Sun Microsystems Inc. and SuSE Linux A.G. have entered into a global alliance that calls for Sun to preinstall SuSE Linuxs Enterprise Server 8 on its commodity x86 hardware systems, while SuSE becomes a Java 2 Standard Edition source licensee and will distribute Suns Java Virtual Machine with all its Linux products, the two companies announced Thursday.
While Red Hat already ships the Sun JVM with some of its distributions, it does not have a Java source license. Ann Wettersten, a Sun systems software vice president, told eWEEK on Thursday that the source license will allow SuSE to work with Sun on developing new applications and solutions with Java and continue to tune it for its platform.
“This is the first step in our relationship with SuSE,” she said, adding that specific product availability on the server side will be released later this fall.
SuSE Chief Technology Officer Jurgen Geck told eWEEK that SuSE had so far been using the binary, pre-sold version of the Sun JVM, which was integrated with a variety of the components SuSE shipped.
“With the source code available and the ability to compile it ourselves, we are going to be a lot more flexible and will help with all the flavors of SuSE Linux and the code base underneath. Its just a better fit,” he said.
SuSE is also looking to do more on the Java stack, but this will not necessarily come from the company itself but rather from its partners. “We are looking at a variety of Java 2 Enterprise Edition implementations. Its always a good thing to have a consistent build as a platform for the additional stuff that will be built on top of that. The foundation of our Java strategy will be built around the Sun Java stack,” Geck said.
Sun, in collaboration with SuSE, will also provide global services and support for SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 on its x86 systems as well as on other third-party SuSE-certified hardware.
In addition, Sun will support customers in heterogeneous environments, including Solaris, Trusted Solaris, the Solaris x86 Platform Edition and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8, as well as in other Sun-supported Linux offerings, including those from Red Hat Inc.
The deal follows a major strategy shift for Sun around Linux in March, where the company said it would stop offering its own customized version of Linux and would instead turn to several other standard Linux distributions—Red Hat and SuSE.
Suns latest announcement of support for SuSE Linux comes as controversy swirls around the open-source operating system. The SCO Group, which says Linux is an unauthorized derivative of Unix, is suing IBM for more than $1 billion in a contract dispute.
Sun last month also expanded its licensing arrangements with SCO to use Unix in its Solaris operating system. But, at the same time, SCO granted Sun a warrant to buy as many as 210,000 shares of SCO stock at $1.83 per share as part of the licensing deal.
Sun also appears to be playing both sides of the fence with regard to the Linux controversy. It has indemnified customers who use its Solaris kernel, but has not done so with regard to customers using Linux.
Sun CEO Scot McNealy recently told eWEEK that “youll have to go ask Red Hat if they will indemnify you on Linux. … If SCO decides to go after end users and ask for a royalty, that is a liability the end users are taking on.”
Suns Wettersten would only say that Sun holds the intellectual property rights for Solaris and is unaffected by the current SCO lawsuit against IBM. “We continue to reassure our customers on that and are actively working with our partners. But thats all I can say,” she said.
(Editors Note: This story has been updated since its original posting to include comments from Sun VP Ann Wettersten and SuSE CTO Jurgen Geck.)