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The Eclipse runtime options

Last modified 14:45 Wednesday August 4, 2004

The Eclipse platform is highly configurable. Configuration input takes the form of command line arguments and System property settings. In many cases the command line arguments are simply short cuts for setting the related System properties. In fact, there are many more System property settings than command line arguments.

Command line arguments

Listed below are the command line arguments processed by various parts of the Eclipse runtime. Many of these values can also be specified using System properties either on the command line using -D VM arguments or by specifying there values in a config.ini file. Using this latter technique it is possible to customize your Eclipse without using command line arguments at all.

For each argument in the list, its corresponding System property key is given (in {}). Also given is the Eclipse runtime layer in which the command line argument is processed (in ()). This is useful for people replacing parts of the runtime to suit special needs.

-application <id> (Runtime)
equivalent to setting eclipse.application to <id>
-arch <architecture> (OSGi)
equivalent to setting osgi.arch to <architecture>
-clean (OSGi) NEW
equivalent to setting osgi.clean to "true"
-configuration <location> (Main)
equivalent to setting osgi.configuration.area to <location>
-console [port] (OSGi) NEW
equivalent to setting osgi.console to [port] or the empty string if the default port is to be used (i.e., when the port is not specified)
-consoleLog (Runtime)
equivalent to setting eclipse.consoleLog to "true"
-data <location> (OSGi)
equivalent to setting osgi.instance.area to <location>
-debug [options file] (OSGi)
equivalent to setting osgi.debug to [options file] or the empty string to simply enable debug (i.e., if the options file location is not specified)
-dev [entries] (OSGi)
equivalent to setting osgi.dev to [entries] or the empty string to simply enable dev mode (i.e., if entries are not specified)
-endSplash <command> (Main)
specifies the command to use to take down the splash screen. Typically supplied by the Eclipse executable.
-feature <feature id> (Runtime)
equivalent to setting eclipse.product to <feature id>
-framework <location> (Main) NEW
equivalent to setting osgi.framework to <location>
-initialize (Main)
initializes the configuration being run. All runtime related data structures and caches are refreshed. Any user/plug-in defined configuration data is not purged. No application is run, any product specifications are ignored and no UI is presented (e.g., the splash screen is not drawn)
-install <location> (Main)
equivalent to setting osgi.install.area to <location>
-keyring <location> (Runtime)
the location of the authorization database on disk. This argument has to be used together with the -password argument.
-nl <locale> (OSGi)
equivalent to setting osgi.nl to <locale>
-noLazyRegistryCacheLoading (Runtime)
equivalent to setting eclipse.noLazyRegistryCacheLoading to "true"
-noRegistryCache (Runtime)
equivalent to setting eclipse.noRegistryCache to "true"
-noSplash (Executable, Main)
controls whether or not the splash screen is shown
-os <operating system> (OSGi)
equivalent to setting osgi.os to <operating system>
-password <password> (Runtime)
the password for the authorization database
-pluginCustomization <location> (Runtime)
equivalent to setting eclipse.pluginCustomization to <location>
-product <id> (OSGi) NEW
equivalent to setting eclipse.product to <id>
-showSplash <command> (Main)
specifies the command to use to show the splash screen. Typically supplied by the Eclipse executable.
-user <location> (OSGi) NEW
equivalent to setting osgi.user.area to <location>
-vm <path to java executable> (Executable, Main) NEW
when passed to the Eclipse executable, this option is used to locate the Java VM to use to run Eclipse. It must be the full filesystem path to an appropriate Java executable. If not specified, the Eclipse executable uses a search algorithm to locate a suitable VM. In any event, the executable then passes the path to the actual VM used to Java Main using the -vm argument. Java Main then stores this value in eclipse.vm.
-vmargs [vmargs*] (Executable, Main) NEW
when passed to the Eclipse, this option is used to customize the operation of the Java VM to use to run Eclipse. If specified, this option must come at the end of the command line. Even if not specified on the executable command line, the executable will automatically add the relevant arguments (including the class being launched) to the command line passed into Java using the -vmargs argument. Java Main then stores this value in eclipse.vmargs.
-ws <window system> (OSGi)
equivalent to setting osgi.ws to <window system>

Obsolete command line arguments

The following command line arguments are no longer relevant or have been superceded and are consumed by the runtime and not passed on to the application being run to maintain backward compatibility. .

