Sorry, just had to do it.
I'm not sure why ion gas is relevant to the conversation, anyway how do you hook up a gas server to the internet?
These days the pysical interface is mainly JTAG which replaced the venerable (and expensive) ICE (In circuit emulator). In the past, many processor manufacturers would not release specs for their JTAG, to make ppl buy their IDE. TI was notorious for this. This made writing a free and open source IDE really difficult to do.
There are IDEs which are good wrappers for the compiler (Eclipse, Code::Blocks, etc.) but most of them use the generic GNU debugger (GDB) and this has never been my favorite debugger for *embedded* targets where you need to; quickly reset&re-run, perform inspection of variables and RAM contents (memory dumps), add breakpoints on data, not just functions, be able to debug all the way down to the iron, and other tasks.
The challenges in embedded firmware is that, for the most part, you are writing your own kernel and program all wrapped up in one executable, so there is no separate kernel always there in the background. The IDE and debugger have to support this type of basic program.
Money isn't everything -- but it's a long way ahead of what comes next. -- Sir Edmond Stockdale