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What Eclipse “Europa” means for Linux device devs

Jun 28, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

The open source Eclipse tools project will orchestrate a massive, coordinated release on June 29. Among the “Europa” releases' 21 constituent sub-project releases, four are significant to Linux device developers, according to Doug Gaff, leader of's Device Software Development Project.

Eclipse comprises dozens of projects all operating as independent open source projects. Once every summer, a coordinated release is organized, so that users can check out new features without version incompatibility issues. Last year's co-release was code-named Callisto, while next year's is dubbed “Ganymede.”

Of the 21 separate project revisions being released tomorrow, Gaff identified four as being of special interest to Linux device developers.

  • C/C++ Development Tool (CDT) 4.0 — This release matters because “uptake of CDT in the embedded space is almost universal,” Gaff said. Furthermore, CDT is “by far the best IDE out there for Linux development in general,” he asserted, noting that “many embedded applications start out on the desktop or servers.”

    For its part, the CDT team calls its 4.0 release “the biggest since [CDT] was first contributed to open source,” warning testers that there could be “a lot of churn.” Planned features for the release, as of last fall, were listed here.

  • Target Management (TM) 2.0 — This release is significant because it adds “APIs and frameworks to enable additional commercial adoption — enabling vendors to add custom subsystems for a particular RTOS, for example,” Gaff said. TM aims to “augment what's missing” in CDT for device development, he explained, citing functions such as remote filesystem management, remote access, and remote debugging.

    New features in TM 2.0 boil down to:

    • “DNS/SD discovery,” a collection of “techniques for auto-discovery of targets on a network,” Gaff said, explaining “If you have a pool of things you need to access — deployed board labs, network control centers, etc. — it will find what's out there.”
    • FTP listing parser, designed to “take a standard FTP directory listing, and parse it into data structures usable by the Eclipse framework.”
    • Eclipse filesystem provider, which adds support for symbolic links and remote filesystems
    • Shell process subsystem, aimed at letting users add ssh or proprietary protocols to Eclipse's telnet function and “still get terminal emulation on top of that,” Gaff said.

    Not surprisingly, given the features noted above, TM can also be used in field service applications for servers and devices, Gaff confirmed. “It's showing up in a lot of places we didn't expect,” he said.

  • Device Debugger 0.9 (DD) — The DD project chose to ready a Europa build even though an initial 1.0 release remains a month or more away. “We decided to board the Europa train to get it into the open,” Gaff said.

    Compared to Eclipse's current generic debug interface, DD aims to open the IDE up to greater customization, paving the way toward support for more complex debuggers. In particular, this could help commercial debugger vendors such as Wind River that are working on multi-core support, Gaff suggested. “When you move away from GDB, or when you move beyond process-oriented debugging to a multi-process model, then you need a central debugger model that is more customizable.”

    Originally conceived for device software development, DD may wind up being used more widely, with the 1.0 milestone likely slated for use in CDT, Gaff added. “I am kind of hoping the projects merge. The debug services portion of DD belongs in some combination of Platform and CDT,” he said.

    One especially noteworthy feature in DD 0.9 will be an XML editor and schema parser for IP-XACT. This XML document type definition aims to help chipmakers describe their SoCs in a standardized way, streamlining new chip debugger support. “Compared to having developers track down and translate manuals,” Gaff said, “there's lots of potential, from an industry point of view.”

  • Mylyn (formerly Mylar) 2.0 — Mylyn is a simple to-do list aimed at saving developers time when switching between tasks. “This is not specifically embedded, but it's very useful,” Gaff explained. “Say someone filed a bug. You create a task, and it's associated with a Bugzilla entry, resources in CVS, and a perspective in Eclipse. Now, when you select the task, the rest of the GUI snaps into place.”

Other components of the Europa release likely to please some Linux device developers include modeling tools and the new TPTP (test & performance tools platform) release, Gaff said.

Regarding when can we expect some of Europa's new features arrive in commercial IDEs from embedded Linux vendors, Gaff said, “Some vendors will start advertising products based on Europa as soon as a month from now. Of course, vendors that are really engaged with Eclipse, and doing lots of stuff downstream, probably won't ship before the fall.”

More details about the Europa release can be found on the Eclipse website, here.

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