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Packaging Eclipse Plugins


  • Plugin1: A functional unit of Eclipse functionality. Post-Eclipse 3.0, the term "plugin" can almost always be interchanged with the term "bundle" which itself is shorthand for "OSGi bundle".
  • Plugin2: The colloquial name given to a set of functional Eclipse plugins ex. "CDT". More common usage among non-Eclipse developers than the above definition.
  • Feature: A collection of plugin1s.
  • Fragment: A bundle with native elements ex. org.eclipse.core.filesystem.linux.${arch}


Eclipse is a modular platform that can be used for building everything from server-side applications to full-blown graphical applications like the Eclipse IDE and Lotus Notes. Each of the modular blobs is referred to as a plugin or a bundle. In a nutshell, the system itself is a small runtime (Equinox) based on the OSGi specifications [see for more information] which loads and runs a given list of bundles. Most people think of Eclipse as a programming integrated development environment (IDE). This document details best practices for packaging Eclipse IDE plugins. Examples include adding Subversion functionality (eclipse-subclipse) and tools for tracking your tasks (eclipse-mylyn).


Eclipse plugin packages MUST be named eclipse-<projectname>. For example, a package of the anyedit plugin for Eclipse would by named eclipse-anyedit.

Binary RPM naming

If a project provides multiple features, package each of the features as a separate binary plugin, matching the naming and grouping of plugins directly.

Group Tag

There is no single Group tag for Eclipse plugins. Choose a Group that best fits the plugin and satisfies rpmlint. Some of the existing Groups include:

System Environment/Libraries


Obtaining source for Eclipse plugins is sometimes difficult. Most projects do not release source tarballs so it is often necessary to create an archive from a source revision control system. Ensure that instructions for reproducing the source archive are included in comments in the specfile. These instructions can take the form of either explicit instructions as in eclipse-cdt or be put into a separate shell script as in eclipse-rpm-editor .

Remember that Eclipse plugin packages, like all Fedora software packages, must be built from source, and cannot contain any "pre-built" binary components.


Eclipse plugins SHOULD be built with the Eclipse Plugin Development Environment (PDE; PDE Build specifically) because these builds are generally easier to maintain. ant builds are acceptable, but are generally more difficult to maintain. Following what upstream does is the best practice.


As of Fedora 9, there is a script that makes invoking PDE Build easy: /usr/share/eclipse/buildscripts/pdebuild:

usage: /usr/share/eclipse/buildscripts/pdebuild [<options>] 

Use PDE Build to build Eclipse features

Optional arguments:
-h      Show this help message
-f      Feature ID to build
-d      Plugin dependencies in addition to Eclipse SDK
(space-separated, names on which to glob features and plugins)
-a      Additional build arguments (ex. -DjavacSource=1.5)
-j      VM arguments (ex. -DJ2SE-1.5=%{_jvmdir}/java/jre/lib/rt.jar)
-v      Be verbose
-D      Debug platform itself (passes -consolelog -debug to Eclipse)

Stop (medium size).png Note: PDE Build must be called explicitly in Fedora 8 and earlier (including EPEL 5). The following snippet may be used to replace the pdebuild call in the template:

/bin/sh -x %{eclipse_base}/buildscripts/copy-platform SDK %{eclipse_base} <other dependencies ex. cdt>
mkdir home
SDK=$(cd SDK > /dev/null && pwd)

homedir=$(cd home > /dev/null && pwd)

java -cp $SDK/startup.jar                              \
-Dosgi.sharedConfiguration.area=%{_libdir}/eclipse/configuration  \
org.eclipse.core.launcher.Main                    \
-application org.eclipse.ant.core.antRunner       \
-Dtype=feature                                    \
-Did=org.eclipse.plugin_feature                   \
-DbaseLocation=$SDK                               \
-DsourceDirectory=$(pwd)                          \
-DbuildDirectory=$(pwd)/build                     \
-Dbuilder=%{eclipse_base}/plugins/ \
<additional build arguments ex. -DjavacSource=1.5>
-f %{eclipse_base}/plugins/ \
-vmargs -Duser.home=$homedir                      \
<additional VM arguments ex. -DJ2SE-1.5=%{_jvmdir}/java/jre/lib/rt.jar>


