Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Reduce disk access in Windows 7

Although I’m not a big user of Windows, sometimes I use it to test my software and products. When switching to Windows Vista and Windows 7 I’ve always noticed a huge use of the disk.

Here are some tricks I’ve used to reduce such use

First of all make sure to disable indexing for the whole hard disk (checkbox “Allow files on this drive…”)

Then stop the Windows Search service and…

make sure it is disabled (right click and the Properties)

Finally, make sure that you have no scheduled defragmentation (you can check this by pressing “Defragment now…”

This should reduce disk access, hopefully πŸ™‚

any comment and suggestion is more than welcome!


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Mirror Eclipse repositories with p2.mirror Ant task

Inspired by this nice blog post, I decided it was time to try to mirror some Eclipse repositories to

  • speed up my builds that depend on target platforms
  • insulate myself from outside servers
  • be able to build also without an Internet connection
  • reduce network traffic πŸ™‚

To do this I’m using p2 ant tasks for mirroring repositories.

When mirroring eclipse repositories, my main idea is to keep the path structure of the original repository URL. For instance, if you are using something like

the mirror should differ only for the base url, e.g., something like


This is useful if the p2 repositories you use for materializing your target platform are parametrized with respect to the base URL. For instance, I’m using Buckminster to materialize my target platforms (see also this post), and in my RMAP files I have something like

You see that the URLs are parametrized over the property (which defaults to If I mirror those repositories keeping the same structure

then, switching to my local mirror for target materialization it’s just a matter of passing for the property the URL of my local directory, e.g., file:/home/bettini/eclipsemirror, without even changing my RMAP files.

So let’s start mirroring! We need to define an Ant script for the p2 antRunner.

For instance, for mirroring the whole orbit repository (with that particular drops version) we create this script, let’s call it mirror-orbit.xml:

Note that we keep in the target dir the same path structure of the original repository.

Since these Ant tasks need to be run via the Eclipse antRunner application, you need a full installation of Eclipse on the machine that will run the task. And you run this task with a command line like the following

Of course you can choose any target dir; the idea is however to always use the same target dir so that all repositories will be mirrored in that path.

Mirroring an entire repository might not always be the case, especially for Juno main release repository, which is quite huge. But you can specify in the Ant task the installable units you’re interested in; then, the p2 task will only mirror those installable units (and all its dependencies). For instance,

This task will mirror all the features that should let you define a target platform for RCP development with EMF and CDO.

NOTE: if you try to mirror org.eclipse.platform.sdk from the releases/juno repository, you will see that it will actually mirror the whole repository! (see alsoΒ this forum post).

If you get some warnings during the mirror about unsolvable dependencies, you can ignore them: basically those dependencies are in a different repositories, and probably you will mirror those repositories too later.

Of course you can use several p2.mirror elements in the same Ant task. For example, this is the one we use in Emf Components, to have a mirror for our target platform: it also mirrors Swtbot and Xtext SDKs:

Final warning: it might take some time for the mirror task to complete (usually hours depending on your connection and load) and it will also take some hard disk space (for the above mirror it takes about 2 Gb).

You may have to experiment a bit to get all the features you need in the mirror; for instance, I didn’t know about the draw2d above, but I had to add it since during target materialization that feature was requested by some other feature. If you’re lost about that, you can always mirror the whole thing πŸ˜‰

There’s also a follow up post showing how to run this ant task from Eclipse!

But then your builds will be faster πŸ™‚

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Install Adobe Reader in Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal 64bit

Acrobat Reader used to be available from Ubuntu Partner repository, but it is not available anymore in Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal!

So you have to download the .deb package from and install it:

However, if you have a 64bit system, do not forget to install also these packages:

Otherwise, acroread will fail

acroread: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

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Accessing your remote Ubuntu machine with VNC and ssh

If you want to access your remote Ubuntu machine with VNC, in particular by tunnelling through ssh, there is already some documentation which can be found here. However, at least for me, the procedure explained there does not work out of the box. So here’s what I had to do to make it work.

First of all you need to install in the machines the following packages:

  • remote machine: xvfb x11vnc openssh-server
  • local machine: xtightvncviewer openssh-client

Then, the script to run on your client machine to access the server has to be slightly modified as follows

where you will have to replace USER with your user on the remote machine, and REMOTEIP with the address of your remote machine.

Basically, the changes I had to make to the original script were to add the -auth command line option specifying the path to the .Xauthority, and the command line option -create to actually start an instance of the X server on the remote machine.

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Installing Eclipse Features via the command line

If you have many eclipse installations (with different features/plugins) and you want to have such installations in several computers (possibly with different operating systems or with different architectures), then being able to install eclipse features from the command line might be quite helpful (at least, it is for me πŸ™‚

You can find some related posts, like Lars Vogel’s or Paul Webster’s. These are just my two cents πŸ™‚

What you need to do is to run eclipse from the command line (if you’re using Windows, you need to run eclipsec.exe, note the final ‘c’, instead of eclipse.exe), with these parameters

Where the repo URLs are just the same as the ones you use as update sites or p2 repositories when installing a feature in Eclipse (you may want to always put the eclipse distribution main update site, e.g.,, while the feature IDs are the actual identifiers of features you want to install; knowing the correct feature ID might not be immediate to discover, if you’re only used to the names you see in the update manager.

For instance, say that you want to install Xtext SDK, from the site , then in Eclipse you would do something like in the following screenshot

but instead of “Xtext SDK“, in the command line, you should specify While in this case it was easy to infer the feature ID, but… at least for me, it was not immediate to know that “Eclipse Java EE Developer Tools” feature is indeed !!! πŸ™‚

Fortunately, you can get to know that by clicking that “More…” link in the above screenshot, which leads you an information dialog where you can easily find the identifier of the selected feature:

Of course you can also have the list of all the contents of an update site, by using the option -list:

For instance, this is the command line I use to install in the Xtext eclipse distribution ( additional stuff like the Xpand SDK, some Mylyn connectors, SwtBot and EMF CDO:

The final -vmargs are just some additional arguments which you may want to skip.

Hope this helps πŸ™‚

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