Home > Oracle and SUN > Sun’s Linux Desktop Off to Flying Start Sun’s Linux Desktop Off to Flying Start Submitted by tarpon 2003-11-14 Oracle and SUN 42 Comments Some say Sun Microsystems should give up on its Linux desktop ambitions, but there are serious signs of life that indicate the company may be on to a good thing, The Register has learned. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 42 Comments 2003-11-14 2:58 am Sun just may have what it takes to finally make that big Linux push. 2003-11-14 3:29 am Sun has traditionally been strong in the enterprise/corporate market. The shift here could mean it is going after the consumer market. If implemented correctly, this is very good for non technical consumer that requires an easy to use and “hand holding” system. However the consumer market is different from corporate and Sun better make sure it can fulfill that needs such as mp3 playback, video playback, games etc 2003-11-14 3:37 am i wish Sun good luck with their Linux desktop… 2003-11-14 3:47 am Sun is getting apps ported to linux (ie/RealONE) 2003-11-14 3:53 am RealOne has been ported to Linux for a while now. I’m sure I’ve been using for more than 8 months now, if I’m not mistaken 2003-11-14 3:57 am Are you sure? I know that theres Real Player 8 but not RealOne. 2003-11-14 4:38 am So, they are going to rent applications and storage space… If that is the strategy, why not go back to dumb terminals? Why screw with a distro? With application renting, monthly fee, a true PC is no longer needed since the apps will run at another location. Not only will they know what you do, but they will control your personal files besides. Bad plan if you ask me. 2003-11-14 4:55 am Sun has traditionally been strong in the enterprise/corporate market. The shift here could mean it is going after the consumer market. The Java Enterprise Desktop System is the desktop portion of the Java Enterprise System, which is a complete client/server package. It seems unlikely that Sun would ever consider competing against Microsoft in the realm of home consumers. 2003-11-14 4:59 am If that is the strategy, why not go back to dumb terminals? The problem is Sunrays end up costing the same, if not more, than a complete desktop computer system, due to the low manufacturing volume. Sun certainly hasn’t stopped supporting Sunray, but I think complete systems will be easier to pitch to clients… That said, Sunray networks are wonderful. The ability to seamlessly transfer your session between terminals and the fact that your session is always available can completely change the dynamics of office environments. Unfortunately, most companies are not ready for as radical of a change as a Sunray environment compells, and consequently Sunray sales have been relatively low. That said, it would be nice if Sun could put together a $X/employee/year package for Sunray networks as well. 2003-11-14 5:09 am I don’t know what to say because they are doing a lot of talking to business partners but not saying much to the press. 2003-11-14 6:19 am RealOne has definately been out for Linux for a while. I don’t use it for anything really, but it’s nice just to have it on the system and it behaves fairly nicely. 2003-11-14 6:38 am They have a big market out there and they have the name to sell it and a decent product. However, from what I’ve seen of both, very little in a nutshell, Xandros 2 seems even more cabable as a desktop. 2003-11-14 7:00 am They should merge with NOVELL 2003-11-14 7:50 am I think it’s interesting to see that SUN was more or less forced to jump on the Linux train because of the huge linux hype bringing the community forward. However, as hypes are, at some stage they disappear and we’ll get back the SUN we know… innovative, supreme power, classy stuff… interestingly enough, Linux seem to be the *Nix gateway. Many have switched to try Linux the last couple of years, as a consequence many has fled from Linux into better systems such as Solaris, BSD, OSX. Who could have thought that Linux job was just to give acceptance ot other Nixes? 2003-11-14 8:30 am Are they discussing MadHatter? Why they pulled off all the screenshots of MadHatter in Sun’s website? I want to see some screenshots!!! 2003-11-14 8:52 am RE: They should merge with NOVELL This remark is in my opinion one that is completely possible. Or did nobody else at his eye browse going up when they discovered that SUN build its java desktop on SUSE? I found it at unexpected move, untill the news that NOVELL would buy SUSE. That and the close relationship SUN has with Ximian (also NOVELL now) for the Gnome desktop. I think something is going to happen in a short time. 2003-11-14 9:57 am I don’t know if something’s going to happen, but it ought to. The synergies are just unbelievable here. Sun’s corporate desktop strategy needs exactly what Novell has with eDirectory, ZENworks/Redcarpet and iPrint+iFolder! Plus, Novell now owns SuSE, around hich Sun’s Linux desktop is built. Novell could, on the other hand, improve and streamline their already excellent channel, with Sun’s help.They could also finally have a hardware maker that is dedicated and dependable. Also, Novell could streamline it’s powerful but large services infrastructure (magnified enormeously by the purchase of Cambridge, a couple of years ago). 2003-11-14 12:45 pm Sun and IBM are big iron competitors and IBM just infused a wad of cash into Novell’s coffers to keep them going. I would expect IBM to buy Novell before Novell buys anyone. 