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Fujitsu marries COBOL and Linux

The growing popularity of the Linux operating system, particularly in server-side implementations, has drawn a burgeoning roster of big-name technology companies into its orbit in recent years. IBM, Oracle and Sun have all promised serious support for Linux, and with Microsoft's first-time appearance this month as an exhibitor at the LinuxWorld trade show, even the crew from Redmond appear to be cuddling up to the Penguin.

Another big-name software supplier - Fujitsu, which doesn't quickly leap to mind when the discussion turns to the open-source OS - has staked a claim in Linux land. Last week, Fujitsu unveiled Linux implementations of its mainstay COBOL products.

Fujitsu's San Jose, Calif.-based software division, Fujitsu Software Corp., said it would add Linux support to its NetCOBOL products line during June's COBOL Expo 2002 in Chicago. The NetCOBOL line includes three product packages for Windows, three for Microsoft's .NET, and two for UNIX.

''Fujitsu has seen increasing requests for NetCOBOL on Linux over the last two to three years from major customers as well as smaller companies,'' said Ron Langer, Fujitsu Software's director of languages. ''These requests are in line with the growing respect that Linux enjoys as a platform for mainstream business applications. We pick our platforms carefully. We prefer to focus our efforts on a few strategic platforms rather than spread ourselves thinly across many.''

Fujitsu Software is one of the leading suppliers of COBOL compilers and tools, and though it's long been out of the spotlight, COBOL remains a major language for business applications. In use since the late 1950s, a survey conducted in 2000 by industry analysts Thomas Wolfgang Burger found COBOL tied with Visual Basic at about 35 percent of microcomputer development.

''Our customers' requests have made NetCOBOL for Linux a mandate,'' Langer told eADT last week. ''Linux has long been praised for its stability -- a feature that is also associated with NetCOBOL. It was clear that we needed to bring NetCOBOL to Linux so we are extremely pleased to be announcing the product's full release.''

The NetCOBOL Linux release includes support for the COBOL 85 standard, object-oriented COBOL extensions, embedded SQL, data file maintenance tools and NetCOBOL's API for creating CGI Internet applications, the company said. It also provides an Eclipse-based IDE that includes an interactive debugger. Fujitsu has pledged support for the Eclipse open source effort.

According to Fujitsu, NetCOBOL for Linux was tested and developed on the Intel x86 distribution of Red Hat Linux. For more information, click on www.netcobol.com. For more information about the Eclipse Project, click on www.eclipse.org.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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