Graphical Toolkits for Linux Programs

A brief look at several popular toolkits available for Linux.
Motif, the Standard

Motif has been the standard graphical toolkit for years on UNIX and other platforms. It is a commercial standard and has its own look. Motif is the base for the popular CDE desktop environment, also a standard on many commercial UNIX systems.

On Linux and other open systems, developers have made a free Motif clone called LessTif. LessTif is source compatible with Motif and available under the L-GPL. Motif and LessTif offer cross-platform compatibility among UNIX systems. While Motif code will not work on most non-UNIX systems, many commercial UNIX systems come with Motif libraries. Also, Motif has the advantage of having passed the test of time.

LessTif is available from http://www.lesstif.org/. LessTif documentation is available from www.lesstif.org/Lessdox/lesstif.html.

While I have not covered all existing toolkits, I have briefly covered the most popular ones. Most programmers are concerned about two things: graphical look and portability. GTK and QT are probably used the most in the Linux world, mainly because of the GNOME and KDE desktop environments. Users want a desktop that will provide all utilities using the same graphical look. I use both GTK and GraphApp, but this is a personal choice which every programmer must make for himself.

The GNOME web page is at http://www.gnome.org/. The KDE web page is at http://www.kde.org/.

Patrick Lambert is currently a student in Computer Science at the University of Montréal. He has been using various UNIX and Linux systems for 5 years, doing software development and systems administration. He can be reached at drow@darkelf.net.

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