Luna, Neon, what’s it all about ?

The z/OS Explorer Aqua release was built to simplify the problems of installing and operating together the suite of Eclipse based software required for z/OS developers and system programmers.  In our first version 3.0 released at the end of December 2015 we built and tested this to work with the Eclipse Luna (aka 4.4.2) codebase.  What does this actually mean ?

Eclipse is an open source tools platform built by the Eclipse foundation at  If you visit the site you can can download Eclipse for your particular operating system and use it to write Java code (that comes in the base) as well as add more bits and pieces, such as working with C, or GitHub, or Maven, or Java EE, and so forth.  In some ways you can view Eclipse a bit like an operating system – it has base function and it has the ability to install or add more pieces to it that enhance its capabilities.

When you download a version of Eclipse as well as selecting your operating system (windows, linux, mac, 32/64 bit…) you choose a particular version.  These versions have numbers and also have cute slightly nerdy names.  Eclipse 4.4 is named Luna, 4.5 is Mars, and 4.6 is Neon.

How do I extend an Eclipse  I’ve just downloaded so it includes the z/OS Explorer ?

If you have an Eclipse Luna distribution on your desktop you can add our update site URL and then see the available software.  This is done by using the menu actions Help > Install New Software.  This way to extend Eclipse is often called p2.

The Aqua site includes not only the z/OS Explorer plugin itself (that lets you work with data sets, JES, USS, TSO) but also other plugins for working with CICS, MQ, DB2, z/OS Connect, etc…  On the set of software built and tested for Eclipse Luna the figure above calls out some of the versions of these: CICS Explorer 5.3, z/OS Explorer 3.0, z/OS Connect 2.0.

Do I have to start with getting Eclipse Luna and then extending it ?

For folks who weren’t starting with an Eclipse environment but just wanted to download a single executable we also provided stand-alones that already contain everything you need to launch with a single click (i.e. Eclipse Luna + z/OS Explorer + link to the update site).

So what is Eclipse Neon and what changes ?

The base Eclipse platform is provided by the Eclipse foundation and since 2015 they’ve moved forward with their software, releasing Eclipse Mars (aka 4.5) and Eclipse Neon (aka 4.6).  A number of users have been asking us to refresh the z/OS Explorer to include Neon with our stand-alones and to support extending an Eclipse Neon environment.

Because Eclipse Luna and Eclipse Neon are different underlying platforms, to do this we created a new update site that holds the z/OS Explorer Aqua plugins that are available for Neon separate to those available for Eclipse Luna.  The URL for this site is

Two things should stand out from this site.

The software versions are not the same as the ones on the Luna site.  For example, the /tools/aqua site contains CICS Explorer 5.3.  The /tools/aqua3.1 site contains CICS Explorer 5.4.  The Luna site also contains z/OS Explorer 3.0 vs 3.1, and z/OS Connect 2.0 vs 3.0.

The second thing is that the list of software is less than 3.0.  When we released our Neon site on June 17th  2017 IBM Fault Analyzer, IBM File Manager, IBM Application Performance Analyzer were not present although we did add them on September 8th 2017.  Other software such as MQ Explorer is not on the Eclipse Neon site as of September 2017.

Why did you stick with the name Aqua instead of calling it Blaze, or something else cool ?

At one point we did think of naming things so

z/OS Explorer Aqua 3.0 (built on Eclipse Luna)  was kept separate to z/OS Explorer Blaze 3.1 (build on EclipseNeon).  We decided against this (after talking to users) who were comfortable with Aqua as a concept of pulling software together under a single banner, and that introducing a new letter would confuse more than it simplified.  The best way to think of our release is

z/OS Explorer Aqua 3.0 = Built on Eclipse Luna

z/OS Explorer Aqua 3.1 = Built on Eclipse Neon

Can I upgrade from the z/OS Explorer Luna site to the z/OS Explorer Neon site ? 

Within Eclipse you can use the menu actions Help > Check for Updates.  This calls up all of the update sites and will look to see if there are any newer versions of the plugins you’ve got already installed, and then guide you through a wizard to perform the update.  Since our first release of z/OS Explorer Aqua 3.0 we released about 100 updates to software this way.

A question that we get asked is whether it is possible to go into a z/OS Explorer 3.0 and modify the udpate site to be /tools/aqua31.  If you do this and then check for updates will this allow the 3.0 Luna based software to be turned into a 3.1 Neon based software stack ?


It is not possible to have an Eclipse Luna based environment and install software from the z/OS Explorer 3.1 update site into it.

To move from 3.0 to 3.1 you will need to get a fresh install environment, and from there you can bring over the workspace data, but it is not possible for the Eclipse Luna based software stack to be updated within itself to Eclipse Neon software stack.

The /aqua3.1 site has been built to work with Eclipse Neon.  If you need to move any of the software you’ve obtained from the /aqua site that was built to work with Eclipse Luna you’ll need to get a new version of the z/OS Explorer.    On the site we provide downloads for the Eclipse Luna stack that points to the /aqua site, as well as downloads for the Eclipse Neon stack that points to the /aqua3.1 site.

When you use z/OS Explorer (or any Eclipse based solution) all of your data is stored in a file known as a workspace, so no data will be lost switching from 3.0 to 3.1 z/OS Explorer.  The same workspace should be used unless you’ve overridden it to another location.  To see the workspace in use the menu actions File > Switch Workspace > Other … will show the workspace currently in use, so you can check your z/OS Explorer 3.0 (Eclipse Luna based environment) and then when you launch your freshly downloaded z/OS Explorer 3.1 (Eclipse Neon based environment) you can point it to the old workspace.  Eclipse will detect that your workspace that was written using an Eclipse Luna environment is now being open in an Eclipse Neon one and may not be backwards compatible, so it does a migration and stamps the workspace as now being Eclipse Neon compatible going forward.  This means you may find it useful to keep a backup if you intend to go back to your z/OS Explorer 3.0 Eclipse Luna software.

