Linux Distros, The Great Melting Pot

I’ve been talking a deeper look at Fedora lately as Fedora 12 was just released and I was checking out all the MinGW cross-development packages available there. While I was there I looked across all the packages included in the “Everything” folder. I even gave eclipse-cdt a try and was impressed to see 6.0.0 there (although 6.0.1 would have been more impressive ;)). It’s also impressive to see so many of the Eclipse projects represented there. And just looking at the breadth of open source content, almost every open source project I’ve looked at is included, including the bullet physics engine, OGRE and Irrlicht game engines, blender the 3D modeling tool, clutter and mutter and even an early preview of the new Gnome Shell.

It’s an incredibly rich set of libraries and tools, and it’s got me jazzed for Linux again. And given the corporate virus scanner has finally found my Windows 7 install and is doing it’s best effort to kill performance, I’m thinking again of going back. Windows 7 is pretty and I’m very productive in it, but I can see that the Gnome Shell has some of those same characteristics as I played with it on the Dell Mini.

The Linux distros are a great melting pot of open source technologies, and I think Eclipse is perfectly positioned to be the IDE of choice to work with those treasures. But playing with it, there are still a lot of architectural challenges we need to overcome to get there. Even just loading Photran (the Fortran tooling) and CDT together is a mess as both projects try to present pages for the properties. The big challenge we face in the Eclipse community is working together to make this better. I’ve mentioned this before, but the projects really do operate as silos, even Photran and CDT and we’ve tried hard not to do that, it’s just too easy.

But it takes a group of people with the vision and the gumption to drive that vision home. I’d like the Eclipse Architecture Council to be that but as with all things Eclipse, it’s really up to committers and the vendors that pay them to make this happen. Here’s hoping someone does.