Monday, December 02, 2013

How to install eclipse plugins on a machine that is cut off from the internet

Recently I have been using a proprietary eclipse plugin in a corporate environment. The plugin seems to assume java and windoze but the project was in unix-specific C/C++ and on linux. So I was faced with the task of setting up the plugin on linux. It was then I discovered that all the linux machines are cut off from the internet. What to do? I asked around and I amazed to discover that apparantly, no-one else has ever had to deal with this issue. Lots of people guessed that you just copy the jar files over from the plugins directory and restart eclipse. Wrong.

Copying files from the plugin directory plays a part in the solution but is by no means the be all and end all. For a start, sometimes the plugin is OS-specific, so it might contain DLLs (windoze) or shared libraries (UNIX). Any such plugin has to be obtained on the target machine somehow.

One of the main challenges of installing your own plugins without using a network connection is that you will have to chase down any dependencies. By default, eclipse does not tell you when there is a problem installing plugins but you really do need this information. Here is what you do:

create a file called .options which contains:

then enter this command:
./eclipse -clean -console -consoleDebug -debug ./.options

This produces output that tells you what troubles it had loading plugins.

Under the eclipse directory create a directory called dropins. It should be a peer of plugins and features. Below dropins create eclipse and below that create plugins and features.

For any plugins that are missing, copy them from a windows environment that has them. They can be directories, files or a combination of the two. Be careful to copy to the correct target directory, either dropins/eclipse/features or dropins/eclipse/plugins depending on where it comes from in the source. To copy them, using WinCp. This is often allowed in a corporate environment.

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