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Sun to Expand Market for its Linux Variant

Posted by iNext - 2005-10-27

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, Sun's 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 Sun's 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.

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 Sun's 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.

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.

Loiacono also used the town hall meeting to announce that IBM would be supporting Solaris 10 on its BladeCenter platform going forward, while Computer Associates would be porting its Unicenter and Britestor products to Sun Microsystems' Solaris 10 on the x86 and 64-bit platforms.

Under the terms of the deal, CA's Unicenter NSM will provide increased support, such as load balancing and diagnostics, for Solaris 10 through its software partitioning Containers technology, he said.

The Unicenter AutoSys Job Management would also include support for scheduling applications running on the Solaris 10 x86 platforms, while CA's Unicenter Database Management Solutions for Oracle and DB2 UDB distributed databases running on Solaris 10 would provide database performance management and administration capabilities, he said.

Sun has also entered into evaluation for Common Criteria Certification for Solaris 10, and is going for Evaluation Assurance Level 4+, the highest globally recognized level of certification for any commercial operating system, Goguen said.

The Common Criteria testing for Solaris 10 is being conducted by CGI Information Systems and Management Consultants Inc. in Ottawa, Canada—the same company that did the testing for Solaris 9.

Solaris 10 will be tested on a range of systems, including SPARC, Sun Fire x86 servers powered by AMD Opteron processors.

Testing began this September and is expected to end sometime in 2006.

Goguen added that many of the features of Sun's Trusted Solaris 8 product had been moved into the base-level of Solaris 10 and had also met all of its binary compatible requirements.

"That base-level of Solaris is what is being certified. Trusted Solaris as a separate operating system release is going away, but we will have an add-on product that will be available next year, known as Trusted Extensions for Solaris 10, and it will bring the labeling capabilities to the Solaris 10 environment," he said.

The number of downloads of OpenSolaris, which was made available this June, while off its peak of a copy a second, was now stable at about 10,000 a day, Loiacono said, adding that this was the fastest and broadest adoption of the Solaris software in its history.

The number of ISVs that had adopted and supported Solaris 10 was significantly higher than for any other previous version upgrade of Solaris.

"We also now support 435 x86 and x64 systems with Solaris, which is more than Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 supports today," he said.

Sun had also already received 40 contributions from the community around OpenSolaris, which it made available in June, and 12 of these had already been integrated into the product.

"These will be visible in Solaris Express going forward, but they are mostly pretty much bug fixes," Goguen said.

Turning to its JES (Java Enterprise System), Loiacono said there are currently nearly 1 million subscribers to the product.

The fourth, and latest, version of JES had shipped last week and contained its entire middleware portfolio in one integrated suite.

This latest version is now supported on Solaris on Sparc, x86 and x64, on Linux, on HP-UX and Windows 2000, with support for Windows 2003 expected early next year.

It also contains a new service registry, support for UDDI, an access manager that allows single sign-on capabilities, as well as the Sun Cluster Geographic Edition.

This cluster product allows clusters to be linked anywhere around the world and lets one of these clusters of mission critical systems take over from another to which it is linked in a different geographic location in the event of a disaster.

"But the cluster solution is the one technology in the entire JES portfolio that is not available to all the operating systems as it is a kernel level technology, and is currently limited to Solaris on Sparc and x86 systems," Loiacono said.

Sun also remains committed to open-sourcing more of the components of the JES stack as soon as it is able to do so legally and with all the necessary rights in place, he said, adding that Sun has previously and is currently qualifying non-Sun x86 and x64 systems for Sun Cluster.

On the identity management front, Sun closed a number of big deals recently, and it continues to be a high-growth area for the company.

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