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Sun, others push for Linux on the desktop

Posted: 08 Aug 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:sun microsystems? microsoft windows? linux? desktop pc?

Sun Microsystems Inc. joined a band of smaller companies in making fresh assaults on Microsoft's Windows monopoly, attempting to drive Linux onto the Windows. Since its inception, developers have tried, so far unsuccessfully to make Linux a commercial success as an alternative PC operating system (OS).

Sun gave the first public demo of an alpha version of its Mad Hatter software platform at the LinuxWorld conference here and claimed it would announce pricing and availability of the code in mid-September. Separately, a number of small companies including Xandros Corp. and CodeWeavers Inc. showed the latest versions of their Linux-based desktop software.

"The skepticism around Linux desktops is starting to disappear," said Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president of Sun's software group.

Schwartz showed Mad Hatter, a collection of applications and tools including a Mozilla browser, e-mail, instant messaging, and a new version of Sun's StarOffice applications on a Windows-like desktop. The software runs both on Linux and Sun's Solaris.

Separately, Xandros, founded by a group of former Corel engineers, gave away hundreds of copies of its Linux-based desktop environment. The OS, which has been available since last October, is being bundled by some PC makers in South America, said a company spokesman.

"I think the Linux desktop is here, and it's largely a function of marketing it now," said Jeremy White, chief executive of CodeWeavers which sells Linux office applications and services.

The company helped Disney migrate many of its desktops to Linux this year, a project that involved helping port Adobe Photoshop to Linux, he added.

In a separate presentation, Jon "Mad Dog" Hall, executive director of Linux International, predicted Linux desktops would finally take hold in the next twelve months. The OS has already gained a significant foothold in small and large servers and some embedded systems, he said.

"When I first met Linus Torvalds [the developer of Linux] in 1994, I asked him what was his goal in developing Linux, and he said he wanted a nice little desktop environment. Actually the software has been used in very many places but the last one has been the desktop," Hall said.

"Now most of the applications and tools people need, especially for Linux on thin clients and mainstream business desktops are here. But the home market is a different subject. The support is just not there," he added.

White of CodeWeavers noted that more than 6,000 Linux applications are now available but popular consumer titles such as games, income tax and personal budgeting software are missing from the list.

- Rick Merritt

EE Times

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