The Eclipse development environment has become the de-facto industry-standard environment in which to host embedded development tools. Many of the traditional embedded tools vendors who used to sell their own proprietary development tools and environments have embraced Eclipse and ported their products to run within it to take advantage of the sophisticated, feature-rich framework provided by the Eclipse IDE.

These tools and environments are powerful, but they can be expensive. For projects on a tight budget, it is now possible to use the freely available, open-source Eclipse IDE along with the open-source GNU tools (binutils, gcc and gdb) to construct a complete cross-development environment at little or no cost. This article describes how to construct such a free or low-cost cross-development environment, and presents the pre-configured Eclipse projects and pre-built GNU tools offered by Macraigor Systems to help speed construction.