If you've ever looked for the one developer's tool that contains the proverbial "kitchen sink," look no further than Eclipse. Eclipse is more than an Integrated Development Environment (IDE); it's a full-package development system. Eclipse provides tools and frameworks for tasks such as development, deployment, profiling, and testing a wide variety of applications or code. It includes different plugins and projects for just about anything you might need. It's also cross-platform, so you can become familiar with one tool and use it on Linux, Windows, or Mac OS X.
To begin, visit the Eclipse download page and choose one of the Eclipse distro download pages. The Innoopract site is a good one, which allows you to download Eclipse as well as pick through a variety of plugins to go with it. The Innoopract site will grab all the other plugins that your selections depend on and create a custom downloadable file containing all of your chosen plugins.
When you've finished selecting the plugins you want, click the Download Now button. It will take a minute or two for your bundle to be prepared, and then you'll be downloading. Note that Eclipse requires Java; this shouldn't be a problem as most distributions make Java available. If Java isn't available with your distribution, it can be easily downloaded from http://www.java.com/en/download/manual.jsp.
Once the download has completed, and depending on the features and plugins you chose, it could take a few minutes. Take the generated tarball, and untar it. If you plan to use it for your own use, you could untar it in ~/bin/:
$ cd ~/bin
$ tar xvzf ~/Downloads/eclipse-linux-gtk-cf8bb39df8c0e5d8a1d2.tar.gz
Once it's untarred, you can fire up Eclipse by executing:
Once you've started the program and selected where your default workspace will live, you'll see the main Eclipse page, and from there you can begin to explore. The easiest way to begin seeing what Eclipse can do for you is to open a new example file and begin to experiment with its features. There are also tutorials and examples that can be viewed from the main welcome page as well.
Eclipse isn't your typical development environment and there will be a bit of a learning curve to become proficient with it; however, many developers swear by Eclipse, so it's definitely worth exploring the possibilities it may offer.
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