May 28, 2004 11:28 AM PDT

Sun to upgrade Linux desktop software

Sun Microsystems plans to release on Tuesday the second version of its Java Desktop System, the server maker's version of Linux for desktop computers, augmenting the software with new management and programming tools.

The new version reproduces some features of Microsoft Windows, including an automated software update service and a utility that lets a manager control a system remotely, according to sources familiar with the product. It also will come with the first version of Sun's Configuration Manager, which lets an administrator control the privileges and settings of different groups of desktop users.

And as part of Sun's effort to entice programmers to its new software, the new JDS software will include the Java Studio and NetBeans developer tools.

Sun declined to comment for this story.

The Java Desktop System is one of several company efforts to expand into new territory to offset its declining server sales. Sun plans to announce the software at its Network Computing 04Q2 event in Shanghai, China.

Sun's JDS is based on Linux. However, the company plans to release a version based on its Solaris operating system in mid-2004, John Loiacono, executive vice president of Sun's software group, said in a recent interview.

And Sun still hopes its Java software will be the programming foundation of choice, spanning Windows, Linux and Solaris. Also on Tuesday, Sun is expected to announce a new programming tool collection for all those operating systems so that developers can write Java software for any type of desktop computer, sources said.

Companies purchase JDS by paying $100 per year for each employee in the company--regardless of how many actually use the software. The price drops to $50 per employee per year if a company also buys Sun's Java Enterprise System, a collection of server software; a half-price JDS promotion was planned through Wednesday but has been extended to the end of 2004, sources said.

Desktop Linux is becoming a more serious threat to Microsoft's Windows, which today ships on more than 90 percent of personal computers sold. Sun gave desktop Linux a major boost by making its Microsoft Office competitor, StarOffice, into an open-source project called OpenOffice.

Sun isn't the only one pushing desktop Linux. SuSE Linux, now owned by Novell, has been pushing the idea for years. Sun's product is based on SuSE's version, and No. 2 PC seller Hewlett-Packard signed a deal that lets it preinstall SuSE Linux on desktop machines. More recently, IBM has begun warming to desktop Linux; top Linux seller Red Hat has begun selling its own desktop Linux product; and Macromedia is releasing Linux support for its Flash file format.

Sun is expected to announce JDS support from software partners such as Borland Software, CodeWeavers, Linuxant, Tarantella and TransGaming Technologies.

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Star Office was opensource
This article is misleading in that it suggests that the almighty and opensource friendly SUN, through the goodness of its heart, gave Star Office freely to opensource. From how I remember it Star Office was purchased by SUN and was opensource before they purchased it. When they purchased it OpenOffice became the free version so that they would not be breaking any copyright issues to do with Open Source software. If I am wrong sorry but this is how I remember it.
Posted by (19 comments )
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You mis-remember, I think.
This time I think c-Net do actually have their facts straight.

As I remember it, StarDivision sold StarOffice as a wholely-proprietory product. When Sun bought them they started giving it away for free (beer).

Later they split out the bits they couldn't make Open Source (Abadas-DB belongs to Software AG, some of the fonts/clipart have copyright issues) to make a paid-for with-support StarOffice product and an Open Source core (OpenOffice.org).

This seems to be working as a strategy: both products have got rapidly better because the core is Open Source, and StarOffice has more credibility with business because it's no longer a suspiciously-free lunch - it's a major-vendor product when you pay money and get something in return.
Posted by duncangibb (7 comments )
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JDS for individual use
I think that Sun could speed up the acceptance of its JDS if it were to make it available at a very modest price for individual home users. This could build up some word of mouth excitement on the subject. It would also be useful in debugging the system and in getting a realistic return of users opinions as to ease of use.
Posted by firing (8 comments )
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