Sun Jumps on Linux Bandwagon
Sun Microsystems Inc. on Thursday took aim at Microsoft Corp. and IBM, announcing that it will expand its commitment to Linux across its product line and will for the first time ship a full implementation of the Linux operating system.
"We are now embracing the Linux operating system and its development community," said Ed Zander, president and chief operating officer of Sun in a conference call this morning. "This announcement is more about Microsoft than anything else. We want to bring the two non-Microsoft communities together. Linux and Solaris are strong cousins, and we want to offer users of Windows NT an alternative and help them get out of this space.
"This is a win for those customers who embrace Unix and Linux and who are looking for an alternative to both IBM and Microsoft and their proprietary systems," Zander said.
In announcing a multipart program that would broaden its offerings of Linux on low-end Sun servers and commit new resources to the ongoing development of Linux, Zander said Sun would ship a full implementation of Linux on a new line of general purpose servers aimed at pro-viding "edge" services to environments such as workgroups and remote offices.
Zander declined to give specific details about the new products and servers, saying these would come in the next few days, weeks and months, but he did announce new single- and multi-processor Sun systems due for release later this year that would use the x86 architecture and be ca-pable of running thousands of Linux applications natively.
Sun would also expand is line of Sun Cobalt Linux appliances going forward, with innova-tions going beyond the current eight-inch-square Qube and the 1.75-inch-high rack-mountable configurations.
Zander and other Sun officials denied that this move was a change in focus or strategy for them, pointing out that the company has been shipping Linux on its Cobalt range of products for some time now and already had a team of Linux developers.
"We have more experience with Linux than companies like Dell and already contribute re-sources and technology to free and open source projects including OpenOffice.org, GNOME.org, Mozilla.org, Apache.org, NetBeans.org, X.org, WBEMsource Initiative, the University of Michigan NFS version 4 Linux port, the Grid Engine Project, and Project JXTA," Zander said.
Sun plans to participate more in the Linux developer community by freely offering key components of its Solaris operating environment software, and by releasing tools to help develop-ers ensure compatibility between these two Unix derivatives.
Sun systems already have built-in compatibility with Linux that allows Solaris-based systems to run Linux applications. The company also on Thursday announced the Linux Compatibility Toolkit (LinCAT) which would help Linux applications run on the Sun Fire family of servers.
Sun today released an application development tool, ABIcheck, to the Open Source com-munity, which is designed to ensure compatibility between Linux releases, while the Palo Alto-based company would also contribute to the Linux kernel in the future.
The Linux initiative will further expand its partnerships within the community to provide native support of Linux on SPARC systems for both the telecommunications and embedded mar-kets. Companies such as SuSE and Lineo support Linux running natively on Suns SPARC micro-processors, with Lineo now adapting and supporting its Embedix embedded Linux operating sys-tem on processor-based UltraSPARC custom hardware developed for end users.
Suns upcoming Solaris 9 operating environment will provide additional built-in Linux commands, utilities, and interfaces. "We believe that our further commitment to Linux will reinforce sales of Solaris and give additional impetus to the Solaris operating environment," Zander said.
On the desktop, the GnomeLinux user environment would become the preferred desktop for Solaris when GNOME 2.0 shipped later this year.
Sun will support its Linux products with a set of professional services that will be available toward the middle of the year. And, as announced on this week, Sun would support Linux on its StorEdge line of storage systems and software, he said.
Key Sun Open Net Environment (Sun ONE) technologies will be made available to the Linux platform, including the iPlanet Directory and Web servers, Forte for Java development tools, the Java/XML platform, Project JXTA, its StarOffice productivity suite, Sun Chili!Soft ASP, and the Sun Grid Engine, officials said.