Boost for desktop Linux as project ties tools

A community open-source effort known as the Portland Project gave the first look Tuesday at software tying together the two major Linux desktop environments, KDE and Gnome. The move should help speed the adoption of the open-source operating system on the desktop since developers won’t have to choose between the two different interfaces and tools when writing applications.

The Portland Project gave its technology preview of the first set of common interfaces for Gnome and KDE at the LinuxWorld conference in Boston in conjunction with the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) and

OSDL is a worldwide consortium focused on accelerating the adoption of Linux, while is an open-source project devoted to interoperability and shared technology for X Window System desktops.

The project should give desktop Linux a much needed shot in the arm, according to Stuart Cohen, chief executive officer of OSDL. Currently, desktop Linux only has around a 4 percent to 5 percent overall market share, he said in an interview in Boston.

The Portland Project originated out of an OSDL desktop architects meeting on interoperability issues in Portland, Oregon, in December 2005.

Portland is delivering two sets of interfaces — a set of command line tools and a set of library application programming interfaces dubbed DAPI.

The protocols are being released to ISVs (independent software vendors) for testing, with the first beta of the software due out next month. The final release of Portland 1.0 should appear in June.

Another driver to grow desktop Linux usage will be increased adoption of the open-source OpenOffice desktop suite, according to Cohen. Once desktop Linux has achieved significant critical mass, he hopes that Microsoft Corp. will decide to have its Office application suite support the open-source operating system. Cohen considers the move inevitable in the same way that Microsoft eventually opted to run Office on Apple Computer Inc.’s Macintosh operating system.

The Portland Project technology review can be seen at this Web site.

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