August 5, 2003 2:04 PM PDT

Sun's SuSE deal includes desktop Linux

SAN FRANCISCO--Sun Microsystems announced a deal to use SuSE's version of Linux on its servers last week, but a Sun executive said Tuesday that the partnership encompasses desktop computers as well.

Sun will use SuSE's version of Linux as part of its "Mad Hatter" project to outfit businesses with low-cost desktop PCs that can be easily configured by information technology administrators, said John Fowler, Sun's software chief technology officer, in an interview at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo. Mad Hatter, expected to be unveiled in September at the SunNetwork conference, will be an amalgam of SuSE and Sun software that likely will sport only Sun's brand name, Fowler said.

"We're working with SuSE to do some joint development work," Fowler said. "Whether we call it a branded SuSE distribution is another question. We're not necessarily going to call it SuSE."

When discussing the new Sun-SuSE partnership last week, the companies didn't comment on their desktop plans. On Tuesday, though, SuSE spokesman Joe Eckert confirmed the relationship. "We're working with Sun (on) Mad Hatter," he said.

SuSE can use all the partnerships it can get in its effort to compete not only with Microsoft but also with its Linux rival Red Hat, the dominant seller of Linux. That's despite the fact that Sun, IBM and Hewlett-Packard have all maintained SuSE ties, making Dell the only one of the top four server makers choosing a partnership only with Red Hat.

Sun had its own version of Linux but is canceling it in favor of partnerships with Red Hat and SuSE. Sun made the move because those versions of Linux are certified to work with various other software packages, and corporate customers often require such certification and support.


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