Canadian software firm Corel has promised to honour its commitment to the Wine project as part of an ongoing effort to bring Windows applications to Linux users.
Corel's commitment to furthering the cause of Linux comes as the company reports another disappointing quarter.
Wine is the ambitious project Corel has been vocal on for over a year. Its goal is to create an environment that will allow Windows applications to run directly on computers supporting the Unix operating system. This is achieved by writing intermediary programs that interpret Windows API commands.
Corel, which launched its own version of the highly popular Unix-like operating system, Linux, in 1999, has played an important role in encouraging the progress of Wine -- principally by hiring full-time developers to work on porting applications.
At the beginning of the year, however, Corel announced a deal with server technology firm GraphOn to enable Corel Linux users to run Windows applications remotely from a server. This caused concern for some who suggested it this could mean the end of the Corel's profitable involvement with the Wine program. "We're working on both and they're not mutually exclusive," said Corel's chief technical officer, Derek Burney. "Our overall Linux effort is growing, and Wine is expanding all the time. We're helping others to port their applications to Linux.
Corel is hoping to encourage desktop users accustomed to Windows applications to use its version of Linux. "We're showing that Linux is ready for the desktop," said Corel chief executive, Michael Cowpland. "It's every bit as easy, or easier, to use than Windows." Cowpland promises that Corel will continue to hire developers involved in projects like Wine, as well as allocate its own development resources to such ventures.
The company also believes the future of computing is very much Linux-shaped. "The future is going to be a variety of platforms. It only makes sense to centralise around one operating system. The operating system is the common denominator. We're keen on everything -- including Transmeta and mobile Linux -- that expands the Linux universe."
Linux is already a highly competitive server operating system, but its path to the desktop has been more complicated -- partly due to an exaggerated reputation as an unfriendly OS and partly because of the overwhelming prevalence of Windows and Macintosh.
According to Cowpland, the secret to breaking Linux onto the desktop is combining expertise in both these areas. "GraphOn applications are going very well," said Cowpland. "People are using GraphOn for legacy applications, but Wine is getting there. The paradox is that some applications work even faster using Wine than they do on Windows."