Sun broadens Linux backing

Sun Microsystems will adopt commonly known Linux distributions for deployment on a range of Intel-based systems it is planning and will no longer offer its Sun Linux distribution.

The company soon will have arrangements with two or three of the top Linux distributors, said John Loiacono, Sun vice president of operating systems, during a Sun briefing in San Francisco on Friday. He would not name the vendors, but Sun officials during the briefing acknowledged Red Hat Inc. and SuSE Linux AG as leading Linux vendors.

"There will not be Sun Linux as you know it, meaning taking the standard distribution and modifying it," Loiacono said.

Sun also will expand its x86-based hardware arsenal for running Linux. Sun now offers its x86-based LX50 server, which runs Linux or Sun's own Solaris OS. "We will have a portfolio of x86 hardware," said Loiacono.

Also at the briefing, Sun's Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president of software, hailed Sun's upcoming Project Orion as a way to "sling an arrow through the heart of complexity."

Project Orion is intended to provide for a single package featuring Solaris as well as other Sun products such as the Sun ONE application, directory and Web and portal servers. Orion, which ships later this year, also will be delivered on Linux.

Sun also plans to integrate Orion-based application with the J2ME (Java 2 Platform Micro Edition) platform, which covers consumer systems ranging from smart cards and pagers to set-top boxes, according to Sun.

Also, Schwartz called Microsoft Corp.'s Smartphone strategy "an abysmal failure," while praising Java on phones. "We think the success of Java on the handset is going to continue," he said.

Schwartz, acknowledging Sun's election this week to the board of the directors of the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I), pledged that Sun would be the first to market with a WS-I Basic Profile based on J2EE. The WSI Basic Profile is intended to provide an industry profile for building Web services using SOAP, WSDL and UDDI.

Schwartz said IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. are essentially abandoning Unix, especially on 32-bit systems, and this presents a consolidation opportunity for Sun.

Sun's Mark Bauhaus, vice president of Sun One Java Web services, meanwhile, said the company with its new certification program for open source Java developers has extended an opportunity to JBoss to certify its Java application server as J2EE-compliant. "We’ve offered JBoss the opportunity to make sure their implementation is fully compatible. The ball is in their court," Bauhaus said.

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