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Crossing the 'great divide' to push Linux

Crossing the 'great divide' to push Linux

For some time now, software development tools have been needed for Linux to reach corporate desktops. It seems that wish has been granted - a large number of commercial and open-source software development solutions are beginning to appear.

On the surface, the sheer number of Linux development tools that are emerging is a great thing. However, there is something missing that may cause a slowdown in Linux movement to the desktop. I call it the "great divide".

On one side of the great divide are business developers, who generally have a very specific mission - to write business applications that will support their organisations while also providing a competitive advantage over other companies in their field. And, these developers have to create the best software possible given the available tools, specific cost parameters, and often exceedingly short development cycles.

On the other side of the great divide are open-source developers, who generally also have a very specific mission - to create software of the very highest quality while promoting best-of-breed practices through flexible collaborative development. Although these developers may not face the financial constraints of some of their corporate counterparts, open-source developers do face tighter development time lines in order to ensure that open-source software flourishes in the marketplace.

Both sides have highly laudable, but largely separate missions - thus, the great divide. The two missions must blend together tightly if Linux is to have a shot at making the corporate desktop. I do believe it can and will happen, but some definite actions will be required by both groups to make it so.

For starters, business developers need to take the time to learn about Linux and the new development tools that are starting to appear on the scene. Whether you are working solo or as part of a development team, take the time to download and test-drive several of the new tools. Measure these tools not by hype or marvel factor, but against the requirements you need to get your job done.

Open-source developers can also take some specific actions to cross the great divide. Much greater emphasis needs to be placed on communicating and educating, while also considering the financial focus of your business development counterparts.

Connect with business developers either online or through user groups. Find out what concerns they have and what features they need in development tools to create business applications.

Praising the quality of open-source software will not be enough to move Linux to the desktop. Embracing and helping your corporate counterparts will provide the leap forward you need.

In addition to the large number of tools that comes with most Linux distributions, there are others you might want to investigate, such as Magic Software's Magic for Linux (www.magic-sw.com) and Metrowerks' CodeWarrior for Linux (www.metrowerks.com).

Familiar names are either announcing or already offering tools. For example, Oracle expects to offer Linux support for its tools this summer. Inprise anticipates making JBuilder available soon on Linux.

The open-source community also has a multitude of tools projects underway. One example of this is a group found at www.megido.org; these folks are working to bring a Delphi-like development environment to Linux.

Regardless of which side of the divide you stand on, there is plenty of room for all to cross. A combination of acceptance, communication, and education will bring out the best in all developers. Where do you stand?


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