April 24, 2001 7:10 PM PDT

Sun to open "expanded Web" with Jxta

Sun Microsystems will release new software Wednesday that it claims can help Web users tap into computing devices and services that today's Internet doesn't accommodate.

Sun has chosen the slogan "find it, get it, use it" to describe the software, called "Jxta" and pronounced "juxta". Sun said Jxta will let people tap into an "expanded Web" that extends beyond today's Internet, according to a source familiar with the initiative, which will be announced Wednesday.

The description indicates the presence of the InfraSearch software Sun acquired in March to bolster the Jxta effort. InfraSearch, based on the Gnutella software, enables searches across interconnected computers lacking a central index.

Sun wants Jxta, unveiled in February by inventor Bill Joy, to power a new generation of services on the Internet. Jxta would provide a foundation for running programs across a host of "peers"--potentially every sort of computing device from desktops to tiny cell phones to mammoth servers.

Jxta will allow services to be run across this distributed network of devices. Joy said in February it would likely be incorporated into its grand "Sun One" software strategy, a program that competes with the .Net vision of Sun's perpetual foe, Microsoft.

Jxta is the latest in a long line of Sun projects designed to reduce operating systems such as Windows to mere cogs while people write software that works at a higher level.


Gartner analysts Daryl Plummer and David Smith say that until Sun presents a clearer view of this new open-source peer-to-peer software, Jxta will likely remain nothing more than another piece of interesting Sun technology.

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Sun unveiled Jxta at a conference about "peer-to-peer" technology that joins computers without reliance on a central server. However, Sun conspicuously avoids mentioning the once-hyped buzzword in its news release.

Napster, the beleaguered company that helps people swap digital music MP3 files, is the best-known peer-to-peer outfit, and its popularity has sparked a host of start-ups hoping to capitalize on the concept.

Sun will release the software Wednesday under a license similar to that which governs the open-source Apache Web-server software--after Linux probably the most famous open-source effort--Sun said. The license allows companies to extend the software with their own proprietary additions, something not possible with the Linux operating system.

Sun has selected CollabNet to host the free-to-all, collective Jxta programming effort. CollabNet already hosts Sun's open-source Star Office suite of software that competes with Microsoft Office.

Sun has rounded up the support of Brian Behlendorf, one of the founders of Apache as well as CollabNet's chief technology officer. CollabNet will help Sun build an open-source programming community around the software, Behlendorf is expected to announce Wednesday.

Jxta currently is based on Sun's Java software, which theoretically enables a program to run on any computing device without having to be rewritten for each one. However, the company is working on a version in the C programming language, Sun will announce Wednesday.

Sun didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the software.

 

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