We could browse through Windows (via Samba) and NFS shares through the Network Places screen, and we could create links to Samba, NFS, Webdav and FTP locations here as well. We had to re-enter our user name and password information each time we visited these places, though, and wed like to see a facility for securely caching this information. Nautilus in JDS also contains a facility for turning folders into NFS shares by right-clicking on them, but this feature was not working in the build we tested. Sun officials said a fix for this bug will be available in an update; wed also like to see a similar facility created for defining Samba shares because Windows is not capable of browsing NFS shares.Suns added a new task-bar element to its version of GNOME that mimics the blinking-green-lights Ethernet monitor that users will recognize from Windows. Its a small addition, but it makes the environment more familiar, and its handy for figuring out basic information such as your IP address and network device MAC address.JDS ships with StarOffice 7, which has impressed us with its capability as a productivity suite and compatibility with Microsoft Office during long-term testing. See eWEEK Labs review of StarOffice 7. For Web browsing, JDS ships with Mozilla 1.4, which, with its pop-up blocking, tabbed browsing and faithful HTML rendering, has consistently outperformed Internet Explorer in eWEEK Labs tests. See eWEEK Labs review of Mozilla 1.4. JDS helpfully comes preconfigured with key plug-ins, including Suns Java virtual machine, RealNetworks Inc.s RealPlayer and Macromedia Inc.s Flash player. Red Hats all-GPL (GNU Public License) offerings, in contrast, lack these nonfree but vital components. JDS lacks a plug-in for playing Windows Media or QuickTime videos, although both may be played on Linux systems using the free-software media player Xine. Suns Linux desktop ships with Gaim, the popular multiprotocol instant messaging client. But, interestingly, the Gaim version thats included lacks support for Microsofts MSN network. JDS includes Ximians Evolution 1.4.5 for e-mail, contacts and calendaring. This version of Evolution works with Suns Sun ONE back-end services, but we did not test this functionality. Discuss This in the eWEEK ForumSenior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.