LinuxWorld: Is it a Sun World After All?

 
 
By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2004-01-22
 
 
 

Novell Inc. is getting most of the attention at LinuxWorld, but Sun Microsystems Inc. has also had interesting announcements.

But what I find the most interesting is that Im beginning to believe, though cyber cynic I am, that Sun really gets that its future lies at least as much in Linux and x86 platforms as it does in Solaris and SPARC.

For the longest time, Sun would blow hot and cold on Linux. But, now when Simon Phipps, Suns chief technology evangelist, says that Sun has multiple Linux strategies, Im inclined to believe in him.

In part, thats because Peter Ulander, Suns director of desktop systems, tells me that the push for Java Desktop System is coming from users who need to upgrade their desktop systems but cant afford the infrastructure costs of moving to modern Windows. Ive talked to many business people who tell me the same thing: to doubt him.

While Sun still thinks that thin-clients, like its Sun Rays, are the wave of the future (and I still maintain that thin-clients can never be a mass office product), Sun also seem quite serious about making Java Desktop System a mainstay of its desktop approach.

Sun doesnt need to convince me that Sun is serious about the x86, they need to convince OEMs and customers. It seems to be doing that. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. director of worldwide business development, Kevin Knox, described Sun as a major, long-term strategic partner. Listening to him with his Sun associates made me think that someday AMSun might become as common a phrase as Wintel. Mind you, as Ulander says, people at Sun still have trouble saying the x86 word, but they are learning how to say it now.

Click here for an article on Xandros: the latest Linux company to throw its hat into the business desktop ring.

Gerry McGowan, vice-president of Innovative Systems Design Inc., a major Sun reseller, tells me that beginning six months ago, corporate customers started asking for all the developments-JDS and Linux-that Sun is now delivering.

Hmmm... Customer push, reseller push, strategic partnerships? Maybe Sun is getting that Linux on x86 machines is the way to go.

Still, Id like to see Sun really indemnify not just Java Desktop System, but the SuSE and Red Hat Linux Sun OEMs as well. Suns executives say that the Linux vendors should do this first, but Novell/SuSE is doing that now. And, Red Hats recent efforts, while falling short of real indemnification, is at least moving in the right direction.

And for me to fully trust that Sun gets the Linux/Intel market, I really want to see Sun get rid of its The SCO Group Inc. investments. If Sun is to become a Linux power as well as a Solaris power, and I feel it must for the long term, it must drop SCO. This isnt just for Suns customers well-being, its for Suns as well. You cant be a Linux player and an SCO supporter; its as simple as that.

eWEEK.com Linux & Open Source Center Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way. Be sure to check out eWEEK.coms Linux and Open Source Center at for the latest Linux news, views and analysis.

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