Tool opens door to Linux exploration

With its recent release of Team Developer 2005 for Linux, Gupta Technologies LLC has created a tool not only to develop Linux applications but also port the application to a Windows environment simply by recompiling the code.

Gupta CTO Chuck Stevenson said the Linux market is suffering, to some extent, because companies are not able to find off-the-shelf applications that meet their specific requirements. “So most (companies) are looking to be able to write something to meet their needs,” he said. Areas like manufacturing and point-of-sale in the retail sector could benefit from Linux since many of the applications do not need a fully functional Windows box to run.

The lack of an integrated tool to write code, debug it and compile it is a hurdle for developers.

The all-in-one solution “facilitates things tremendously,” said Rob Rodgers, an IT consultant who uses a previous version of Team Developer to write code for Transport Canada’s HR system. “I absolutely love the development environment,” he said. He is presently working on another project using a Microsoft Corp. tool and is finding the lack of an integrated debug tool to be a hassle. “I always find it complicated where it didn’t really need to be.”

Tim Perry, president of research and development with the Tempest Development Group, an organization that develops applications for municipal governments, agrees that an all-in-one solution is the way to go. “I don’t like having to have different applications from different vendors…to build a development environment.”

When Richmond, Que.-based Rodgers first started using Team Developer, the Transport Canada HR environment was all Microsoft. With the ability to recompile code (as long as it does not have Windows-specific attributes like ActiveX) and use it on Linux boxes, Rodgers said the door is now open to explore using Linux. “It [would be] a much better use of resources,” he said.

“One advantage that I have found in going toward a Linux environment (is that) it slows down the necessity of keeping up with the latest and greatest of hardware because you get better performance on half the machine.”

If Gupta has successfully developed a tool with the ability to easily port applications between Linux and Windows, they should be able to gain big market share because future companies are going to have a mixed environment with both Windows and Linux machines, Rodgers said.

Perry, who operates out of Surrey, B.C., agreed that the option to recompile to Linux with Team Developer 2005 is a great feature but he is not too sure how much use it will get. “Whether or not our marketplace is going to be there, I don’t know. That is a question that time will tell.” Regardless, he said a lack of Linux-based applications, especially in the office application market, is a hurdle to Linux adoption.

“We’re not looking in that (Linux) direction right now because our marketplace hasn’t shifted in that area,” Rodgers said. But he admits it is a bit of a conundrum. “Without the applications being there (for the Linux platform), how are we going to get there?”

Both Rodgers and Perry said any additional tool to help the migration, such as Team Developer 2005, will certainly help the cause.

On the Linux side, Team Developer 2005 supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux v3, SuSE Professional 9.x, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8.x and 9.0 and Novell Linux Desktop.

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