2003-11-14 1:09 pm I think actually IBM would welcome the move, it gains a partner and drops a competitor, then all thats left really is HP Just a thought but the move would be bad anyhow cuz it will make Novell too damned big 2003-11-14 1:12 pm “If that is the strategy, why not go back to dumb terminals?” The problem is Sunrays end up costing the same, if not more, than a complete desktop computer system, due to the low manufacturing volume. Sun certainly hasn’t stopped supporting Sunray, but I think complete systems will be easier to pitch to clients… I wouldn’t say that is completely true, however, one doesn’t really see any tangible benefits until they get into realms of 1000s of employees. A few hundred hanging off a SUN big iron isn’t going to experience any savings of any noticeable/measurable size within the typical 3-4year cycle. That said, Sunray networks are wonderful. The ability to seamlessly transfer your session between terminals and the fact that your session is always available can completely change the dynamics of office environments. Unfortunately, most companies are not ready for as radical of a change as a Sunray environment compels, and consequently Sunray sales have been relatively low. That said, it would be nice if Sun could put together a $X/employee/year package for Sunray networks as well. IIRC, they’re already covered, however, the problem isn’t that the idea isn’t popular but the fact that they don’t push it as hard as they should. For example, the NZ Army had a thin client contract up, I had a scoot through the tenders, where was SUN Microsystems? The software used by the NZ Army is hardly earth shattering, Office + Outlook + Web-browser to view Intranet ASP server + SAP for the back end. SUN could have easily won the contract, too bad they don’t have the mongrel in them to take on others when contracts are up for grabs. SUN need sales people will balls the size of watermelons and willing to kick down doors, negotiate and win contracts at all costs. There is no use being casper the friendly ghost. Microsoft certainly doesn’t win contracts my being nice, they win them by grinding down competition and negotiate hard. SUN Microsystems need to stop standing back, get a decent marketing company, Saatchi and Saatchi come to mind, that get their name out there. Get their names associated with “Quality”, “Realiability” and “Value for money”. The need to start listing up companies who are IBM and Microsoft customers, look at what they want and target them. By hell or high water, the aim should be to drag these companies kicking and screaming to SUN solutions. Again, standing back and doing a DEC isn’t going to win customers. Good marketing and a strong sales team is what is required. 2003-11-14 1:57 pm You have a very valid point. They contacted us as we are one of their customers and demoed their Linux desktop thing. Ok we know the price ..Great 100 euros per machine We know it has StarOffice and opens most of the Office files. But they did not push it as they should have. The comment from my boss (IT Head of Purchasing)was “Nice but I remain to be convinced…” Why they did not push it more? why they did not offered us to keep some CDs for trial it? Why they did not says something like? “allright we put a server over there linked to 10-20 clients of your choice and you give the thing a go for a month or two” No they haven’t said anything all, just a basic “oh by the way, we’ve got that and it’s cheap..” If they want that thing to fly off the shelves they’re going to have to push it more, far more than that. 2003-11-14 2:24 pm There has been lots of activity going on in the Linux world which I view entirely as positive. I’m a Red Hat user, and yes it would have been nice to receive continuted support from them in the desktop market, but what can you expect. The OSS model is wonderful, but company’s by definition must make money. With the recent buyout of Ximian and Suse by Novell, we’re finally seeing large companies get more involved in Linux aside from just funding. The same is true with Sun. I have a few problems with Sun since they’ve badmouthed Linux quite a bit, but this is a step in the right direction. With so many companies, goverments, and militaries migrating to the penguin, it might not take more than five years before we see a mass move to Linux on the desktop. Until then, I’ll keep doing my bit and continue switching all my Windows using friends. 2003-11-14 2:33 pm I think it’s interesting to see that SUN was more or less forced to jump on the Linux train because of the huge linux hype bringing the community forward. However, as hypes are, at some stage they disappear and we’ll get back the SUN we know… innovative, supreme power, classy stuff… interestingly enough, Linux seem to be the *Nix gateway. Many have switched to try Linux the last couple of years, as a consequence many has fled from Linux into better systems such as Solaris, BSD, OSX. Who could have thought that Linux job was just to give acceptance ot other Nixes? I don’t think so. Linux has been taking away more from UNIX than Microsoft marketshare. People seem to be switching from UNIX to Linux, not the other way around. Eventually AIX and Solaris will be no more. They will be replaced by vendor specific versions of Linux. 