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[p2-dev] Automated bundle installation and startup without platform restart

I have a large, p2-enabled Eclipse RCP app composed of many individual features (>500 plugins). Currently, the app is deployed as a single product. I'd like to break off the majority of the features and have them installed automatically from one or more p2 repositories via a custom, lightweight, headless app accompanied by the necessary p2/equinox bundles and their transitive dependencies. What's more (and this is important), I need the headless app to automatically start some of the installed plugins (without a platform restart!), which would kick off the full-blown application.

Imagine a "core" product accompanied by dozens of additional features (which have already been developed). Different users in the organization would use the product for different needs and roles. Instead of downloading a single, gargantuan product, the app would automatically download and install only the features necessary for their particular roles and responsibilities. In fact, some users would automatically be prevented from seeing or being able to download certain features.

More specifically, my users would download and execute a simple script that would kick off an installation process like the following:

    1. The script kicks off the RCP app's Eclipse executable (done/works ok)
    2. The Eclipse/Equinox framework initializes, runs the SimpleConfigurator, and starts my IApplication bundle (done/works ok)
    3. The framework instantiates my IApplication implementation based on my config.ini's eclipse.application param (done/works ok)
    4. The framework invokes my IApplication instance's start(IApplicationContext) method
    5. My IApplication instance resolves and executes a p2 ProvisioningJob based on a configurable list of IUs (done/works ok)
    6. My IApplication instance uses the Eclipse extension framework to identify one of the newly installed bundles that contains its own IApplication (doesn't work)
    7. My IApplication instance uses the Eclipse extension framework to create an executable instance of the newly installed bundle's IApplication class (doesn't work)
    8. My IApplication instance calls the other IApplication instance and blocks until the other IApplication returns

So far, I've got an IApplication implementation that successfully works through Step #5. However, everything after Step 5 is giving me problems. As you know, the p2 logic only installs the IUs. It doesn't start the plugins, much less make their extension points available for creating executable extensions.

I tried to mimic the p2 UI logic by looking up the SimpleConfigurator and invoking its applyConfiguration() method. However, it caused the org.eclipse.core.runtime plugin to stop, kill the running Platform, and stop my IApplication instance and its plugin.

After that I tried to initialize my installed plugins manually, such as using the PlatformAdmin to set start levels, resolve, etc. However, I kept running into NoClassDefFound errors since some plugins didn't lazily initialize as expected.

I also tried to set up a separate profile, install my "heavyweight" features to the dropins directory, and use the reconciler APIs to initialize my plugins. Unfortunately, the app still tried to restart the org.eclipse.core.runtime plugin and kill the running Platform.

Any advice? This is a crucial step in making my RCP app lightweight and easier to deploy and update.