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Eclipse, Linux and Embedded

I read an interesting bit of commentary lately on Eclipse’s impact on the Embedded industry…

What a difference a decade makes. In 1999, every embedded systems tool provider who had an RTOS and a set of tools supported them with a proprietary integrated development environment (IDE), tying everything into a neat tightly connected tool chain.

Now, one of the last holdouts – Texas Instruments – has abandoned its proprietary IDE in favor of one based on open source Eclipse. The transition is complete, with virtually every major embedded software vendor supporting their own implementation of Eclipse, including Wind River, Green Hills, QNX, Lynux Works, Rapid Logic and Mentor Graphics, among others…

This is good news for Eclipse given that I view the embedded community tough as nails. These are folks that have an affinity for TCL and autotools. Ok, maybe that’s a generalization, but I still have nightmares dealing with autoconf and obscure m4 messages that were impossible to debug. In the commentary, the author asks, “What are some of the other things we can look forward to?” That’s a good question and I’m not really sure, but I have some things on my mind.

For embedded developers that live in the C/C++ world, the plan for Eclipse Helios (3.6) includes flexible resources

The Resource architecture that Eclipse uses has been criticized for being overly Java-centric and constraining for some use cases. The e4 incubator explored this problem and developed some concrete improvements to the resource model to address these problems. We will review and polish those changes and back-port them to Helios stream where appropriate.

Flexible resources should enable a new set of workflows for embedded developers that are used to other environments like Visual Studio. Here’s a webinar if you want to know more.

Another thing that may be interesting to embedded developers is the Linux Tools project at Eclipse which aims build on top of CDT and integrate popular native development tools such as the GNU Autotools, Valgrind, OProfile, RPM and Systemtap. If you browse the Linux Tools new and noteworthy page, you can easily see the great progress their making.

Can anyone think of other things that embedded developers can look forward to?

  • The big thing on the horizon is actually the GNU debugger version 7.0 whose many new features, such as multiple program contexts, being able to stop a single thread (at least on Linux), will be accessible through the CDT integration being built for it. Also look for improved support for cross-compilation as we clean up the build system a little.

    One thing to note, the embedded tools vendors are probably the Eclipse members that have bought into the Eclipse as a platform the most. The exciting things happening in this space, now that we have a rock solid platform, are mainly happening in the commercial products.

  • The big thing on the horizon is actually the GNU debugger version 7.0 whose many new features, such as multiple program contexts, being able to stop a single thread (at least on Linux), will be accessible through the CDT integration being built for it. Also look for improved support for cross-compilation as we clean up the build system a little.

    One thing to note, the embedded tools vendors are probably the Eclipse members that have bought into the Eclipse as a platform the most. The exciting things happening in this space, now that we have a rock solid platform, are mainly happening in the commercial products.

  • Chris Recoskie

    The original article is misleading. TI has had some Eclipse-based tools for some time now (I used to work on them), so I wouldn’t call them a holdout. It’s taken up until now though for them to move *all* their tools to Eclipse.

  • Chris Recoskie

    The original article is misleading. TI has had some Eclipse-based tools for some time now (I used to work on them), so I wouldn’t call them a holdout. It’s taken up until now though for them to move *all* their tools to Eclipse.

  • Andrew Overholt

    Thanks for the props for the Linux Tools project, Chris 🙂

  • Andrew Overholt

    Thanks for the props for the Linux Tools project, Chris 🙂

  • That’s true. The only hold out, or at least the most public one, is Green Hills. Actually, you can probably call Microsoft a hold out too, but everyone seems to forgive that since Visual Studio seems to be a pretty well liked by people ;).

  • That’s true. The only hold out, or at least the most public one, is Green Hills. Actually, you can probably call Microsoft a hold out too, but everyone seems to forgive that since Visual Studio seems to be a pretty well liked by people ;).

  • Mike Milinkovich

    Doug – Once upon a time at least Green Hills at least paid lip service to Eclipse. Remember this announce from 2005?

    http://www.ghs.com/news/20050912_eclipse.html

    And don’t forget their claim to offer the industry’s “…broadest Eclipse support”.

    http://www.ghs.com/download/articles/GHS_DSO_QA_062405.pdf

    Since I haven’t heard anything since 2005, my guess that their marketing claims fell into the chasm of reality 🙂

  • Mike Milinkovich

    Doug – Once upon a time at least Green Hills at least paid lip service to Eclipse. Remember this announce from 2005?

    http://www.ghs.com/news/20050912_eclipse.html

    And don’t forget their claim to offer the industry’s “…broadest Eclipse support”.

    http://www.ghs.com/download/articles/GHS_DSO_QA_062405.pdf

    Since I haven’t heard anything since 2005, my guess that their marketing claims fell into the chasm of reality 🙂

  • :). The GHS marketing machine is infamous. And that’s being kind…

  • :). The GHS marketing machine is infamous. And that’s being kind…