Suns Latest Plan: Project Mad Hatter

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2002-09-18 Print this article Print

The plan essentially aims to bring to market a Linux desktop that is tied to a server.

SAN FRANCISCO—Sun Microsystems, Inc. on Wednesday announced "Project Mad Hatter," its plan to essentially bring to market a Linux desktop that is tied to a server. Sun executives also made clear that the goal of the offering, as with their ongoing plan to bundle components of the SunONE stack into the Solaris operating environment, is to drive server sales. The new client desktop, which is expected to be widely available in the first quarter of next year, will bring together off-the-shelf hardware, such as its Sun Ray thin client as the interface or a standard low-end desktop PC and open-source technology—namely the Linux operating system, the Mozilla browser, OpenOffice, the Evolution e-mail client and the GNOME desktop environment.
But Sun executives would not give any details on pricing for the new offering or reveal which OEM would supply the non-Sun hardware component. "All the major PC OEMs are interested, but we are not going to add value to that component," said Mark Tolliver, Suns chief strategy officer.
"All of the software is available today, but the integration of open-source software at the front-end is not as good as wed like, so were moving forward on that. You can expect to see a prototype out in iForce technology showrooms within 60 days and delivery following the sign-up of hardware partners and as the software develops," he said. Jonathan Schwartz, who heads Suns software group, said the five-year total for its solution was $296,040—versus more than a million dollars for a stand-alone PC solution. Stacey Quandt, an analyst with Giga Information Group, Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif., expected the desktop offering to be based around a server. "Its most likely it will run on the recently released LX50 server, which runs both Solaris 9 and Suns Linux —whichever the customer chooses," she said. "This is a no-brainer for Sun, as its pretty much just packaging, bundling and pitching their existing products into a SunONE desktop offering," she said.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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