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LinuxWorld Expo New Haven for Corporate Users, Vendors - page 3

The New Breed of Expo Attendee

  • January 26, 2003
  • By Brian Proffitt

I had a lot of off-the-record conversations during this event. These are bittersweet for a reporter, because you're getting good stuff, but you're obligated not to share it. Ultimately, its a sign of trust from your sources, and in the long-term, keeping that trust usually gets you a better story.

Sun Microsystems, when they showned me their new desktop, made me sign an NDA. Make what you will out of that.

I'll still honor the NDA and keep my mouth shut, except to say that what I did see in the look-but-don't-touch demo was very sharp and responsive. Is it going to be the latest and greatest? We'll see--I'm still waiting for Ximian to get GNOME 2.0 on their Desktop product.

Ximian's products will have an important part to play in the Sun Linux offering, information that has already been announced. I think that's a good team up, frankly, because Ximian lends some good cred to Sun.

I spoke with Curtis Sasaki, VP of Desktop Software Engineering, about the new Sun Linux product, which is due to come out in early June, if all goes to plan. The first question was the obvious: why the move to a Linux desktop product?

Sasaki emphasized that it was customer demand driving this entry into desktop Linux. "If there was no customer interest, we wouldn't be doing this."

A lot of factors led up to this meeting of customer's demands. The "dot-bomb" crash in the late 90s, coupled by the more recent move by Microsoft to implement the Software Assurance licensing plan, all led many of Sun's customers to inquire about what they had for Linux beyond the StarOffice suite.

"We saw the trend," Sasaki said, "and we saw how commercially ready the applications were." Which was when Sun decided to make their move.

Sun Linux is about ready to go now, but there are a lot of supporting issues, such as training and service programs that need to be set up, Sasaki explained. Sun is also working hard to optimize their Java on Linux.

"When we ship, you won't notice the difference between a Java app and a Linux app [on Sun Linux]," he said.

Right now Sun Linux is getting ready to be released on the Sun Ray thin client and the x86 thin-client, according to Sasaki. When asked if these were all the platforms they were planning to release Sun Linux, he enigmatically replied:

"There's no reason why it won't run on a notebook."

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