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Which applications can and can not be ported to Linux?

Are there any guidelines for which applications can and can not be ported to Linux?

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If an application can be ported to some version of Unix, it is safe to assume that it can be ported to Linux. In general, most applications can be ported to Linux. Where there is a choice of continuing to use both Linux and another (the original) platform, it is a good idea to port applications in a prioritized manner. The priority would depend on the main reason for migrating to Linux.

In general, those applications that are primarily developed in C, C++ and SQL can be ported first. This is not only easy, but will quickly build confidence in the migration plan.

Applications developed using visual programming languages like VB can be ported next. It may be necessary to use appropriate tools to automate the conversion of VB to either C++, Java, Tcl/Tk or Python. Irrespective of the choice of the newer language, this is a nice opportunity to move towards model driven development, using a language like UML for modeling the application and generating the actual code either manually or automatically using a rule driven tranformer or code generator.

Primarily client applications developed using visual languages will need some re-engineering for porting to Linux.

For applications developed using COBOL or other languages, make sure that your compiler and version are available on Linux from your vendor. If they are, then porting these applications can be done next. If not, such applications may have to be ported to either C++ or Java. Again, it is a good idea to go for model driven development when moving over to a new language.

This was first published in January 2005

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