Creating a new stack in Eclipse Che from an existing Docker image

title_che_custom_whalesayIn Eclipse Che, stacks are runtime configurations for workspaces.  Eclipse Che 5.0 provides the ability to quickly create a new stack based on an existing Docker image. There are a few requirements, with the main one being that the image must include a bash shell (fortunately most already do). Additionally, Docker images used with Che must have a non-terminating CMD command so that the container doesn’t shut down immediately after loading. However, we can do this in Che without having to modify the Docker image.

This article outlines how you can create a new stack based on the docker/whalesay image, the Docker image many folks would have come across when going through the Docker tutorial.

Step 1: Create a new Runtime Stack

  1. Install and launch Eclipse Che. (This article is based on 5.3.1)
  2. In the left-hand menu, click on ‘Stacks’ then ‘Add Stack’stacks1
  3. In the new stack page, fill in the ‘Name’ field e.g. Eclipse Che Whalesay stacks2
  4. For good measure, in the Tags section, delete the Java 1.8 tag and you can add in any preferred tags (press Enter after each tag to turn it blue).

From now your stack is available on the dashboard or stack list, but it doesn’t yet do anything impressive.

Step 2: Reference the Docker Image

  1. To reference the Docker image, in the stack editor, first scroll down to the ‘Raw Configuration’ section and click ‘Show’. Find where it says ‘image’ and replace the existing entry with the docker/whalesay one. Click ‘Save’.stacks3
  2. As the whalesay image normally shuts down after running, we need to make it so it keeps running. We can do this using Docker Compose syntax that is now supported in the stack editor. To do this we add the following command to the content.
    command: [tail, -f, /dev/null]

    Whitespace matters so check the recipe preview in the ‘Runtimes’ section to ensure it looks like correctly formatted Docker Compose syntax.  Although this is a bit hacky, it is great because it means we can reuse the docker image completely unchanged. stacks7.png

Step 3: Add a Custom Command

Next we will create a command to allow us easily run the whalesay image within the browser IDE.

  1. In the Commands section, click Add. Fill in the name and command fields. In this case we’ll simply make the command just say ‘boo’.
    • Name: cowsay
    • Command: cowsay boostacks8

Step 4: Test the Stack

  1. That’s it, now we can test it straightaway by clicking on the ‘Test’ button. A dialog will pop-up, click ‘Test Workspace’, no need to import any projects.
  2. This should pull the whalesay image and launch up a workspace with it configured.stacks9.png
  3. Click on the play icon next to the cowsay command and you should whalesay in the terminal saying boo!stacks10.png

Bonus Step: Use Macros

  1. We can also use macros in commands, try editing the command to have the whale say the name of the selected file like this:
    • Name: cowsay
    • Command: cowsay ${}

    A full list of macros can be found here:

  2. Then test the workspace again, this time including one or two example projects. Click on a file, then run the command. This time whalesay should say the name of any selected files. stacks11

And that’s it, an unchanged Docker image easily integrated into a new runtime stack!


Getting Started With Eclipse Che on Windows 10


Over the last year or so there has been a reasonable amount of evolution of the best way to get Eclipse Che running on Windows. The latest set of instructions are reasonably straightforward though not a complete no-brainer. This post records my snapshot of the step-by-step install process for Eclipse Che 5.2.2 including Docker install, dead ends & false starts.

  1. The aim is to set up a local install of pre-built Che on Windows 10 Home Edition. Starting point, scan documentation at
  2. Install prerequisite Docker. Download & install ‘Docker for Windows’. Helpful error message redirects me to use Docker Toolbox. dockerforwindows
  3. Download Docker Toolbox for Windows. Run installer. Requires 77.6M, and also wants to install Git.  The reason it needs to install a full source control system is merely down to the fact that the Git install comes with a nicely packaged bash & terminal implementation. Nevertheless I already have git installed so no need to here.
  4. Install completes, use shortcut ‘Docker Quickstart Terminal’ doesn’t work as it can’t find bash.exe (The shortcut expects Git to be in a certain default location).
  5. Update shortcut to point at my installed version of Git’s bash.exe (after another false start trying to use Git’s bash directly, fiddling with running things as Admin, etc).
  6. Success & I can run docker run hello-worldhelloworlddocker
  7. Now to the actual Eclipse Che part, try default command line
    docker run -it eclipse/che start

    Not so hasty there, a helpful error message tells me I’m missing a mandatory parameter.cherun1

  8. Add in missing parameter, try again
    docker run -it --rm -v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock \
        eclipse/che start

    Get another useful message about needing to mount a directory to save data:cherun2

  9.  Create a temporary directory and rerun the command specifying a data directory. Get a warning about data folder needing to be in %userprofile% (now you tell me). cherun3
  10. Make a different directory and run command again
    docker run -it --rm -v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock \
        -v /c/Users/tracy/tmp:/data eclipse/che start


  11. Launch up browser, point at, Eclipse Che is up and running.chewindows

Diversity means Open Source for a New Generation


Last month the Eclipse Foundation announced a new Diversity & Inclusion Champion, Thea Aldrich. I did cartwheels in my head when I heard the news. Why? Because I can’t do cartwheels in real life. But seriously, this is really a BIG DEAL.

