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Tech firms to tackle Linux desktop standards

Nonprofit enlists Adobe, IBM, Intel and HP to make Linux more attractive to desktop software developers.

Some big names in the computer industry are pledging to make the development of desktop applications for the Linux operating system much easier than it has been.

Adobe Systems, IBM, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Novell, RealNetworks and Red Hat are all backing the new Linux standards effort led by the Free Standards Group. The nonprofit organization plans to marshal its resources to form standards for key components of Linux desktop software, including libraries, application runtime and install time. The group said Monday that it will encourage software developers to use its guidelines when building programs for Linux as part of its .

The goal of the project is to encourage the development of more applications for the Linux platform, the group said. Developing applications for Linux desktops is a complicated endeavor now because of significant differences between two prevailing versions, called GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) and KDE (K Desktop Environment).

"With this complex and costly development and support environment, independent software vendors may choose not to target the Linux desktop, leading to reduced choice for end users and an inability to compete with proprietary operating systems," the Free Standards Group said in a statement.

The growth of Linux desktops has been slow, especially among consumers. Microsoft's Windows continues to dominate the PC world. About 90 percent of all desktops and laptops are powered by Microsoft, according to reports from research firms Gartner and IDC.

The Free Standards Group expects to release the first specification for Linux desktop software early next year and to begin certifications shortly afterward. It plans to give compliant applications a "Linux Standard Base Desktop" certification mark.