One of the problems that vex many Linux users is the fact that there are two main competing graphical interfaces - KDE and GNOME. The Portland software project aims to ease the pain of this by attempting to bridge the two together. Portland makes it possible for a developer to write a single software package that works using either of these two established graphical interfaces. It has been approved by both KDE and GNOME, and shows great promise.

Developers on the project have now released version 1.0 of the software. It is hoped that the release of Portland 1.0 will accelerate adoption of Linux on the desktop, and help the desktop Linux market grow to around $10 billion by 2008.

"Linux is the only operating system that doesn't have a unified user interface," said 451 Group analyst Raven Zachary.

"It's not a major problem in most cases, as distributions (Linux software collections supplied by organizations such as Red Hat) solve the problem either by selecting one or offering both options," he said, but added that it's confusing to consumers and resources are being spent supporting two interfaces.

In the future, a similar set of interface tools will be offered for desktop services, in the form of a DAPI (Desktop Application Programming Interface). There are also plans to work on other ways to find common programming ground to make Linux more ISV friendly.