Set for public release next month, LINA is a new approach to cross-platform development. Write your app once, for Linux, then deploy using a lightweight virtual machine, implemented for Windows, Mac and Linux. Why even Linux on Linux? Well, on Linux compatibility is a problem, with a multitude of different distributions out there. A VM provides a secure, reliable and predictable environment for your app. LINA’s creators claim to have solved the obvious problems: access to resources in the host operating system, and matching the look and feel which the user is expecting.
I’ll look it with interest when it appears next month, but I’m sceptical. It strikes me as a heavyweight approach, and I’d like to see the extent to which LINA blends with the host O/S before believing all the claims. Some of the publicity annoys me too. Here’s a quote from the white paper:
All computer users – individuals and organizations alike – make the most fundamental software decision when they choose an operating system. Historically, this choice locks the user into a single, clearly-demarcated realm of available software. As a result, Windows and Mac users have virtually no access to the vast world of Open Source software.
I do most of my work on Windows Vista, so apparently I have “virtually no access” to open source software. Yet happily installed on the Vista box in front of me is:
- Open Office
- Apache web server (installed with Delphi for PHP)
- Tortoise SVN (Subversion client)
- 7-Zip file archiver
- Audacity sound editor
- Ethereal Network Protocol Analyzer
- NetBeans Java IDE
- Eclipse Java IDE
and I’m sure there is more if I spend time looking. All open source, mostly cross-platform. Some of this is on the techie side; but the first two above are true mainstream apps.
Writing cross-platform apps is still a challenge, but easier than was the case a few years back, with numerous viable approaches available. So do we really need LINA?