Open SourceEclipse Community Survey Shows Open Source Dev Trends

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What platforms and tools are open source developers using in 2010? A new study from the Eclipse Foundation provides a few clues.

The Eclipse Foundation study compiled responses from 1,696 developers and provides insights into current open source development practices. Among the findings in the Eclipse report is that developers are increasingly turning to Linux as a platform for both deployment and development.

For the 2010 report, 32.7 percent of survey respondents reported that they used Linux as their development operating system. The 2010 figure is an increase over the 2009 study when 26.9 percent of respondents identified Linux as their development platform operating system of choice. Overall, Windows remains the top development platform in Eclipse’s study at 58.3 percent, which is a decline from the 64.3 percent reported for 2009.

Among the respondents that use Linux for development, Ubuntu was the leading distribution at 18.3 percent followed by Fedora at only 4.7 percent. The increasing use of Linux by Eclipse developers isn’t necessarily the result of a drive by Eclipse towards the Linux desktop.

“I actually think it is more a sign that Linux is gaining adoption on the desktop,” Ian Skerrett, director of marketing at the Eclipse Foundation, told “Eclipse is improving the Linux tools experience, but I don’t think this drives the decision on which operating system developers use on their desktop.”

From a deployment perspective, Linux is the leader at 44 percent with Windows trailing at 39 percent. In terms of the Java application servers that developers are using, respondents identified Apache Tomcat as the leader at 33.8 percent, followed by JBoss at 10.5 percent and IBM Websphere at 5.1 percent.

Oracle’s open source MySQL database was the primary database used by the Eclipse survey respondents, coming in at 31.8 percent. Oracle’s namesake proprietary database was in second place at 21.6 percent. The Eclipse survey also found that Oracle database users were more likely to use Windows as their development desktop whereas MySQL users were more likely to use Linux.

From a language perspective, the Eclipse Foundation and its namesake IDE have been mostly Java focused, though in recent years other languages have come into the foundation. For example, the PDT (PHP Developer Tools) project is a PHP project run by the Eclipse Foundation. The new Eclipse survey found that 30 percent of respondents were using PHP. Respondents also identified other non-Java language that they were using including C/C++ at 36 percent, JavaScript at 35 percent and Python at 20 percent.

When it comes to core Java development that is where the Eclipse IDE plays a key role. The Eclipse Foundation issues a new Eclipse release every year and the study found that 75.5 percent of survey respondents were using the most recent Galileo release. As to why, respondents were on the most recent version, Skerret noted that in his view, the main reason is that Eclipse’s annual release train makes it relatively painless to use the most current version. The Eclipse release train occurs every year and includes an update to the core IDE in addition to over 30 Eclipse projects.

“Having a consistent release date for the different projects, means users can upgrade once for all their projects,” Skerrett said.

Managing source code

Managing the source code used by projects is where Source Code Management (SCM) software comes into play. For Eclipse survey respondents, 58.3 percent identified Subversion as their SCM followed by CVS at 12.6 percent. Git, which is the SCM used by Linux kernel developers among others, came in at 6.8 percent and Mercurial usage was reported by 3 percent of respondents. Looking forward to the 2011 study, Skerrett said he expects to see adoption growth for Git and Mercurial. Another area where he expects to see growth is in cloud computing among Eclipse users.

“For cloud computing, I would expect we will see growth in adoption or planned adoption,” Skerrett said. “Right now it is at 29.5 percent but I would expect it to grow. “

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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