Eclipse m2e: How to use a WORKSPACE Maven installation

Today a colleague of me asked me about the Maven Installations preference page in Eclipse. There is an entry WORKSPACE there, which is disabled and shows NOT AVAILABLE. He wanted to know how to enable a workspace installation of Maven.

Since we both did not find the documentation of the feature I digged into the m2e sources and found class MavenWorkspaceRuntime. The relevant snippets are the method getMavenDistribution() and the MAVEN_DISTRIBUTION constant:

private static final ArtifactKey MAVEN_DISTRIBUTION = new ArtifactKey(
      "org.apache.maven", "apache-maven", "[3.0,)", null); //$NON-NLS-1$ //$NON-NLS-2$ //$NON-NLS-3$


protected IMavenProjectFacade getMavenDistribution() {
  try {
    VersionRange range = VersionRange.createFromVersionSpec(getDistributionArtifactKey().getVersion());
    for(IMavenProjectFacade facade : projectManager.getProjects()) {
      ArtifactKey artifactKey = facade.getArtifactKey();
      if(getDistributionArtifactKey().getGroupId().equals(artifactKey.getGroupId()) //
          && getDistributionArtifactKey().getArtifactId().equals(artifactKey.getArtifactId())//
          && range.containsVersion(new DefaultArtifactVersion(artifactKey.getVersion()))) {
        return facade;
  } catch(InvalidVersionSpecificationException e) {
    // can't happen
  return null;

From here you can see that m2e tries to look for workspace (Maven) projects and to find one the has the coordinates org.apache.maven:apache-maven:[3.0,).

So the answer how to enable a WORKSPACE Maven installation is: Import the project apache-maven into the workspace. And here is how to do it:

  1. Clone Apache Maven from
  2. Optionally: check out a release tag
    git checkout maven-3.6.3
  3. Perform File / Import / Existing Maven Projects
  4. As Root Directory select the apache-maven subfolder in your Maven clone location

Now you will have the project that m2e searches for in your workspace:

And the Maven Installations preference page lets you now select this distribution:

2 thoughts on “Eclipse m2e: How to use a WORKSPACE Maven installation

  1. Wouldn’t it be easier to just add an external maven installation instead, which you typically have on the machine anyway? The only benefit I can imagine for the workspace installation is when you put that into an Oomph setup, so you can manage the Maven version used in an Eclipse workspace centrally.

  2. That’s no doubt, but that was not the question from my colleague. He asked, I digged into the source, and then I documented that undocumented feature 😉

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