Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie, Kalyan Ramanathan, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Migrating Visual Basic Applications to Linux

Finding a reliable, easy-to-use porting solution for Visual Basic applications

Linux is gaining ground in the enterprise. It began on the server, but more and more Linux is being tested and deployed on the desktop. Linux solutions for typical business productivity applications, including Evolution, Mozilla, and OpenOffice, are available and included with most Linux distributions.

This availability of cost-effective hardware, reliable Linux distributions, and general-purpose business productivity applications is helping to drive Linux to the desktop, that is, except in situations where enterprise applications are custom-developed in Visual Basic, and currently run only on Windows.

Because enterprises generally don't migrate all of their systems to Linux at once, companies should seek solutions that port Visual Basic applications to Linux and continue to support Windows as well. They should also enable their developers to use a familiar development environment, a familiar language, and, most important, help preserve a company's investment in its existing code. In addition, they should seek to minimize deployment-related support problems.

What Are the Options?

The main options for migrating appli-cations cross platform include Mono/.NET, Java, and REALbasic. There are also two main issues to consider as you make a decision on which tools to use to migrate a large-scale Visual Basic application to Linux: ease of development, which is critical for your developers, and ease of deployment, which is important to end users and support staff.

Why Not .NET and Mono?

Visual Basic developers were waiting for Visual Basic 7 when Microsoft announced that the next version of Visual Basic would be VB.NET. The VB.NET environment was more modern to be sure, but very different from Visual Basic 6, and, in fact, incompatible with Visual Basic 6. For the first time since Visual Basic 2, a new Visual Basic could not open, run, and compile the previous version's code. Developers found .NET to be slower and more complex. They also found the .NET language to be very different from Visual Basic 6.

What .NET did do is provide a common language runtime (CLR) that all Microsoft .NET languages now use. Because of this, the open source Mono project was started - a platform-independent implementa-tion of the CLR. The Mono project has focused its attention on .NET, using C#, so that developers can move their projects to Linux using Mono. To use Mono to migrate projects to Linux, Visual Basic developers must learn C# and .NET, make major changes to the project code, and use the CLR.

For deployment, the 20 megabyte .NET application framework must be installed on every desktop in order for .NET applications to run. This .NET Framework attempts to maintain backward and forward compatibility between versions. A change to the .NET Framework that improves security, correctness, or functionality might also raise compatibility issues. These compatibility issues can cause software that used to work on .NET to not work when the framework is updated.

There is another deployment consideration as well. For .NET and Mono to work, the thousands of APIs available from third parties need to be standardized for Windows and Linux. As an example, we are all very familiar with the HTML standard, and we see the implications of this standard every day when we use different browser technologies. The different browsers are all required to be compliant with the HTML standard, but you can see that browsers don't render pages in the same manner, even though they are standards compliant. Real-world deployment and testing will always be a consideration for standardized environments.

What About Java?

In terms of ease of development, Java development is not much different from .NET/Mono as you have to learn a new language and deal with multiple Java Virtual Machines and their inherent incompatibilities. All of this adds a layer of complexity to the transition effort; successful transitions minimize complexity in the process.

In terms of ease of deployment, Java has succeeded on the server, but has had limited success on the desktop, because Java applications require a virtual machine to be installed on every desktop. End users or support staff must manage the compatibility of the Linux distribution and the JVM. If they're incompatible, the application cannot be used and this can end up being a support nightmare for the enterprise.

Easy Development, Easy Deployment

Using REAL Software's REALbasic, Visual Basic programmers are instantly productive because they are provided with a development environment and a language that are very similar to the familiar Visual Basic environment. In addition, REALbasic comes with a porting utility that helps convert Visual Basic projects to this similar environment. Unlike Java, however, REALbasic creates native applications that have the look, feel, and behavior of applications written exclusively for a single target platform, whether it is Windows (98/NT/Me/2000/XP), Linux, or Mac OS X.

In addition, REALbasic solves the deployment problems by creating self-contained executables. There are no libraries or frameworks to install on the target platforms. This not only makes the applications easier to deploy and support and has the added benefit of eliminating the need for DLLs (though it doesn't limit a user from using COM controls if needed for a project) for those that continue to support Windows.

There is a variety of solutions out there that can help migrate Windows applications to Linux. The key is to find those that bring your business-critical applications to Linux, don't stress out developers, and minimize deployment issues for your end users and support staff.

More Stories By Geoffrey S. Perlman

Geoff Perlman is CEO of REAL Software, Inc. A seasoned software professional, Geoff believes that programming tools should be easy to use, powerful, and provide people with the freedom to create whatever software they need for the platforms they care about. Before founding REAL Software, Geoff taught thousands of people to create software through training courses and a book he wrote for Sybex.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Unsecured IoT devices were used to launch crippling DDOS attacks in October 2016, targeting services such as Twitter, Spotify, and GitHub. Subsequent testimony to Congress about potential attacks on office buildings, schools, and hospitals raised the possibility for the IoT to harm and even kill people. What should be done? Does the government need to intervene? This panel at @ThingExpo New York brings together leading IoT and security experts to discuss this very serious topic.
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"At ROHA we develop an app called Catcha. It was developed after we spent a year meeting with, talking to, interacting with senior citizens watching them use their smartphones and talking to them about how they use their smartphones so we could get to know their smartphone behavior," explained Dave Woods, Chief Innovation Officer at ROHA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation; Alan Williamson, Principal...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, discussed recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model for ...
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.