-boot
see -configuration
-classLoaderProperties
no longer relevant
-firstUse
no longer relevant
-newUpdates
no longer relevant
-noPackagePrefixes
no longer relevant
-noUpdate
no longer relevant
-plugins
no longer relevant
-update
no longer relevant

Others

The following command line arguments are defined by various Eclipse plug-ins and are only supported if the defining plug-in is installed, resolved and activated.

-noVersionCheck (workbench)
<description>
-perspective (workbench)
<description>
-refresh (org.eclipse.core.resources)
<description>
-showLocation (org.eclipse.ui.ide.workbench)
<description>
-allowDeadlock
<description>

System properties

The following System properties are used by the Eclipse runtime. Note that those starting with "osgi" are specific to the OSGi framework implementation while those starting with "eclipse" are particular to the Eclipse runtime layered on top of the OSGi framework.

Many of these properties have command line equivalents (see the command line arguments section and the value in braces {}). Users are free to use either command line or property settings to specify a value. Properties can be set in the following ways:

  • use -DpropName=propValue as a VM argument to the Java VM
  • set the desired property in the config.ini file in the appropriate configuration area
eclipse.application {-application}
the identifier of the application to run. The value given here overrides any application defined by the product (see eclipse.product) being run
eclipse.commands
sdf
eclipse.consoleLog
if "true", any log output is also sent to Java's System.out (typically back to the command shell if any). Handy when combined with -debug
eclipse.debug.startupTime
the time in milliseconds when the Java VM for this session was started
eclipse.exitcode
<description>
eclipse.exitdata
<description>
eclipse.manifestConverter
the class name of the manifest converter class to use when converting legacy plugin.xml files to manifest.mf files
eclipse.noExtensionMunging
if "true", legacy registry extension are left as-is. By default such extensions are updated to use the new extension point ids found in Eclipse 3.0.
eclipse.noLazyRegistryCacheLoading {-noLazyRegistryCacheLoading}
if "true", the platform's plug-in registry cache loading optimization is deactivated. By default, configuration elements are loaded from the registry cache (when available) only on demand, reducing memory footprint. This option forces the registry cache to be fully loaded at startup.
eclipse.noRegistryCache {-noRegistryCache}
if "true", the internal extension registry cache is neither read or written
eclipse.pluginCustomization {-pluginCustomization}
the file system location of a properties file containing default settings for plug-in preferences. These default settings override default settings specified in the primary feature. Relative paths are interpreted relative to the current working directory for eclipse itself.
eclipse.product {-product}
the identifier of the product being run. This controls various branding information and what application is used.
eclipse.vm {-vm}
the path to the Java executable used to run Eclipse. This information is used to construct relaunch command lines.
eclipse.vmargs {-vmargs}
lists the VM arguments used to run Eclipse. This information is used to construct relaunch command lines.
osgi.adaptor
the class name of the OSGi framework adaptor to use.
osgi.arch {-arch}
see -arch
osgi.baseConfiguration.area
asf
osgi.bundles
The comma-separated list of bundles which are automatically installed and optionally started once the system is up and running. Each entry is of the form:
    <URL | simple bundle location>[@ [<start-level>] [":start"]]
If the start-level (>0 integer) is omitted then the framework will use the default start level for the bundle. If the "start" tag is added then the bundle will be marked as started after being installed. Simple bundle locations are interepreted as relative to the framework's parent directory. The start-level indicates the OSGi start level at which the bundle should run. If this value is not set, the system computes an appropriate default.
osgi.clean
if set to "true", any cached data used by the OSGi framework and eclipse runtime will be wiped clean. This will clean the caches used to store bundle dependency resolution and eclipse extension registry data. Using this option will force eclipse to reinitialize these caches.
osgi.configuration.cascaded
if set to "true", this configuration is cascaded to a parent configuration. See the section on locations for more details.
