Google opens wallet to support open source Eclipse

An Eclipse Foundation forum log posting has confirmed that Google has donated US$20,000 (£12,500) pounds to support the Eclipse IDE project.

NOTE: The Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE) for Java or Android applications is thought to have a market share of around 66% of the total Java development market. The open source Eclipse 4.2 release IDE ships with its own dedicated Java compiler and Java Development Tools are also available for ‘advanced development scenarios’ where Java source code is compiled outside of Eclipse.

Eclipse’s forum posting confirms Google’s benevolence as follows:

“Given the recently raised news concerning 4.2’s performance, and the loss of testing hardware previously provided by some member companies, Google’s Open Source Programs Office is sending the Eclipse Foundation a donation of $20,000 to purchase hardware and begin building a common testing lab.”

Let’s spend it on hardware.

While $20,000 is of course not much more than dinner money to Google, the Eclipse Foundation’s Ian Skerrett confirmed to Computer Weekly that, “It was great to have them step-up and help fund some hardware. Google is a great supporter of OSS and Eclipse communities.”

Google’s open source credentials are of course less than virgin white and the majority of its technologies remain under proprietary guardianship. Where it has dipped its toe into open source, it has at times left itself something of a black mark. The firm’s withdrawl of its Linux supporr for Picasa being a case in point.

Google’s blog last year confirmed the following:

“We launched a WINE-based version of Picasa for Linux in 2006 as a Google Labs project. As we continue to enhance Picasa, it has become difficult to maintain parity on the Linux version. So today, we’re deprecating Picasa for Linux and will not be maintaining it moving forward. Users who have downloaded and installed older versions of Picasa for Linux can continue to use them, though we won’t be making any further updates.”

Is Google open source washing then?

The firm has famously used a large amount of open technologies to power its servers so this donation arguably stops short of thoroughbred altruism and philanthropy. That said, this donation will help massively, of that there is no doubt.

Give until it hurts Google, make it $200,000 next time.