclipse Debian packages, *done right*.

    This means, basically, that you don’t go through P2/Update Manager to update Eclipse, that features are installed via apt-get, so that you can “apt-get install eclipse-jdt eclipse-wst eclipse-pdt” and get a working Eclipse with Java/j2EE/PHP development plugins enabled (and the minimal set of features/plugins needed to make them work), and you can get your updates in the same fashion.

    I guess this wouldn’t be as difficult as it seems, as the required metadata (dependencies) should already be there. You’d basically need a jar/OSGI to .deb process and you’d be halfway there. I believe rpm-stubby and Eclipse-build have this stuff sorted up.

    The important thing about that is getting some help from experienced Debian-devs, as their packaging is subtle, powerful and complex- on one hand, this means that building packages would be a difficult task, on the other, that they would be very useful (recommends/suggests and other stuff would be very nice).

  2. The problem is that if you install Eclipse using apt (or your favourite package management tool), it will do a system-wide install that can only be updated when it is ran as root. And the update would in fact take place in ~root/ because it’s not in the DPKG mantra to let software update itself (that’s what Debian stable is all about).

    There are other pieces of self-updating software in the same situation, for instance Firefox or Vuze/Azureus (which is an Eclipse RCP app), but they don’t require as much updating and user control on the install as Eclipse.

    My point is that any solution will end-up being not satisfying to most Eclipse users, except if some serious work is done both on APT and Eclipse’s side to unite the mess (I guess it’s a shortcoming of system-wide package managers, but I’m not an expert).

    I guess having Eclipse in the official repositories would increase visibility, because most Ubuntu and Debian users don’t get software from external sources.

    Personally as a long time Debian and Eclipse user, I don’t care much anymore, but I remember a time where I only installed the packaged Eclipse and it was a mess (because it was built natively with gjc which made it really buggy).

  3. I’m quite happy to use the binaries provided by eclipse and put them into my home directory (but I’m a home user, and don’t have to think about installing eclipse on a network for many users).

    I think that trying to integrate p2 into linux package management systems is more trouble than it’s worth (not to mention that p2 itself still needs some polish).

    If you want to get Eclipse into the distributions, provide only the bare minimum as a package (basically just the platform without any plug-ins), and let users install everything else using p2.

  4. No, not interested at all.


    Each user requires different eclipse plugins. Even on the same linux/windows machine I use multiple eclipse instances: one for plugin development, one for web application development, one for testing 3rd party plugins.

    Even if eclipse p2 could support this for one version of eclipse I still need 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, soon 3.5 and 3.6.

    For me it’s easier to just unzip eclipse in some folder and use it. There is no value in having eclipse packages for ubunto or debian.

  5. As a Ubuntu 9.04 user I would definitely be interested. My understanding is that p2 on Linux should use the same base platform and that features installed or upgraded through the p2 interface should be downloaded to the user’s folder–thus avoiding the need to escalate privileges. However I’ve never had a chance to test this because the Eclipse packages in Ubuntu’s repo hasn’t been updated since long before p2 existed.

  6. I’ve been running on ubuntu for a couple of years and happily pull the binaries direct from eclipse.

    One reason I do this (and will continue to do so regardless of any .deb packages) is that I have a few separate versions which I often run at the same time. One with flex builder, one for java / grails and one for php / python / ruby etc.

    I find it easier to manage my setup that way rather than using one eclipse ‘install’ with hundreds of plugins, projects and working sets.

    I think any effort should be put into making p2 better, that way everyone benefits

  7. I’m using Debian testing with Eclipse SDK milestones, and yes I would love to avoid even the little extra work of manually downloading of and setting up the zips (involving copy/rename/symlink,sometimes deleting old config). Having maybe have a proper starter script could be nice as well..
    Right now, Eclipse is the only piece of software on the full KDE desktop which requires manual fiddling. I do daily apt updates so everything else just works. Even java and some java-based programs are well integrated now.

    Mine is a desktop setup (with no other regular users), yet I prefer to install Eclipse to /usr/local, and keep it read-only (just as everything else: Emacs, OpenOffice,..)

    I keep the workspace and configuration in the $HOME of course, and whenever I install my extra plugin (like DLTK), P2 downloads them to ~/.eclipse.

    /*To be honest, I liked the pre-P2 way better: then I could easily set up extension locations both under /usr/local (to be shared by other users), or local ones in user homes.*/

    Still, either way, I don’t agree with the argument “if you install Eclipse system-wide, then you can’t update it locally”. I mean, by keeping your config in your home, you can/should be able to add/update plugins, and even plugins that are part of the shared install (not sure how safe that is though).

    I agree, however, that proper packaging needs more thought.

    For example: should we handle multiple versions? I think we should: there are people using stable releases, some prefer milestones (I guess nighlies are not an option here).
    Can P2 be set up using the drop-in directory to simulate ‘extension locations’ out of the box?

    Maybe a nice start would be to have a tool/scripts that pull down the tarball(s) and build/install a proper deb package. This ‘eclipse-package’ could follow well beaten path of kernel-package(, java-package(, and lots of others.

  8. I am also a user of Eclipse+Ubuntu. Since last year I have simply downloaded Eclipse packages from, and I have been quite happy with that “solution”.

    I think that Matthew Hall’s idea is on the right track (having plugins installed via P2 installed in a user space directory, and having some plugins sets installable via apt, similar to what Firefox does).

    However I am a little worried because of the volume of modifications that seem needed to make such an organization work with Eclipse.

    1. >> However I am a little worried because of the volume of modifications that seem needed
      >> to make such an organization work with Eclipse.
      As I mentioned above, shared install already works (if SDK is in read only area, P2 downloads everything to home).

      With this in mind, what would be so different if the base SDK was installed by apt/dpkg, as opposed to manual unzipping as root?

  9. What about different eclipse versions? If I need 3.4, 3.5 and I would like to play with 3.6. Can it be done easily with p2? What would one have to do?

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