The copy-platform script is in a different location on RHEL 5 than it is in Fedora. If calling copy-platform explicitly, the following snippet may be useful to facilitate Eclipse plugins for EPEL 5:

%if 0%{?rhel} == 5
/bin/sh -x %{_libdir}/eclipse/buildscripts/copy-platform SDK %{eclipse_base}
/bin/sh -x %{eclipse_base}/buildscripts/copy-platform SDK %{eclipse_base}

File Locations

All plugin jars should go into %{_datadir}/eclipse/plugins and features should go into %{_datadir}/eclipse/features. The only exception is for fragments which should go into %{_libdir}/eclipse/plugins (and features if applicable).

Arch vs. noarch

While many Eclipse plugins will be architecture-independent, please follow the ["Packaging/GCJGuidelines"] with regards to gcj ahead-of-time compilation. As those guidelines specify, gcj-compiled packages are arch-dependent and are thus not noarch.

Things to avoid

Pre-built binaries

If Eclipse plugins depend upon third party libraries (and licensing permits it), developers often include these libraries directly in their source control system. In this case, the libraries must exist as other packages in Fedora and their contents (such as their jars) be symlinked from within the source and build trees of the Eclipse plugin being packaged. While it may make source archives smaller in size if they are cleansed of these pre-built files, it is not necessary to do so unless the libraries themselves are not redistributable. Binary RPMs MUST NOT include pre-built files.

Note.png A simple check which may be run at the end of %prep (courtesy David Walluck (I think that's who gave it to Ben Konrath)):

for j in $(find -name \*.jar); do
if [ ! -L $j ] ; then
if [ ! -z "$JARS" ] ; then
echo "These jars should be deleted and symlinked to system jars: $JARS"
exit 1

Differing from upstream

Plugins that are jarred should remain jarred and those that are expanded should be expanded in their RPM. There are two cases (that we can think of as of this writing) that warrant diverging from upstream: 1. Symlinking to a binary jar from another package 1. Expanding a jar to allow for symlinking to a binary jar from another package

See below for a tip on how to deal with the expanded jar case.

Specfile Template

%define eclipse_base        %{_datadir}/eclipse

Name:           eclipse-plugin
Version:        1.0
Release:        1%{?dist}
Summary:        Plugin provides such and such functionality for the Eclipse IDE.

Group:          Development/Tools
License:        EPL
Source0:        org.eclipse.plugin-TAG-fetched-src.tar.bz2
BuildRoot:      %{_tmppath}/%{name}-%{version}-%{release}-root-%(%{__id_u} -n)
Arch:           noarch

BuildRequires:  java-devel >= 1.5.0
BuildRequires:  eclipse-pde
Requires:       eclipse-platform

Plugin provides such and such functionality for the Eclipse IDE.
Specific functionality b is provided in %{name}-b.

%package b
Summary: b functionality for plugin
Requires: %{name} = %{version}-%{release}
Group: Development/Tools

%description b
%{name}-b enhances plugin with b-specific functionality.

%setup -q org.eclipse.plugin

%{eclipse_base}/buildscripts/pdebuild -f org.eclipse.plugin_feature

%{eclipse_base}/buildscripts/pdebuild -f org.eclipse.plugin.b_feature

install -d -m 755 $RPM_BUILD_ROOT%{eclipse_base}
unzip -q -d $RPM_BUILD_ROOT%{eclipse_base}/.. \
unzip -q -d $RPM_BUILD_ROOT%{eclipse_base}/.. \


%dir %{eclipse_base}/features/org.eclipse.plugin_feature_*
%doc %{eclipse_base}/features/org.eclipse.plugin_feature_*/license.html
%doc %{eclipse_base}/features/org.eclipse.plugin_feature_*/about.html
%doc %{eclipse_base}/features/org.eclipse.plugin_feature_*/epl-v10.html

%files b
%dir %{eclipse_base}/features/org.eclipse.plugin.b_feature_*
%doc %{eclipse_base}/features/org.eclipse.plugin.b_feature_*/license.html
%doc %{eclipse_base}/features/org.eclipse.plugin.b_feature_*/epl-v10.html

* Fri Feb 29 2008 Andrew Overholt <> 1.0-1
- Initial Fedora package

Tips and Notes

Common Defines

%define eclipse_base %{_datadir}/eclipse and, if necessary %define eclipse_lib_base %{_libdir}/eclipse.