osgi.configuration.area {-configuration}
the configuration location for this run of the platform. The configuration determines what plug-ins will run as well as various other system settings. See the section on locations for more details.
osgi.configuration.area.default
the default configuration location for this run of the platform. The configuration determines what plug-ins will run as well as various other system settings. This value (i.e., the default setting) is only used if no value for the osgi.configuration.area is set. See the section on locations for more details.
osgi.console {-console}
if set to a non-null value, the OSGi console (if installed) is enabled. If the value is a suitable integer, it is interpreted as the port on which the console listens and directs its output to the given port. Handy for investigating the state of the system.
osgi.console.class
the class name of the console to run if requested
osgi.debug {-debug}
if set to a non-null value, the platform is put in debug mode. If the value is a string it is interpreted as the location of the .options file. This file indicates what debug points are available for a plug-in and whether or not they are enabled. If a location is not specified, the platform searches for the .options file under the install directory.
osgi.dev {-dev}
if set to the empty string, dev mode is simply turned on. This property may also be set to a comma-separated class path entries which are added to the class path of each plug-in or a URL to a Java properties file containing custom classpath additions for a set of plug-ins. For each plug-in requiring a customized dev time classpath the file will contain an entry of the form
    <plug-in id>=<comma separated list of classpath entries to add>
where plug-in id "*" matches any plug-in not otherwise mentioned.
osgi.framework
the URL location of the OSGi framework. Useful if the Eclipse install is disjoint. See the section on locations for more details.
osgi.frameworkClassPath
a comma separated list of classpath entries for the OSGi framework implementation. Relative locations are interpreted as relateve to the framework location (see osgi.framework)
osgi.install.area {-install}
the install location of the platform. This setting indicates the location of the basic Eclipse plug-ins and is useful if the Eclipse install is disjoint. See the section on locations for more details.
osgi.instance.area {-data}
the instance data location for this session. Plug-ins use this location to store their data. For example, the Resources plug-in uses this as the default location for projects (aka the workspace). See the section on locations for more details.
osgi.instance.area.default
the default instance data location for this session. Plug-ins use this location to store their data. For example, the Resources plug-in uses this as the default location for projects (aka the workspace). This value (i.e., the default setting) is only used if no value for the osgi.instance.area is set. See the section on locations for more details.
osgi.manifest.cache
the location where generated manifests are discovered and generated. The default is in the configuration area but the manifest cache can be stored separately.
osgi.nl {-nl}
the name of the locale on which Eclipse platform will run. NL values should follow the standard Java locale naming conventions.
osgi.os {-os}
the operating system value. The value should be one of the Eclipse processor architecture names known to Eclipse (e.g., x86, sparc, ...).
osgi.splashLocation
the absolute URL location of the splash screen (.bmp file) to to show while starting Eclipse. This property overrides any value set in osgi.splashPath.
osgi.splashPath
a comma separated list of URLs to search for a file called splash.bmp. This property is overriden by any value set in osgi.splashLocation.
osgi.user.area {-user}
the location of the user area. The user area contains data (e.g., preferences) specific to the OS user and independent of any Eclipse install, configuration or instance. See the section on locations for more details.
osgi.user.area.default
the default location of the user area. The user area contains data (e.g., preferences) specific to the OS user and independent of any Eclipse install, configuration or instance. This value (i.e., the default setting) is only used if no value for the osgi.user.area is set. See the section on locations for more details.
osgi.ws {-ws}
the window system value. The value should be one of the Eclipse window system names known to Eclipse (e.g., win32, motif, ...).
osgi.syspath
<xxx still used? fix the name>