2003-11-14 2:36 pm I have a few problems with Sun since they’ve badmouthed Linux quite a bit, but this is a step in the right direction. Well, the RedHat CEO has badmouthed Linux much more, saying it’s not ready for the desktop. Sun seems very supportive, in comparison. And don’t you even dare saying that “that wasn’t badmouthing, it was the truth” or I’ll laugh too hard. 2003-11-14 2:37 pm i must say that i was convinced that-in the long run-sun is doomed. but it seems their desktop will become a huge success, and if they would really team up with ibm and hp… who would’ve thought that sun might be rescued by selling desktop-software! it also might help them to sell their sparc-servers (which seemed to have been the primary motivation to introduce the jd). i also heard that they might coorporate tighter with fujitsu-siemens developing new sparc-processors (and servers?), so that also would reduce costs and might lower retail prices of their servers as well as maybe better performance. hm, with its stock currently bombed-out and a lot of cash at hand, i now even seriously think about buying some shares…! 2003-11-14 2:52 pm I will stay with Windows on my desktops and UnixWare on my servers. Neither Linux or SUN offer me any kind of benefit to switching my infrastructure. The only thing that may get me to switch off UnixWare will probably be Windows 2003 Server. 2003-11-14 3:08 pm You have a very valid point. They contacted us as we are one of their customers and demoed their Linux desktop thing. Ok we know the price ..Great 100 euros per machine We know it has StarOffice and opens most of the Office files. But they did not push it as they should have. The comment from my boss (IT Head of Purchasing)was “Nice but I remain to be convinced…” Ok, I’ll give you how I would have approached the sale. I am more the “hands on” approach”. Firstly I would have sat down and found out what the requirements were. Are there any custom applications that need moving? do any of the employees need re-training? do any of the IT staff need re-training? and basically just listen. Too many sales people talk, talk and talk and NEVER listen. I would then, as you suggested, set up a implementation with a couple of people from each area interacting with it, as they’re testing it out, get feedback from the customer over their experience and what they would like improved or changed, then I would look to see whether those changes are possible and if the source code is available, I maybe able to implement it myself. After trying it for around 6months, I would then go and follow it up. If the IT person says, “well yes, it looks great, however, Microsoft is around the same price”, I would then offer a package offering 1/2 price subscription for the first year, free re-training for employees and well as IT staff. I would be quite happy to train the employees via night classes 2 hours once a week covering the transition from one office package to another. Yes, that does sound I am giving free retraining at the loss of my own freetime, however IMHO, as an employee of SUN, you should be passionate about your job and be proud about what your accomplish. I have worked in organisations and it seems that there are always people who just do enough not to get fired but no more. Imagine if EVERY employee at sales person at SUN put 120% into the job rather than simply sitting back and saying, “oh well, since that is would require me making time for the customer and that I am not being paid, screw it!”. The last place I worked, at an ISP, I used to work 2 hours extra a day sorting out customers problems, fixing hardware in my own time, talking to potential customers in my own time and yes, I bought a large number of customers to this ISP. I did a better job bringing customers than the supposed sales wing which spent more time chatting than actually listening to what the customer required. All of this outside what I was paid for. Sure, I didn’t get paid, however, I have however built up good relationships with customers who potentially could be useful once I get into business again as well as that, I am sure most people here know the feeling when they achieve something. 2003-11-14 6:34 pm the message to unix vendors nowadays seems to be go linux or die. out of all of them, i would say sun is the one being dragged along kicking and screaming. linux has been ready as a workstation os for years now, if sun manages to integrate that into their offering, more power to them. they will eventually be forced to dump solaris, which will be a day of much celebration, since the solaris guys would most likely move into linux dev. solaris has alot of nifty optimizations that would be very cool in linux. 