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Sun Readies Three Linux Desktop Offerings

Through the Looking Glass

  • February 2, 2004
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

Sun's upcoming 3D desktop environment, codenamed Project Looking Glass, drew lots of glances at LinuxWorld last month, largely because of advance demos by Computer Associates (CA). However, Sun is planning not just one, but three new offerings in the overall desktop space.

"We'll probably move Project Looking Glass into products over the next 12 to 18 months," predicted Peter Ulander, Sun's director of marketing for Desktop Solutions, during an interview. About three to six months from now, though, Sun expects to release the Java Desktop Environment (JDE) 2.

Meanwhile, somewhere between these other two time frames, Sun will ship the first Linux thin client software for its server-based Sun Ray technology.

JDE 2 will include a new edition of Sun's StarOffice productivity suite; a desktop environment based on Gnome; browser, e-mail, calendar, and instant messaging (IM) applications, and a Linux OS, Ulander noted.

StarOffice 7 will feature "professional grade" TrueType fonts (including fonts that are Microsoft-compatible); export to PDF, Flash, and Web conferencing formats; and advanced writing tools for Asian languages.

Sun Ray, on the other hand, is designed to provide a high degree of administrative control for organizations that feel this sort of a need.

For example, administrators can use Sun Ray to lock down certain browser features, for productivity's sake, or disable macros, for better security, Ulander illustrated.

"When environments such as call centers migrated off of legacy systems, a lot of productivty was lost. Some users starting spending a lot of time on the Web, checking out their stock porfolios or watching eBay to make sure they didn't lose that little knicknack they wanted," he contended.

Project Looking Glass, on the other hand, will be the first 3D desktop environment for Linux, according to Ulander.

"It's truly awesome. You can rotate things around in realtime on the desktop, flip them around and put notes on the back," he maintained.

The 3D capabilities in Looking Glass were first developed for Sun's Solaris OS. At LinuxWorld, CA demoed Looking Glass on the show floor, as well as in a keynote speech by Sam Greenblatt, CA's senior VP and chief architect.

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