Locations

The Eclipse runtime defines a number of locations which give plug-in developers context for reading/storing data and Eclipse users a control over the scope of data sharing and visibility. Eclipse defines the following notions of location:

User (-user) {osgi.user.area} [@none, @noDefault, @user.home, @user.dir, filepath, url]
User locations are specific to, go figure, users. Typically the user location is based on the value of the Java user.home system property but this can be overridden. Information such as user scoped preferences and login information may be found in the user location.
Install (-install) {osgi.install.area} [@user.home, @user.dir, filepath, url]
An install location is where Eclipse itself is installed. In practice this location is the directory (typically "eclipse") which is the parent of the startup.jar or eclipse.exe being run. This location should be considered read-only to normal users as an install may be shared by many users. It is possible to set the install location and decouple startup.jar from the rest of Eclipse.
Configuration (-configuration) {osgi.configuration.area} [@none, @noDefault, @user.home, @user.dir, filepath, url]
Configuration locations contain files which identify and manage the (sub)set of an install to run. As such, there may be many configurations per install. Installs may come with a default configuration area but typical startup scenarios involve the runtime attempting to find a more writable configuration location.
Instance (-data) {osgi.instance.area} [@none, @noDefault, @user.home, @user.dir, filepath, url]
Instance locations contain user-defined data artifacts. For example, the Resources plug-in uses the instance area as the workspace location and thus the default home for projects. Other plugins are free to write whatever files they like in this location.

While users can set any of these locations, Eclipse will compute reasonable defaults if values are not given. The most common usecase for setting location is the instance area or, in the IDE context, the workspace. To run the default Eclipse configuration on a specific data set you can specify:

    eclipse -data c:\mydata

More detail

Locations are URLs. For simplicity, file paths are also accepted and automatically converted to file: URLs. For better control and convenience, there are also a number of predefined symbolic locations which can be used. Note that not all combinations of location type and symbolic value are valid. A table below details which combinations are possible. Since the default case is for all locations to be set, valid and writable, some plug-ins may fail in other setups even if they are listed as possible. For example, it is unreasonable to expect a plugin focused on user data (e.g., the Eclipse Resources plug-in) to do much if the instance area is not defined. It is up to plug-in developers to choose the setups they support and design their function accordingly.

@none
Indicates that the corresponding location should never be set either explicitly or to its default value. For example, an RCP style application which has no user data may use osgi.instance.area=@none to prevent extraneous files being written to disk. @none must not be followed by any additional path segments.
@noDefault
Forces a location to be undefined or explicitly defined (i.e., Eclipse will not automatically compute a default value). This is useful where you want to allow for data in the corresponding location but the Eclipse default value is not appropriate. @noDefault must not be followed by any additional path segments.
@user.home
Directs Eclipse to compute a location value relative to the user's home directory. @user.home can be followed by additional path segments. In all cases, the string "@user.home" is simply replaced with the value of the Java "user.home" System property. For example, setting
    osgi.instance.area=@user.home/myWorkspace
results in a value of
    file:/users/bob/myWorkspace
@user.dir
Directs Eclipse to compute a location value relative to the current working directory. @user.dir can be followed by additional path segments. In all cases, the string "@user.dir" is simply replaced with the value of the Java "user.dir" System property. For example, setting
    osgi.instance.area=@user.dir/myWorkspace
results in a value of
    file:/usr/share/eclipse/myWorkspace
location/value
supports default
file/URL
@none
@noDefault
@user.home
@user.dir
instance
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes (default)
configuration
yes
yes
yes*
yes*
yes
yes
install
no
yes
no
no
yes
yes
user
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes

* indicates that this setup is technically possible but pragmatically quite difficult to manage. In particular, without a configuration location the Eclipse runtime may only get as far as starting the OSGi framework.

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