26 Dec 2002

Free Eclipse!

The last couple of days have been really nice. This weekend two of my friends, Vincent Partington and Erwin Bolwidt come over for a weekend of free software hacking. They were both really enthusiastic about Eclipse for developing in java. Since Tom tromey already mentioned that he got Eclipse starting up once using GNU gcj I thought it was a cool idea to try to get Eclipse running some more. I was really surprised how well it already ran and that weekend we came up with a couple of patches that made most of Eclipse actually run. Then on Monday Anthony Green supplied a patch to get the Garbage collector working and now a couple of days (and patches) later a non-trivial amount of Eclipse seems to work (although slow and with occasional lockups, so it isn’t actually usable yet for real work).

It will still be very much work to make Eclipse really usable on top of GNU gcj and GNU Classpath but I do see light at the end of the tunnel. I am really happy that the years of work of the GNU Classpath and gcj hackers have produced a free java platform that is now finally usable for such big projects (Fun trivia fact: When Eclipse wants to show its help pages it starts up a Tomcat server and a Mozilla browser to view the JSP pages. And this works under gij!).

I made a page with instructions to run Eclipse with gij and some screenshots (which show how nicely Eclipse looks – since it uses GTK+ widgets). Please look at it if you want to help us make Eclipse more usable on gcj (or just for the very nice code completion screenshot).