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Ubuntu, Sun Get Closer on Linux

Sun and Ubuntu GNU/Linux are getting even closer.

Canonical, the commercial sponsor of the Ubuntu distribution and Sun are expanding their existing partnership to Sun's x86 hardware.

That means Sun will now certify Ubuntu and Canonical will support Ubutnu running on the Sun Fire X4100 and X4200 servers, as well as the Sun Ultra(TM) 20 and 40 Workstations. Back in May, Sun and Canonical certified Ubuntu on Sun's UltraSPARC Niagara servers the Sun Fire T1000 and T2000.

The certification, however, does not pertain to the most recent version of Ubuntu, code named "Edgy," which was released at the end of October.

Sun and Canonical are instead certifying the previous Ubuntu release, codenamed "Dapper" which Canonical had previously designated as a Long Term Support (LTS) version.

"In time I expect we'll certify on other releases," Jane Silber, COO of Canonical, told internetnews.com. "But right now because of the long term support of Dapper, that's the one that is most interesting for certification."

In addition to hardware certification, Sun's Project Glassfish will now find its way into Ubuntu as well. GlassFish is Sun's Java Enterprise Edition 5 application server. GlassFish is not currently in Ubuntu Edgy nor is it in Ubuntu's main software repositories.

Silber explained that GlassFish will initially be in Ubuntu's multi-verse repository of non-mainline packages. GlassFish is expected to go into release in April of 2007.

The partnership does not include Sun's sales channel reselling Ubuntu either.

"But we do work closely with them [on Sun sales]," Silber said. "We have participated in joint approaches to customers though people still buy support directly from us."

Other Sun open source technologies such as the NetBeans development suite are not currently part of the partnership. Though NetBeans can work on Ubuntu, it is not currently part of any official Ubuntu software repository.

Tom Marble, senior Java performance engineer for Sun Microsystems told internetnews.com that official NetBeans support for Ubuntu is something that Sun is working on very aggressively.

According to Silber, Canonical is not working on any kind of deal with Microsoft for patent licensing, unlike Novell, which recently struck a deal with Microsoft that provides Novell some patent protection for alleged Microsoft intellectual property that may be included in Linux distributions.

"I don't think people really know the terms of the deal yet between Microsoft and Novell and I see no reason why we need to have that sort of discussion with them at this time," Silber said.

Ubuntu's relationship with Debian on the other hand remains strong. Ubuntu is derived from Debian which itself is gearing up for a release codenamed "Etch" later this year.

"Debian is very important and I don't think the importance of our relationship with Debian has diminished at all," Silber said. " I think that it's the foundation that we build on and we have no plan or desire to increase any distance there."

Sun has a relationship with Debian as well, though unlike HP Sun does not support Debian directly. In August of this year, HP announced that it would be providing commercial support for Debian.

"Our collaboration with Debian is important but as we go to market and talk about enterprise level support , Canonical is the vehicle with which we can get enteprise class support for this kind of distribution," Sun's Tom Marble said.

"Debian as an organization is really not organized to deliver the kind of support that Canonical is able to deliver."