Installing Aptana on Ubuntu 8.04 64-bit

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been expirimenting at home with Linux for the first time in years.  The April 2008 release of Ubuntu 8.04 (otherwise refered to as the Hardy Heron for reasons I do not begin to understand) promised excellent driver support and incredible ease of installation.  For the most part, both of those statements are true.  It comes with the Wubi installer to let you get everything started from within Windows and have a dual-booting machine in minutes.  Plus the only driver issue I’ve had has been with my laptop’s wireless network adapter.  On the whole, this has been a pretty positive setup experience.

I’ve been trying to configure my desktop for some light development work on Ubuntu using Ruby on Rails.  It was simple enough to install Ruby, Rails, Eclipse, Apache, and MySQL all using the Synaptic Package Manager that ships with Ubuntu.  However, installing Aptana Studio for RadRails was another story.  The following advice only applies to Unbuntu 8.04 installations on 64-bit machines.  If you’re using an x86 based processor, you probably won’t experience any of these issues and there is a good chance you aren’t reading this to begin with.

The first problem I ran accross was that directly downloading and unpackaging Aptana Studio (like I would in Windows) doesn’t work.  You’ll get the “An error has occurred. See the log file…” message that is starting to become infamous.  After investigating the log file I was directed to, I noticed that the error was that the code was expecting an x86-based CPU clock.  Blast you 32-bit systems!

Then I noticed on Aptana’s site that if you’re running a 64-bit OS, you have to run Aptana as a plugin to Eclipse.  “Well, that shouldn’t be an issue,” I thought to myself, as I had used Synaptic to automatically install Eclipse.  I followed the directions Aptana gave for installing updates to eclipse and creating a new site to scan (at URL http://update.aptana.com/update/3.2/).  Eclipse found the update site easily enough and prompted me to download the Aptana plugin.  However, every time I did so led to the error message “An exception occurred while downloading feature from http://update.aptana.com/update/3.2/features/com.aptana.ide.feature.editors_1.1.5009212.jar.” 

After another hour or so of googling the issue, I discovered that the current update of Aptana is only compatible with Eclipse 3.3 and higher.  Ubuntu 8.04, despite having just come out in April of 2008, still points to the repository with Eclipse 3.2 when using Synaptic to autoinstall. 

I went to the Eclipse site (http://www.eclipse.org) and pulled down the latest version (currently 3.3.2).  Then using my freshly unpacked new copy I repeated the previous steps of setting up Eclipse to download the Aptana plugin from the update site. 

Eureka!  Aptana began streaming to my drive and I celebrated with a beer (Stella Artois).  Once Aptana was installed, I was easily able to click the link to install RadRails, which in turn downloaded and installed all of the Ruby Gems that I still needed (i.e. rake).

I hope this guide helps someone out there.  Enjoy Ubuntu and happy coding!

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