Sun to Expand Market for its Linux Variant

Sun Microsystems intends to extend the reach of its Java Desktop System by ensuring that this Linux variant will run on all major Linux distributions.

Sun Microsystems Inc. has big plans for its Java Desktop System and on Tuesday announced a new program that will allow its desktop Linux variant to run on all major Linux distributions.

While Sun remains fully committed to the JDS on both the Solaris and Sun Ray environments, it seeks to address the Linux space going forward and offer customers choice in this regard.

"As such, we have decided to expand our play in that space and be able to not just address one desktop environment in that space that we might produce, but to make sure the JDS is prolific on all Linux distributions," John Loiacono, Suns executive vice president for software, said Tuesday at a town hall briefing at its San Francisco offices.

The JDS is currently based on a derivative of SuSE Linux, but Sun now wants the product to be available on every Linux desktop system, from Red Hat to SuSE to Debian, Gentoo, Yellow Dog, Red Flag and Linspire, to name a few, he said.

The move to making the product available on multiple Linux distributions comes in part to meet the individual needs of various countries across the globe that are looking to provide a standardized desktop to their residents, but each of which is based on different, local Linux distribution.

Sun is talking to a range of Linux software and hardware developers about this new program, which is known as the JDS Partners Program, said Tom Goguen, the vice president of operating systems at Sun, at the town hall meeting.

"We have taken the major components of JDS, mostly in the application space and including StarOffice, Java and Suns Java Virtual Machine, along with a specification and branding requirements, and made them available to this program," he said.

"We will also provide back to GNOME any changes we have made to make the JDS run on both Solaris and the Linux platforms, and will also be making a reference release of JDS on a Linux distribution available," he said.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about the latest version of GNOME.

All of this would be packaged up together as an OEM program and be made available to any Linux distribution that wants to have a play in the volume desktop market and leverage the technologies and applications that Sun has been investing in over the past few years, Goguen said.

The features from Suns 3-D Looking Glass technology would also be included in the JDS from next year.

"We have been working on this with the open-source community on this technology, and the features that have been fed back to us from there will be made available to our desktop system going forward," he said.

/zimages/1/28571.gifRead more here about Project Looking Glass.

While Sun has distributed more than 3 million Solaris licenses and "JDS went along with every one of them," Goguen said he could not say how many licenses had been distributed on Linux.

Next Page: Solaris 10 support.