PowerWindows for Linux

Product: AppGen PowerWindows for Linux, Version 5.1--Demo Manufacturer: AppGen Business Software, Inc. E-mail: sales@appgen.com URL: http://www.appgen.com/ Price: $9.95 US for demo, $1,500--$2,500 US for single-user
Demo Installation

As root I mounted /dev/cdrom, and as the "Quick Start" sheet instructed I ran the setup program on the CD (Setup.sh). I was then asked for my initials, my desktop environment (GNOME or KDE) and the install directory. I opted for /opt/appgen rather than the default /usr/appgen. The CD has GNOME and KDE desktop links that point to a Java-based install (gojava), but that install fails on my system (Mandrake 6.0--more on this later).

The install failed upon creating the KDE link:

Setting up KDE ...
ln: cannot create symbolic link
to ´/root/Desktop/PowerWindows.kdelnk´:
No such file or directory sh:
/opt/kde/bin/kfmclient: No such file or
directory Refresh Desktop
failed. You can do it manually later.
You can remove the cdrom now.
/mnt/cdrom/Setup.sh: line 1:  893 Broken pipe   dd
if=/mnt/cdrom/zAG_INIT        894 Done          | sh

I got around this by looking at /root/Desktop/PowerWindows.kdelink and seeing it was just a call to /opt/appgen/autoag:

[root@moe /root]# /opt/appgen/autoag
[root@moe /root]#
error in loading shared libraries:
/opt/appgen/java/jre1.3/lib/i386/native_threads/libhpi.so: symbol
sem_init, version GLIBC_2.1 not defined in file
libpthread.so.0 with link time reference

Hmm--not off to a good start. The README on the CD mentions the installation has been tested on Caldera eDesktop 2.4, Caldera eServer 2.3 and Red Hat 6.2 with the GNOME Desktop, and it should work equally well with other "brands" of Linux. I do have the required glibc v2.1 on my Mandrake system, but it doesn't seem that the included Java Runtime Environment (JRE) wants to work for me.

I did some more looking around and saw the AppGen executable in /opt/appgen/bin, so I modified autoag to call it instead of the Java client:

. /opt/appgen/.profile

This at least got me into the text-based interface (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. The PowerWindows Text-Based Interface

Determined to get the GUI working, I decided to try installation on SuSE 7.0. The README warned that the install expects the CD to be mounted in /mnt/cdrom, and since SuSE puts it in /cdrom, I made a symlink:

cd /mnt/cdrom
ln -s /cdrom cdrom

As root running X, I mounted the CD and clicked on the setup program. This time the GUI install worked (see Figure 2). I again chose /opt/appgen and proceeded with the install. When the install was finished, an AppGen icon was placed on the desktop, and I was informed the application was ready to run. I shut down X as root, then ran X as user "stew", and PowerWindows showed up as an application on my KDE menus (see Figure 3).

Figure 2. Success with the GUI Install!

Figure 3. The PowerWindows Master Menu

The GUI has a modern feel to it. It allows you to open separate windows for the various applications, so you can look at a financial at the same time you are reviewing a BOM, for instance. This has been an issue at times with our text-based system at work, as it requires opening another xterm and session, consuming another license for the software which may block another user from accessing the system. One minor annoyance: if you resize the window, the child windows that may open within it do not track with the parent window, and you may find you have information outside of scrollable reach. Your best bet is probably to leave the windows at their default size. I was running a 1024 x 768 desktop on SuSE, and there was not enough room to have two windows fully visible at one time, although they could be quickly accessed with Alt-Tab. It should be noted that within each application window you also have the ability to open multiple child windows. In addition to the application window, they are displayed on a bottom taskbar, as in Win9X (see Figure 4). If you try to exit the application without closing the child windows, you are warned that you must close them prior to exiting. Responsiveness of the GUI is a little slow on a P166 machine with 80MB RAM running X and KDE. The README recommends 128MB of RAM. I also found performance to be less than optimal displaying the GUI client on another machine running X from a Telnet session on the host machine. Perhaps that will improve as the Linux GUI matures.

Figure 4. PowerWindows Parent and Child Windows with Taskbar