Ubuntu to Support Sun Niagara Platform

The agreement with Linux vendor Canonical is yet another example of Sun's courtship of the open-source community.

Sun Microsystems and Canonical are going to help each other expand the reach of their respective products.

The two companies on May 30 officially announced that UK-based Canonicals Ubuntu Linux distribution will support Suns UltraSPARC T1 platform.

The vendors took the stage two weeks ago at Suns quarterly product rollout and said that such an agreement was on its way.

The agreement—in which Canonicals free Debian-based Ubuntu 6.06 Long Term Support Linux distribution will run on Suns T1000 and T2000 servers—is the latest step in Suns courtship of the open-source community, which in the past has included the release of such technologies as Solaris and UltraSPARC T1 to the community.

Eventually the Santa Clara, Calif., company will open-source Java, CEO Jonathan Schwartz and Senior Vice President Richard Green said at the Sun event May 16.

At the same time, the deal gives Canonical an avenue into the server space. Ubuntu has seen solid adoption in the desktop space, and is beginning to get traction in the server market as well, said Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth.

The release of Ubuntu 6.06 LTS is scheduled for June 1, he said.

Shuttleworth pointed to Suns OpenSPARC project, based on the T1 chip, as a key part of this agreement with Sun. The project, kicked off in February, has initiated a "flurry of activity" among open-source developers, he said.

He was initially skeptical of the plan, but has been impressed with the amount of access to the T1 the open-source community is getting.

"With Sun, were getting a commitment to complete transparency, right down to the actual metal," Shuttleworth said.

/zimages/1/28571.gifSuns open-source outreach met with mixed emotions. Click here to read more.

The T1, introduced in the fall, offers up to eight cores that can run four instruction threads simultaneously. Sun officials are targeting the platform at the Web transaction space, a market that the company had not seen much traction in previously.

However, competitors say the T1 will be little more than a niche technology. Still, Sun is pushing forward with the platform, already taping out the second version, dubbed "Niagara II," and working on the third version.

Sun is undergoing a revamping of its server line in hopes of growing its market opportunities. The company currently offers a line of systems powered by Advanced Micro Devices Opteron chip in hopes of muscling into the x86 server space.

Sun officials see the Ubuntu support as another step in that direction.

"This is really a great opportunity to go after a greater market expansion," said Fadi Azhari, director of outbound marketing at Sun.

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