Sun Microsystems Inc. on Thursday will use the Desktop Linux Summit in San Diego to announce that the second version of its Java Desktop System will be generally available in the first week of May.
Curtis Sasaki, Suns vice president of desktop solutions, told eWEEK in an interview Wednesday, ahead of the summit, that among the key advances in version 2.0 are management capabilities that allow enterprises to fine-tune and remotely set up the desktop.
“They can turn features like macros on and off and can even modify the background screen for branding purposes,” Sasaki said. “We have also added in remote desktop capabilities.
“And through our partnership with Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS), one of our enterprise support partners, they have access to remote diagnosis of their desktops as well as help fixing these,” he said. “We are also using EDS internal to Sun.”
Also included in the latest software is an auto-update feature that allows enterprises to have their own mechanisms behind the firewall, and this feature would be used for both security and application downloads. Customers already using the Java Desktop System would be able to request a CD update of the software or download an update from the Web, Sasaki said.
He will demonstrate the new features and functionality at the summit and during his speech Friday, titled “Learning from Customers to Reduce Barriers to Enterprise Linux Desktops.” Sasaki also will be talking up adoption of the Sun desktop system. More than 250 enterprises are trying out the software in their own environments through pilot programs, and the company had sold “tens of thousands of licenses, if not even more, as all the figures are not back yet,” he said.
About 1,500 ISV developers had signed up for the Java desktop ISV program. “The good news here is that a lot of developers are certifying their applications on the Java Desktop System, and there is a branding system around that,” Sasaki said. “We will be rolling this out on Java.com, and so already today there are applications there that have been run and tested on the JDS.”
Third Version on Way
Sasaki said the number of applications already certified for JDS is small so far, but that thousands of Java applications worked automatically and Sun is in the process of working with those developers to test them on its JDS.
Sun now boasts more than 21 OEM partners for its desktop alternatives, including companies such as Microtel Computer Systems Inc., which sells personal computers bundled with the Java Desktop System at Wal-Mart online; Sourcenext Corp., a leading Japanese computer products distributor; and Markement GmbH, a German partner.
Wal-Mart customers can choose from a number of Microtel configurations running the JDS at prices ranging from $298 to $698. The systems are available with an AMD or Intel processor running at 1.6GHz to 3.0 GHz. The Java Desktop System/Microtel PC is available at Wal-Marts Web site.
Rich Hindman, a vice president at Microtel, said that by offering the Java Desktop System with its PCs, it is delivering alternative products to a new class of desktop users.
Mark Johnston, president and CEO at Tadpole Computer Inc., said the Java Desktop System and Sun Ray technology allowed it to “offer our government customers in the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines, as well as enterprises, a tightly integrated and tuned environment that will lower costs, deliver mobility with security, and has the software and support breadth to scale to our customers mobile needs.”
Suns Sasaki also told eWEEK that a third version of the desktop system is planned for this fall and will include updates to the latest versions of GNOME, new versions of the browser and “lots of other things. There will also be a Solaris version of JDS this fall,” he said.