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Borland hopes to tow Windows programmers toward Linux

The bruised software maker introduces programming tools that it says will help Windows programmers easily transfer programs to Linux.

NEW YORK--Bruised software maker Borland introduced programming tools Wednesday that it said will help Windows programmers easily transfer programs to Linux.

The software, called Kylix, is designed not just for desktop applications such as word processing but also for servers running databases and Apache Web server software.

Kylix lets many programs already written to run on Windows use Borland's Delphi programming software to run on Linux as well, Borland CEO Dale Fuller said Wednesday at a news conference at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo. With the arrival Thursday of a new version of Delphi, programs written with Kylix for Linux will be able to run on Windows machines as well.

"The end result is you'll see a lot more applications on Linux," said Simon Thornhill, general manager of Borland's application development group. The software will "help customers moving into the future without abandoning the past."

Not coincidentally, Kylix should help Borland navigate that same terrain: adopting Linux without abandoning its solid customer base of Windows programmers. After struggling financially and seeing a proposed merger with Corel fail, Borland has returned to profitability and is trying to solidify its business model helping programmers.

Borland recently abandoned its attempt to change its name to Inprise, going back to the name that most programmers recognized.

Kylix is designed to hide the complexity of creating Linux software. Using 165 software components called CLX--"component library for cross-platform development"--programmers can more easily create menus, buttons, connections to databases and other features.

The CLX components can "wrap" similar software components used by existing Linux software such as the KDE desktop interface. Though Borland supports the connection to KDE, it's leaving support for the competing Gnome desktop to the open-source community, where programmers already are working on the project, Borland executives said.

The CLX components are available under a dual license--one that permits use in proprietary software and a second, the General Public License, for use with open-source software.

Kylix will come in two commercial versions expected to ship in February: a $999 version for developing desktop programs and a $1,999 version for creating server software that taps into databases or Web servers.

A third version, the "open edition," will cost $99 for a packaged version or be available as a free download. This version allows people to create only open-source software under the GPL.

Borland's competitors aren't standing still. Metrowerks unveiled at the Linux show a new version of its CodeWarrior programming tools for Linux with better support for Sun's Java software.

The software is certified to work with versions of Linux from Red Hat, SuSE and MandrakeSoft. For ties to databases, Kylix connects to Oracle 8i, IBM DB2, MySQL and Borland's Interbase.

Dell will include the software as an option on its Precision workstation line beginning in February.