Real Software has embraced Linux in the latest version of its development software - but only if it is installed on a Windows or Mac system.

Those with Windows and Macintosh versions of Realbasic 5.5 will now be able to create Linux desktop and server applications by migrating them from applications written in Visual Basic.

"We've been cross-compiling for a number of years but this is the first version that supports Linux," said Geoff Perlman, president and CEO of Real Software. "The Linux community really needs some easy-to-use tools to write applications if Linux is going to succeed on the desktop in the future."

Realbasic is similar to Visual Basic, which makes it comfortable for developers and allows them to focus on what makes their applications unique, rather than on the complex code-writing needed to produce their work.

"If you're moving an application (from Windows) to a (less popular) platform (like Linux), then the cost of moving it has to be really low," Perlman said. "Realbasic helps keep that cost to a minimum. We don't have a platform agenda. Our agenda is our customers' agenda."

The application is easier to use than other cross-platform environments, including Java, he said, because it's more familiar to developers because of its Visual Basic influences.

Realbasic 5.5 supports Linux for x86 Intel platforms running Red Hat Enterprise Linux or SUSE's version of the operating system. Remote debugging is included in Realbasic 5.5 to allow Linux applications to be tested and debugged from either Windows or Macintosh systems.

Realbasic 5.5 starts at $399.95 (£215).