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Developer's Toolbox: Linux Tools

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Richard Smith

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Posted: 13 May 2004

Welcome to this month's Developer Toolbox. We have a number of cool tools to talk about: REALbasic, Kylix and MonoDevelop. What these tools all have in common is that they allow you to take code written for the Windows platform and run it on Linux. Now these tools don't, in every case, do this without some additional work, but if you have an investment in code running on Windows and want to migrate to Linux, these tools offer a very viable path.


There are a lot of Visual Basic developers in the world. Microsoft created a tool in VB that allowed developers to easily and quickly create applications that provided easy to use GUI interfaces and were connected to vital business resources. Thousands of applications have been created using VB's easy to use interface, the wealth of add-ons for VB, and the speed with which an application can be prototyped and coded.

REALbasic is a cross-platform development environment that in many ways is similar to Visual Basic. There is also a free tool provided that will convert a large portion of a VB project to REALbasic. The development process with REALbasic is very similar to Visual Basic, and VB developers will find it easy to transition to REALbasic.

With support for connecting to industry-standard databases and also to interfacing with MS Office applications, REALbasic is a very powerful tool for designing and delivering enterprise solutions. But perhaps in our context the most significant feature that REALbasic has going for it is the ability to build and deploy applications across Windows, Linux and Macintosh platforms from a single development environment. Currently the development tool is only available on Windows and Mac, but a Linux version is not far off.

You can get more information about REALbasic and download an evaluation copy at Also look for an in-depth article about REALbasic migration of Visual Basic applications to Linux in a future Cool Solutions for Developers article.

Borland Kylix

Kylix offers you the option of developing using C/C++ or Borland's Delphi language and building applications that can be compiled and run on both Linux and Windows.

Some features common to the IDE for both programming languages are:

  • Visual design tools that simplify the creation of GUI applications
  • Advanced code editor
  • An integrated debugger
  • Borland CLX (more on this later)

The C++ compiler is ANSI/ISO compliant and features 32-bit optimized code compilation, provides support for inline assembly for the P4 ,and compiles to native Linux executables. The C/C++ compiler allows development of applications in either Kylix C/C++ or Borland C++ Builder on Windows and allows you to compile that same code on the other platform.

As for the Delphi side of Kylix, this is the result of many, many years of Pascal development tools at Borland. Dating all the way back to Turbo Pascal (you may not want to admit that you actually know what that is!), the Delphi component of Kylix offers developers, who have built applications using Object Pascal for years on Windows, a new market for those applications. Delphi has long been a solid development platform, allowing the building of fast, GUI applications. Another of Delphi's strengths was the ease with which one could develop database applications quickly. These aspects of traditional Delphi development are part of Kylix.

For more details and to download a free personal use version of Kylix 3 visit Borland at


MonoDevelop is a relatively new project that is based on porting SharpDevelop to GTK#. Since MonoDevelop is so new, many of the features that it will eventually have are still in the design stage, but you can download and install a version now, go through the tutorials provided and have a very workable development environment for building Mono applications.

The current feature list includes code completion, built-in help for both .NET and GTK#, framework projects that make getting an application started easier, integration with the Mono debugger, and complete management of the classes within your project.

The download page contains very complete instructions on the proper installation of MonoDevelop, and from there you can go to the tutorials page and work through the tutorials to get your feet wet with using the IDE. One area that currently is lacking from MonoDevelop is a visual GUI builder and designer. This is on the ToDo list from MonoDevelop, but isn't in the current release.

You will also find a link to a page describing how you can get involved with the MonoDevelop project in a number of ways.

Got a favorite tool?

We're always looking for interesting new development tools, specifically for Linux developers. If you have one that we haven't discussed, or even if we have and you have additional ideas, drop us a line and we'll see if it will fit in here.

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