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Sun Shines on Complete Linux Desktop

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sun Microsystems is all over Linux, company executive vice president of software Jonathan Schwartz told an audience at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo Tuesday.

And to hear him tell it, Sun hopes to take a big chunk out of rival Microsoft's soft butt. In his keynote address, Schwartz said that the Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker has a "ruthless commitment" to Linux.

"We are more committed to open source than anyone on the planet," Schwartz reiterated over and over.

At the show, Sun previewed the latest version of StarOffice at the show, saying that more than 60 million copies of StarOffice and OpenOffice.org, its community-developed predecessor, are in circulation. Schwartz said the two suites had "unstoppable desktop momentum."

Schwartz promised Microsoft a world of hurt, then showed the keynote audience an alpha version of Project Mad Hatter, a complete Linux desktop environment that Sun hopes will replace Microsoft Office on personal computers and within mid-range and smaller businesses.

Schwartz said Project Mad Hatter would deliver "the moral equivalent" of each Windows desktop function at 80 to 90 percent the cost. The package includes an operating system as well as a GUI, browser, e-mail and IM apps, Java to replace .Net and basic productivity tools via StarOffice, which has already shipped. Sun said it aims to make Project Mad Hatter interoperable with Lotus Notes and Microsoft Office and Exchange.

Schwartz also said despite the company's investments in open source, Sun has no plans to ditch its Solaris operating system to follow Linux, because Linux runs best on Intel, while Solaris works better on mainframes. He said that Sun would maintain its commitment to evolve Solaris and Project Orion, an assembly of core components for network services.

To AIC users about to be abandoned by IBM, he said, "Welcome home. We'd love to host you."

The company maintained it will offer quarterly updates of Solaris and Project Orion to be delivered synchronously on Intel and 64-bit systems.

Sun also confirmed months of speculation Tuesday that it's teamed up with Sunnyvale, Calif.-based semiconductor maker AMD to provide native Java support for both Linux and Windows on AMD's 64-bit Opteron processor. The deal will let developers migrate their Java applications from the 32-bit to 64-bit platform with little or no change to the code.

The company said its Sun ONE Studio developer tools already run on Red Hat Linux and Solaris x86 and support full J2SE and J2EE development. Sun said it expects the Opteron port to be available with the release of its Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition (J2SE) v 1.5, due out in the summer of 2004. J2SE licensee Blackdown contributed to the development.

Schwartz said Sun has joined the Open Source Development Lab (OSDL), a global consortium of technology companies working to accelerate the adoption of Linux by giving engineering and technical assistance through data centers in Japan and the U.S. Other OSDL members include Computer Associates , Fujitsu, HP, IBM , Intel and NEC . Sun is one of the last major players to join the initiative, but says it will participate in the Carrier Grade Linux and Data Center Linux working groups that focus on the use of the Linux operating system in the enterprise and telecommunications environments.

Editor's note: See what else Jonathan Schwartz has to say about Sun and Linux in this exclusive Q&A.