IDE Wars – 1

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the problems with Eclipse, and how much better other IDE’s like IntelliJ and Netbeans are. I was particularly intrigued by a resent post to the cdt-dev list saying (admittedly second hand) that Netbeans remote debugging “just works”. Having worked on remote support for C/C++ development for many years, I know just how difficult it is. If someone else had solved this problem, then it was time to take another look. It also seemed like a good opportunity to compare the out-of-box Netbeans experience to that of Eclipse.

Heading over to I found the latest version to be 8.2 and a pleasingly large download button. Clicking on this took me to a page that listed the contents of the download bundles. Unlike Eclipse, Netbeans only has six bundles so the choice is fairly simple. I decided to get the “All” bundle since it contained C/C++ and would give me a chance to play with some of the other features. I’m using Mac OS X, so this resulted in a DMG file (disk image) being downloaded. Once mounted, the image contained an Installer .pkg file. One point for Netbeans using the standard Mac OS X installation process rather than Eclipse’s unusual gzipped tar format.

Unfortunately this is where things started to go horribly wrong. After the install completed, I launched the Netbeans app and all hell broke loose. Well to put it more accurately, hell froze over. Netbeans had taken over my entire machine and slowed it to a crawl, to the extent that when I moved the mouse, I had to wait 30 seconds for it to update. Only after about 10 minutes of painstakingly inching the mouse to the dock, right clicking, and quitting the application was I able to restore my computer to normal operation. Not a great first time experience to say the least. After spending too much time fruitlessly searching for information on what might be going wrong, I decided to try plan B.

Back to, and this time I downloaded the C++-only bundle which I duly installed. This time, however, the following dialog popped up during the installation:

Huh? I didn’t get this when installing the full bundle so that is weird. Well at least they provided a link. But what should I do? Exit or disable modules and continue? I opted for disabling the modules in the hope that the installation would complete successfully. The link provided steps for editing the netbeans.conf file which I found inside the application bundle, and setting netbeans_jdkhome to the location of the JDK. The original value was set to the the path of a JRE that is shipped with Netbeans, which is strange if a JDK is required for this bundle. In any case, launching this time was more successful; at least my computer remained responsive.

Unfortunately, by this time I had spent way too much time just getting Netbeans installed and so had to put it aside to work on other things.

To be continued…