Solaris Moves to GNOME

Sun to collaborate with Ximian, Wipro; desktop gains features.

GNOME users and developers are upbeat about Sun Microsystems Inc.s decision last week to work with partners to develop a GNOME 2.0-based desktop for Solaris.

Sun will collaborate with open-source software developer Ximian Inc., of Boston, and IT services company Wipro Ltd., of Bangalore, India, to provide a next-generation GNU Network Object Model Environment desktop with Solaris.

Kevin Colquitt, a system administrator at the Texas attorney generals office in Austin and a user of Solaris 8 and GNOME 1.4, welcomed the news, saying GNOME is cleaner than Solaris CDE (Common Desktop Environment). Colquitt said GNOME is easier to configure and more intuitive and has a wider range of applications, utilities and accessories available to it.

The attorney generals office has some 20 machines running Solaris and CDE. After piloting GNOME 1.4, administrators will be rolling out GNOME to those machines. "We are also going to upgrade to Solaris 9 and GNOME 2.0 when they become available," Colquitt said. "The one thing I would like is for GNOME to install more easily, and so I look forward to having it as the default desktop with Solaris in the future."

Jamin Gray, a Unix programmer in St. Louis and a member of the GNOME 2.0 Release Team, said the announcement means that GNOME 2.0 will become a solid and widespread desktop on Solaris workstations. "It also means that GNOME 2.0 will arrive sooner and be of a higher quality," Gray said.

The final version of GNOME 2.0 was expected to be released at the end of this month, but that date will likely be pushed to May. "After testing the first beta, its apparent that were going to need another month or so," Gray said. "Well probably be adding another two beta cycles to the schedule. Well release when its ready."

GNOME 2.0 will have a number of new features, including a new look, stock icons, and improved fonts and graphics, as well as usability improvements, he said.

Leila Chucri, a group product marketing manager at Sun, in Cupertino, Calif., said the GNOME 2.0 implementation for Solaris will be available as a download as soon as it becomes available in the third quarter. It will then be integrated into the second Solaris update, scheduled for release by years end.

CDE will remain the default desktop in Solaris 9 when the latter ships toward the middle of the year, Chucri said.