You can also set workspaces with the -data argument in the .ini file or startup arguments for the executable itself.  If anyone would like a more detailed blog on how to manage and switch workspaces please give feedback at the end and we’ll be happy to write one.

What if I am using Installation Manager instead of just extending Eclipse through its built in Help -> Install New Software ?

The way you install software using Installation Manager is different as you don’t use the Eclipse menu actions Help > Install New Software, although for our z/OS Explorer 3.0 software we do share the same site URL  We have made the z/OS Explorer 3.1 installation manager packages available through

Just as with the Eclipse extension mechanism where you can’t update from 3.0 to 3.1, you can’t do this for Installation Manager.  If you have z/OS Explorer 3.0 in a package group and you point to the 3.1 update site, you won’t be able to update the package group software.  A fresh install in a new package group is needed.

Why is there less software on the 3.1 site than the 3.0 site ?

IBM Fault Analyzer, IBM File Manager, IBM Application Performance Analyzer were not present on the 3.1 site in June 2017 but were added on September 8th 2018.   Likewise IBM Developer for z Systems was added in September.  Some software is still not available on our Neon site (MQ Explorer, DB2 Data Studio).

This is because the rollout of software that works with Eclipse Neon has begun with our June 16th refresh, to coincide with CICS Transaction Server 5.4 availability and line up along a major subsystem release boundary.  Not all of the tools’ cycles are ready to move to Eclipse Neon yet.  We’ll update this blog as more Eclipse Neon (z/OS Explorer Aqua 3.1) tools are available.  If you are using and relying on a tool that is available at 3.0 and not available at 3.1 then our advice is to not upgrade at the moment.  If you want to receive explicit notice of when public announcements are made for when anything missing is available on the 3.1 stack please comment on this blog and we’ll let you know.

What will happen to the 3.0 site ?

We will continue to release software updates onto the /tools/aqua site that supports z/OS Explorer Aqua 3.0 however the frequency at which this occurs will be less, as it becomes a service channel.  New features and enhancements will be delivered through the z/OS Explorer Aqua 3.1 site.

4 comments on"z/OS Explorer Aqua: Eclipse Luna + Eclipse Neon – what’s going on ?"

  1. Please give me advice.

    My client tries to use IDz newly.
    On the license, it has to migrate from RDz to IDz, but since my client partners have not installed RDz yet, they intend to install IDz newly.
    Also, they have purchased ‘PD Tools Common Component’ and plan to use Fault Analyzer, File Manager, Application Performance Analyzer through IDz.

    In my checking the installation procedures to guide them, I wondered whether the following installation method is appropriate or not.

    – Install IDz, FA, FM and APA on Eclipse V4.6 Neon

    1. Download ‘IM for z/OS Explorer Aqua V3.1 (Eclipse Neon V4.6)’.
    2. Install IM and switch install package of IM from Aqua3.1 to Aqua.
    3. Install IDz, FA, FM, and APA selected.

    Here, what kind of environment should this procedure be constructed?

    a) IDz and others on Eclipse V4.4 Luna
    b) IDz and others on Eclipse V4.6 Neon

    If it is b, will IDz run in a guaranteed environment?
    Or should we install ‘IM for z/OS Explorer Aqua V3.0 (Eclipse Luna V4.4)’ from the beginning?

    Since you wrote that bringing over the workspace data is possible, I think that the above introduction procedure is correct.

    • JoeWinchester September 07, 2017

      Before September 8th the file aqua-3.1-im….zip would not have included IDz,FA, FM and APA. However after September 8th they will be there as that is the General Availability (GA) date for Eclipse Neon and those 4 tools.

      Step 2 should not be needed – if you start with ‘IM for z/OS Explorer Aqua v3.1’ Installation Manager then what this will do is lay down Installation Manager with the correct link to the /aqua3.1 site. You only need to do the switch from /aqua to /aqua3.1 if you had previously used z/OS Explorer 3.0 on your PC. If you do have IM already on your PC, then you can skip Step 1 because once you already have the /aqua3.1 site you can just go straight to Install IDz, FA, FM and APA all together into a new package group. There is no need to install z/OS Explorer 3.1 first (this is only needed if you aren’t installing IDz).

      b) for IDz for our latest September 8th GA of products this is our recommended install, as it’s the latest code with the most features. What do you mean specifically by “IDz run in a guaranteed environment” ?

      I’d be very happy to have a conference call, web meeting where we can screen share and discuss this in more detail, and I can include some of the team here. I want to make sure we really understand your environment and your steps to make sure that everything goes well and there’s nothing that gets missed. If so then please e-mail me on and we can organize a meeting off-line.

  2. Thank you for your response.
    I confirmed that IM Repository of aqua3.1 was changed so that it included IDz and the other tools on 9/11.

    My intention of writing “will IDz run in a guaranteed environment?” was to see if IDz and the others are guaranteed to run normally on Neon as well as Luna.
    I understood that because they have included in aqua3.1.


    • JoeWinchester September 12, 2017

      Yes IDz 14.1 is based on Eclipse Neon and is part of the aqua/3.1 release train. Let us know if you run into any problems – we’ve done fairly extensive testing so hopefully things will go OK for you. If there is anything you’d like to see that we’re not including in our tools, either function, or doc, or supported platforms, or anything else please let us know. It’s always good for us to hear directly from end users what issues they’re struggling with (as well as show them what we’re up to with futures).

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