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Getting Started With Sun SPOTs

Sun SPOTs (Sun Small Programmable Object Technology) are small, wireless, battery-powered devices developed at Sun Labs to explore the next frontier of network computing. These devices can be used in a wide range of applications including robotics, environmental monitoring, asset tracking, proactive health care and many others. Sun SPOTs are powered by a specially designed small-footprint Java virtual machine, called Squawk, that can host multiple applications concurrently, and requires no underlying operating system. Stackable boards include application-specific sensors and actuators such as accelerometers, light detectors, temperature sensors, LEDs, push buttons and general I/O pins. The devices can be duty cycled to run for months on a single charge of their rechargeable battery.

With current state-of-the-art, developing applications for most other embedded devices is a tedious chore -- often involving learning unfamiliar languages/tools with little or no debugging support. By supporting application development and debugging via standard IDEs such as NetBeans, our platform opens up the exciting world of embedded programming to a much broader class of developers. Sun SPOTs have been commercially available at since March 2007 and have been used in several high profile technology demonstrations with Sun customers and partners, at university courses and even art installations. They are also proving to be a popular platform for hobbyists and researchers. Sun SPOTs have been featured on Infoworld's list of Must-have gadgets and Javalobby's list of Amazing Java Applications. Click on the video presentation link in the right column to learn more about Sun SPOTs.

The Sun SPOT Software Development Kit (SDK) includes the necessary documentation, code samples and software to help you develop applications for SPOTs. The SDK also includes an emulator so users that do not have any Sun SPOT devices can still develop and run applications on virtual SPOTs. All of the Sun SPOT SDK (and even the hardware) is available as open source from

The rest of this document describes how to download and install the software necessary to program Sun SPOTs

Table of Contents

  1. Prerequisites
  2. Installing and Configuring Prerequisite Software on
  3. Next Steps

1. Prerequisites

The absolute minimum prerequisite software before you can get started with the Sun SPOT SDK is the Sun Java Runtime Environment. Chances are good you already have this installed, but if not, you will have to go to and download and install the Sun JRE.

Click here to test your system for a functioning JRE. If you see a dancing Duke logo, a JRE is already installed. Otherwise, follow the instructions for Installing and Configuring Prerequisite Software.

Once you have the Sun JRE installed, the Sun SPOT Manager Tool, a Java WebStart Application, should be able to install and configure everything else you may need to develop programs for the Sun SPOT.

Because each platform we support is slightly different, we have divided this Getting Started Guide into platform-specific sections. Please select your platform from the list below:

  1. Windows Vista
  2. Windows XP
  3. Linux
  4. Solaris
  5. Mac OS X