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IBM has announced a new Eclipse development package for Linux.

This is based on the most recent Eclipse software developers kit from Eclipse.org and the latest IBM Java Runtime Environment (JRE) for Linux. IBM says this will make it easier to test and deploy Java applications on the Linux platform.

IBM quotes IDC predictions that Linux will run on 25 million desktops by 2007. The company points out, very reasonably, that greate demand for Linux translates into greater demand for Linux development tools, Eclipse among them. As evidence of this, it offer the download figures for the Eclipse platform - more than 29m download requests as of the end of July.

Gina Poole, IBM VP of developer marketing, said the new release provides developers with a combination of "productive and integrated tools as well as support for deploying applications to Linux servers".

It also provides IBM an opportunity to flog some of its own software. Poole explains that "Linux developers who upgrade to any of a range of IBM Rational and IBM WebSphere Studio Eclipse-based tools will be able to continue using the same JRE and that will simplify the development and ongoing maintenance of their applications".

IBM's willingness to engage with open source is laudable and in this it is doing better than many other big software companies we could mention. But let's not confuse it with altruism: it has spotted what it believes will be an important business trend, and is making sure it is not left behind.

Versions are available for both Linux 32-bit (on Intel) and Windows 32-bit platforms and developers can download it for free from the site. ®

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