Sun, Canonical strengthen Ubuntu ties

Sun and Canonical, the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu Linux, have widened their existing partnership to include more of Sun's Java technology

Sun Microsystems and Canonical, the commercial sponsor of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, announced Thursday a further deepening of their existing partnership.

The companies are making a full Java technology stack and developer tools available immediately with the latest release of Ubuntu, version 7.04, also known as "Feisty Fawn," which debuted Thursday.

Last November, Sun pledged to make its open-source GlassFish application server and its core Java Platform Standard Edition software available on Ubuntu. Along with those technologies, the new Java stack will also include Sun's NetBeans integrated development environment and its Java DB, which is based on Apache's Derby open-source database.

"This is the first time the Java platform has been fully integrated into a Linux distribution to this extent," said Ian Murdock, Sun's chief operating systems officer and the founder of the Debian Linux distribution. "Our key goal here is to make Sun's Java technology more accessible to Linux developers." Murdock joined Sun in March.

"My hope that these [Java] packages will migrate into Debian and into other distributions," said Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu.

In November, Sun promised to open source its core Java technology under the GNU general public license version 2 (GPLv2). In all previous open sourcing of its software, Sun used its own open-source license CDDL (common development and distribution license). One reason for choosing GPL, according to Sun executives, was the hope that GNU/Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Debian would bundle Java into their operating systems and so take the development environment into new markets.

Sun already has several Java components available under GPL and hopes to have the rest out by the end of June. As those offerings are released under the GPL, Canonical will look into including those technologies in the core of Ubuntu, Shuttleworth said.

Sun expects to provide more details on how it will make its Java components suitable for inclusion in Ubuntu at its upcoming JavaOne conference due to take place May 8-11 in San Francisco.

Debuting in October 2004, Ubuntu is based on the Debian Linux distribution. Canonical updates Ubuntu every six months, with the next release, version 7.10, known as "Gutsy Gibbon" due out in October.

Ubuntu competes with other Linux distributions including those from Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc. Shuttleworth contrasted Canonical's partnership with Sun for its Java middleware versus Red Hat's approach, which has its own JBoss middleware. "We explicitly don't want to make our way up the application stack," he said. Instead, Canonical prefers to partner with third parties, work on integrating those offerings with its Linux distribution and then manage those integrations with its partners.

Canonical's Web site experienced some downtime Thursday due to the number of developers looking to download the new Ubuntu release, according to Shuttleworth. "We've been absolutely swamped," he said. "I hope the logjam won't last much longer." So far, about 65 percent of the Ubuntu downloads originated from North America and around 25 percent from Europe, according to Shuttleworth.

Shuttleworth said he was "thrilled" by the recent news that Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell, uses Ubuntu at home.

The details of the computers and software Dell uses can be seen on his executive biography on the company's Web site.

However, Shuttleworth cautioned against reading too much into Dell's preference for Ubuntu. He wouldn't comment on whether Canonical and the computer maker were in discussions about using the distribution on Dell's machines. The only time Shuttleworth met Michael Dell was on a Microsoft campus at a Microsoft event, he said. Given the venue, Shuttleworth didn't believe it was appropriate to ask the Dell head about his interest in Ubuntu.

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