Sun Microsystems Inc. has asked open-source desktop software provider Ximian Inc. and IT service company Wipro Ltd. to work with it on developing a next-generation open-source desktop environment that will be based on GNOME 2.0 for the Solaris operating environment.
While Sun had originally hoped to have GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) 2.0 as the default desktop environment in the Solaris 9 operating environment for network servers when it shipped toward the middle of this year, company officials told eWEEK last October that differing product time frames meant that GNOME 2.0 would not be ready by the time Solaris 9 shipped in the first half of 2002.
As a result, the Solaris CDE (Common Desktop Environment) would remain the default operating environment when Solaris 9 shipped, they said at that time. That remains the current plan, with GNOME 2.0 for Solaris being targeted for separate online delivery in the third quarter and then, over time, being delivered with the Solaris operating environment as well as preloaded on Sun workstations.
"By providing CDE and the GNOME 2.0 desktop with the next major release of the Solaris operating environment, users will be able to easily select their desktop of choice and can easily run CDE and Java applications on the GNOME desktop, unmodified," said Mike Rogers, Suns vice president and general manager for desktop and StarOffice products.
Sun will, in conjunction with Ximian and Wipro, based in Bangalore, India, provide its Solaris software enterprise customers with an offering that integrates the modern GNOME desktop with a suite of applications, accessories and utilities; StarOffice; and Netscape to meet the everyday needs of business organizations, he added.
Sun last month released the second early access version of its upcoming Solaris 9 operating environment for network servers and again said the final product was expected to ship in the second quarter.
Jon Perr, vice president of marketing for Boston-based Ximian, told eWEEK that once the GNOME 2.0 desktop is deployed for Solaris, it will subsequently be made available for Sun workstations and provided electronically.
"This move also shows that Sun wants to work with those external companies that have been productizing and have existing experience in delivering GNOME for Solaris. Sun will be working with both Ximian and Wipro in this regard," he said.
The Wipro Platforms Group will coordinate the overall coordination and integration of the project, including porting and migration, bug fixing, accessibility enabling, and testing of the GNOME solution. It will also carry out the integration of the GNOME solution with the existing CDE and provide complete life-cycle maintenance in the post-release phase, Perr said.
"For its part, Ximian will bring its GNOME expertise to the project as well as help foster and accelerate the GNOME community involvement in bringing this project to a speedy completion. We will leverage our expertise to extend the work of the GNOME project and provide a compelling desktop that will enhance the user experience for the Solaris software user community," he said.
GNOME 2.0 for Solaris will capitalize on many popular GNOME features, including an intuitive GUI for easy navigation to menus and applications; user personalization and customization; access to productivity tools; open standards; drag-and-drop file management; and Internet browsing, Perr said.
While Sun views GNOME 2.0 as the preferred modern desktop environment in the future, it will continue to provide support for CDE. But, going forward, Sun also intends to integrate the GNOME solution with the existing CDE environment, with the resulting new environment serving as the preferred desktop for Solaris and available on the Solaris 8 operating system and higher, Rogers said.
Perr said Ximian will continue to offer its own version of Ximian GNOME for Solaris 8, while also making its applications available for Solaris 9. "Providing a single, unified desktop experience across Linux and Unix is becoming increasingly important, and this latest move by Sun will help that happen," he said.
GNOME is an open-source software project that is developing the GNOME desktop and includes hundreds of developers worldwide. Sun has already made numerous contributions to the GNOME project and other open-source efforts. Earlier this month, Sun announced it will be a more active participant in the open-source and Linux communities.