Open SourceEclipse Foundation Expands Runtime Efforts

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The open source Eclipse Foundation isn’t just about Java tooling development anymore.

Today at the EclipseCon event, the Eclipse Foundation announced the expansion of its EclipseRT top-level project with Gemini and Virgo, a pair of newly approved projects that both provide implementations of the OSGi (Open Services Gateway initiative) runtime.

With the new projects, Eclipse is continuing to build on the EclipseRT foundation it started two years ago when the top-level project made its debut.

“What Eclipse did in the tools space was provide a common core framework platform that a community of commercial and open source vendors can grow up around that are adding value on top of the platform,” Ian Skerrett, director of marketing at the Eclipse Foundation, told “What we set out to do two years ago was to do that same thing in the runtime middleware space. We’ve made some really good progress so far.”

In some ways, there is the potential for overlap between the two projects, though they can also be viewed as being complementary to each other, he said.

“Our vision of RT is that you have modular functionality … if you want to use it, you bring it into your stack,” Skerrett said. “You don’t have to take everything that is offered. You take what you need.”

Skerrett explained that Gemini is focused more on enterprise services and features like logging while Virgo is more concentrated on existing Web-based server applications that developers want to run in a modular environment.

The Eclipse Gemini project within EclipseRT is based on some new standards and services in OSGi that are targeted at enterprise developers. The effort is led by Oracle with the help of VMware’s SpringSource division.

On the other hand, the Virgo project, which was proposed by SpringSource at the beginning of the year, and which includes SpringSource’s dm Server, an OSGi-compliant Java server. Since then, while Virgo was still in the proposal stage, Skerrett said the project benefited from community feedback that helped shape its direction.

“One example of the feedback we got on Virgo is that it had support for Apache Tomcat, but there is another Java servlet engine called Jetty, which is an Eclipse project,” Skerrett said. “So there was a conversation about how Virgo would provide support for Jetty and that issue got resolved as part of the process for reviewing the project proposal for Virgo.”

In terms of commercial adoption of EclipseRT components to date, Skerrett said that the next generation Java application servers from IBM, SAP and Oracle are all using the EclipseRT Equinox runtime project as a base.

“So that’s the exciting thing about EclipseRT, that the core infrastructure vendors are committed and using the base platform now,” Skerrett said. “I think we’ll see more and more vendors providing value-add functionality on top.”

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

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