When it comes to open source communities like Eclipse, you don’t need big data to know there is a diversity problem, you just have to show up to an EclipseCon and look around.

While this has been the case for years, recently there has been a change. Maybe it’s down to more consciousness of the issues or maybe more maturity in the community, but people have noticed and want to do something about it.  About a year ago, a grassroots effort led by Alex Schladebeck was started with the renewed goal of improving diversity in the community and at conferences. I was honoured to be part of the small but effective team. One big goal of ours was simply to raise awareness and start an open conversation about issues surrounding diversity. We did just that, through:

  • Writing: blog post, after blog post, after blog post
  • Speaking: I do a diversity talk ‘7 Habits of Highly Diverse Communities’, which has been well received and requested by other open source communities.
  • Online Discussions: we have a dedicated Mattermost channel at Eclipse for the topic, plus several web conferences.
  • In Person Discussions: we have had Diversity BOFs at EclipseCons, as well as addressed the Eclipse Board of Directors & Members’ meeting.

And we’ve been learning a lot along the way, such as when we tried and failed to secure a woman keynote speaker for one of the conferences. However,the best thing about all this has been how the rest of the community has responded. People have shown up, got involved, asked questions, challenged things (I expect nothing less of developers!) and offered support.

Throughout this, and even from the beginning, we have always wondered how we can sustain these efforts and indeed how we can expand them to do more. There is no quick fix for promoting diversity, more just a continuous and determined set of steps in the right direction. And in reality it would never work long term without someone dedicated to spearheading the changes.

So that is why, in less than a year after we implored the Foundation to make this happen, they listened, took us seriously and did it! Not just that, the Eclipse Foundation now becomes an Open Source Foundation investing in change, with a dedicated role to diversity. We can hope this becomes a must-have role for every open source foundation out there.

I’ve always said how much I love this community because of the ability to adapt to changing environments, and here is more proof. Thea has already kicked off efforts on multiple fronts:

  • Identifying ways in which all Eclipse events are inclusive events and welcoming,
  • Rolling out an ambassador program to involve the community in welcoming newcomers into the ecosystem,
  • Reaching out to established projects to see how we can support their efforts,
  • Making all Eclipse Foundation websites and resources easier to navigate for native non-English speakers,
  • Providing the community with a direct path to Foundation staff for ideas, complaints, feedback and other issues that our community or members may encounter.

We look forward to working with Thea, the Foundation and community on all these aspects to keep making improvements and bring about a real change.I will continue to do what I can, which includes running for a seat on the Board of Directors. Having this new focus and investment in diversity means we can look forward to bringing open source to a whole new generation of developers.

Kichwa Coders is Hiring

Kichwa Coders is a team of self-driven, open source experts and now we are always looking for more to join us. We work closely with enterprise companies, start-ups and government agencies to innovate with open-source software. Kichwa Coders specialise in Eclipse technologies and applying those frameworks and tools to specialist domain such as embedded, Internet of Things and scientific software.

We are looking for software engineers to join us in our High Wycombe offices, just outside London, England. We have positions open for both experienced developers as well as junior or graduate software developers. We happily consider a broad range of backgrounds and experience so long as you are an active and enthusiastic developer. Junior developers will have the opportunity to be mentored and learn from the best.

At Kichwa Coders, we focus on excellence in software development through best practices and mastery of software tools and framework. We aim to always foster an environment for innovation, which includes transparency, openness & diversity. If you are looking for a great opportunity to work with cutting-edge technologies, in open source and with great people then do get in touch

The Open Source Advent Calendar


It’s that time of year again. But I don’t really like chocolate. And there’s only so many times you can do a Lego advent calendar. However, I do really love open source software. So for a change, it’s time to spread some open source software magic.

The Open Source Advent calendar works like a normal advent calendar, but instead of the usual countdown, in this case each day has a specific ‘act of open source goodness’. Whether you are an existing open source committer, a contributor or even a lurker looking to get involved, the open source advent calendar will get you right into the spirit of things. It’s like the Kindness Calendar but for open source software.

We’ll be working as a team at Kichwa Coders to step through the calendar, focusing on the projects we love.  We’re using the hashtag #OpenSourceAdventCalendar to share our acts of open source. We invite you to join us, create an open source ripple effect and make a difference to open source projects everywhere this December!

Download the Open Source Advent Calendar here.