Until rpmstubby (see below) is released and/or more widespread, Requires on bits provided by the Eclipse SDK (RCP, SWT, Platform, JDT, PDE, CVS, etc.) should only be on the binary package providing the required functionality (ex. eclipse-cvs-client or eclipse-rcp). For IDE features, the most common requirement will be eclipse-platform.

Features vs. Plugins

Eclipse features are groups of plugins. They are preferred, but not required since they provide nice demarcation lines for binary RPMs. We generally try to make binary RPMs mirror upstream features. Eclipse features also work nicely with rpmstubby (see below), but not all plugins have features.

JAR Expansion

In rare cases it may be necessary to symlink to something inside a JAR. This situation is often referred to as "nested JARs". If the plugin code itself is not enclosed in a nested JAR, expansion will result in a directory structure containing class files. This is best illustrated with an example:

$ unzip -l org.eclipse.mylyn.web.core_2.2.0.I20071220-1700.jar | grep jar$
46725  12-20-07 20:08   lib-httpclient/commons-codec-1.3.jar
279781  12-20-07 20:08   lib-httpclient/commons-httpclient-3.0.1.jar
38015  12-20-07 20:08   lib-httpclient/commons-logging-1.0.4.jar
26202  12-20-07 20:08   lib-httpclient/commons-logging-api-1.0.4.jar
153253  12-20-07 20:08   lib-rome/jdom-1.0.jar
197290  12-20-07 20:08   lib-rome/rome-0.8.jar
26624  12-20-07 20:08   lib-xmlrpc/ws-commons-util-1.0.1-sources.jar
34840  12-20-07 20:08   lib-xmlrpc/ws-commons-util-1.0.1.jar
35142  12-20-07 20:08   lib-xmlrpc/xmlrpc-client-3.0-sources.jar
43312  12-20-07 20:08   lib-xmlrpc/xmlrpc-client-3.0.jar
91225  12-20-07 20:08   lib-xmlrpc/xmlrpc-common-3.0-sources.jar
98051  12-20-07 20:08   lib-xmlrpc/xmlrpc-common-3.0.jar

Note that we have embedded jars which we would like to turn into symlinks to existing jars (from other packages). If we simply unzip the plugin jar and symlink, one would think we would be okay:

$ unzip -qq org.eclipse.mylyn.web.core_2.2.0.I20071220-1700.jar
$ rm !$
$ ls
about.html  lib-httpclient  lib-rome  lib-xmlrpc  META-INF  org
$ <do symlinking here>

However, we end up with the plugin classes themselves being expanded in the org directory. Bug #273881 causes build failures when building debuginfo packages in this case. The acceptable workaround is to modify the file in the plugin to jar the plugin code separately (ex. mylyn-webcore.jar) and include it within this expanded plugin directory. An example of this work-around can be seen in eclipse-mylyn (specifically the patches related to org.eclipse.mylyn.webcore).


OSGi bundles contain metadata just like RPMs do. This metadata can be used to automatically generate Provides and Requires similar to how it is done for mono packages. This functionality exists in Fedora's current rpm package but requires some investigation as at the time of this writing it does not appear to be functioning properly.


rpmstubby is a small project that is part of the linuxdistros project at Its aim is to make packaging Eclipse plugins as RPMs extremely simple. It is still in its infancy, but specfiles for packages like eclipse-mylyn were originally stubbed out using it. It is hoped that it can soon be provided as a tool to Fedora packagers. Help is always welcome on the project and it can be checked out of svn here: svn://