2003-11-14 6:53 pm I don’t think so. Linux has been taking away more from UNIX than Microsoft marketshare. People seem to be switching from UNIX to Linux, not the other way around. Eventually AIX and Solaris will be no more. They will be replaced by vendor specific versions of Linux. Mostly you are correct, I think. But AIX is going out “voluntarily” as IBM shifts away from it. Solaris on the other hand will IMO fight on for a good piece yet. I use Linux for everything (though thinking of switching to BSD 🙂 ). But my experience is that Solaris on the SPARC is untouchable at this point – you have to cluster *lots* of i386 Linux boxes to get the throughput of 1 four-way UltraSPARC. My 0.02 is that the predicted death of Sun’s Solaris business is very premature. It will shrink, but not go away at any foreseeable point. The other *nixes though are either voluntarily going out, or will only have niche markets (such as HPUX in Medical apps) IMO. 2003-11-14 7:24 pm One of the things that is apparently not clear to everyone is this whole thing with Linux is just *NIX wars part two. The winners out of all this is going to be *NIXes regardless of strip. The my kernel is better than your kernel is a never ending battle, as it should be. This is how I see it. Wether you have a Sun Solaris kernel or a Linux RH enterprise kernel it is all mostly the same. Sun is clearly angling for this to be user the choice and it is a pretty good bet that Solaris’ kernel will be in there swinging. Compare Solaris’ price on Intel with RH Enterprise. Did you notice how people came out of the woodwork on the fedora lists about stability and long term support? It is no fun that just when you get your app deployed and the OS vendor drops the underlying OS support. … writing to java makes more sense every day that goes by. Sorry couldn’t help myself. tb 2003-11-15 1:36 am they will eventually be forced to dump solaris, which will be a day of much celebration, since the solaris guys would most likely move into linux dev. solaris has alot of nifty optimizations that would be very cool in linux. Why would they be forced to drop Solaris, which is CHEAPER than the commercially available UNIX’s out there? Sure, Linux is a great corporate desktop alternative, but for use on a big iron? heck, even IBM doesn’t trust it, hence, there are multi-ple instances running under a VM when running it on their mainframe and as for their Power4, why on gods green earth would you use Linux when there is a superior UNIX on offer; AIX, which scales BETTER and performs BETTER than Linux. 2003-11-15 1:39 am Why does a very sad teenage male insist on posting under the persona of a female who constantly rants on about how much everything that isn’t Microsoft sucks. We have ABMs (Anything but Microsoft) and now we have people like you, NBM (Nothing But Microsoft). 2003-11-15 5:10 am Linux, *is* the gateway drug of nix. I am hooked on SOL9/SPARC, RH9/X86, OSX/PPC and OBSD/X86… been “experimenting” with others for over a decade. =) 2003-11-15 5:03 pm This will not save SUN from the disaster that looms on the horizon for them if they do not try and get smart about their business soon. both Suse and Redhat have awsome desktops and apps add a cheap sub $500 pc from dell and you have bascially the same thing. 2003-11-16 3:43 am What the heck are you talking about? Sun’s desktop is based on SuSE Linux. And it is supposed to run on that cheap sub $500 pc from Dell. Sun just offers a complete package with applications, a development environment and support. 2003-11-16 5:44 am I’m not sure I completely understand. Why would Sun use Linux for their Java Desktop System instead of Solaris? What does Linux have that Solaris does not? Is it just a maturity issue with regards to Intel support? John 2003-11-16 10:40 am This has been answered before: because they don’t want to develop all the necessary drivers for the random hardware that exists on all those random PCs. This desktop environment is supposed to be installed on nearly any corporate desktop computer out there. 2003-11-16 12:35 pm So not only are you making stupid decisions in Iraq but you’re making stupid remarks on this forum. Mate, I’ve got to hand it to you, you’re on a roll. 2003-11-16 1:05 pm Moderators, please remove politically charged comments. 2003-11-16 2:05 pm What does that have to do with anything? At least i support something i believe in! instead of sitting around on my ass drinking tea and eating scones bitching about everything. I don’t see anyone else(with the exption of our allies) looking out for the interests of the free world. @Mario I agree politics outside of the IT industry do not belong here. So SUN has a Linux distro now who cares! my point is that if i want nearly the same thing i can can pay for redhat or Suse. Either way like i said this will not save SUN from an untimely demise 2003-11-16 3:28 pm Sun stepped in a nieche market before even knowing it will become a nieche. IBM and RedHat want to burn the soil before retreating from there, but they might just make Sun the only game in town, for desktop Linux. Sure, you can still get desktop Linux from SuSE or Lindows, and they would be great options, but they are not the same thing Sun offers: Sun has the enterprise desktop firmly in it’s crosshairs, and it’s services and support model, together with the applications and the RAD (with J2EE) – and let’s not forget Sun’s experience in server-provided applications, well, all this makes Sun’s offer a very particular and attractive one, and that’s why this thread has been started: because Sun apåparently is having success with their offer. If I was a home user, I would maybe consider SuSE, and if I was a bit more less into computers than I am, I would consider Lindows. But if I was a corporate decision-maker, I would chose Sun’s solution, because it’s much more than just desktop Linux. 2003-11-16 3:55 pm Solaris 10 promises greater binary compatibilty with Linux applications. Would this spill over to more driver support? There might be a subtle difference (applications vs. drivers) that I’m not aware of. Just trying to wrap my mind around all this stuff.