Linux moves towards unified APIs

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Portland Project releases beta version of its programming interfaces to boost
development of desktop Linux apps.

The Portland Project has released a beta version of its programming interfaces for the Gnome and KDE Linux environments. This is designed to boost development of desktop Linux applications by creating common application programming interfaces (APIs) for developers to use.

Waldo Bastian, chairman of the Desktop Linux working group of the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), said the release would help software vendors to interface with the Linux desktop. “Linux distributions are all slightly different,” Bastian said. “Our intention is that if software vendors follow this, [their applications] will work with all distributions of Linux, regardless of version or desktop environment.”

The Portland Project is a collaborative effort between the OSDL and, an open- source project also focused on interoperability between X Window desktops such as KDE and Gnome.

Bastian, who is also a Linux client architect at Intel, said that the project will now begin testing to ensure that the interface specifications work across various Linux distributions. A second beta is also planned for later in July.

Novell’s Suse subsidiary has been very supportive of the Portland project, while Red Hat has been “a little on the fence”, according to Bastian. “But we hope to show them that this holds real value for developers,” he added.

Jeremy White, chief executive of Codeweavers, developer of the CrossOver Office tool that lets Linux users run key Microsoft apps, said, “With the increasing use of Linux and the freedom of choice it provides, we want to be sure to continue that choice on as many Linux distributions and desktops as possible. The Portland programming interfaces will give us this capability in a far simpler form.”

Bastian said that Linux on the desktop has passed the “hype” stage of development, and firms are starting to realise what can be achieved with it. “In specific areas it is being deployed successfully, and deployments are growing slowly,” he said.
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