Home > Oracle and SUN > What’s so Java about Sun’s Linux desktop? What’s so Java about Sun’s Linux desktop? Eugenia Loli 2004-10-07 Oracle and SUN 27 Comments Sam Hiser is taking a look at Sun’s Java Desktop System, from the Enterprise and Java point of view. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 27 Comments 2004-10-07 7:43 pm I guess that we just don’t have many Sun worshipers any more. Novell is offering more opportunities for independant software makers and small business to market their solutions against Novells assembly line. 2004-10-07 7:44 pm Are they providing updates, as their version of Gaim is probably 8 months old, and likely doesn’t work with yahoo and possibly msn as well. I suppose it’s unimportant, but hey they should still update it. 2004-10-07 8:28 pm That’s the first positive review of JDS I’ve read. I thought there must be more to it than a small selection of fairly old packages. Kudos to Sun for trying something different. The article’s pretty good, though it wanders OT towards the end and turns into a rant against OSS nazis. It’s always nice to see that old caricature dragged up… “It’s surprising and disappointing that all corners of the open source or Free Software community cannot equally back…” Come on, all corners of the FOSS community couldn’t equally back the notion that the world is round! I’m sure some people like JDS, most are non-plused by it and a few are very vocal about disliking it. Nothing surprising about that. 2004-10-07 9:19 pm Funny how just when Sun is being accused of attacking open source (represented by RedHat) we get this article stressing how good JDS is and how much Sun is doing for OSS. Not that I mind but one paragraph did get to me : “Linux lacked media players and PDF readers for a long time, and as Macromedia Flash became a common element embedded in web pages, Linux users were relegated to second-class citizenship [..] JDS finally addresses all of these limitations” The available distributions solved these problems quite well on their own thanks, at least as well if not better than on the version of JDS I tried (the livecd). To top it off at the end a little hint of a Sun FUD compaign : “Protection from liabilities associated with the development of the software […] Software derived from an open source community may or may not meet these requirements” Like for the OO.o users presumably. 2004-10-07 9:32 pm > What’s so Java about Sun’s Linux desktop? > by Sam Hiser, coauthor of Exploring the JDS Linux Desktop No wonder it is positive about JDS. 2004-10-07 9:32 pm I wish the author had reviewed the damn thing instead of criticising critics for 50 lines. 2004-10-07 10:09 pm “…Debian, and others, which have the very latest Linux kernel…” “…JDS, being built upon older, more stable components…” So this would be a 2.0 Kernel then? 2004-10-07 10:17 pm “Funny how just when Sun is being accused of attacking open source (represented by RedHat) we get this article stressing how good JDS is and how much Sun is doing for OSS.” But Sun isn’t attacking OSS. They are attacking Red Hat specifically. Not because Red Hat is a Linux vendor. But because Red Hat is a publically traded commercial company who is in it for the money just like Sun is. It’s just business competition. Nothing more than that. 2004-10-07 10:56 pm A whole article filled with pure marketing speech trying to distract the reader from the fact that JDS is nothing more than SUSE Linux with only GNOME and some shiny new graphic themes… 2004-10-07 11:48 pm First off, its never explained how folks in the “Free software movement” railing on the Java Desktop (in forums like this I suppose) makes any difference. Also, he lists it running Adobe Acrobat 5. I used to work at a campus help desk, I can imagine the call “When I open PDFs I get an error saying my version of Acrobat isn’t new enough and I may need to upgrade” (an error that I believe exists when opening newer PDF files). It is true that enterprise doesn’t value the newest stuff, but for instance at my University (not enterprise, but close) we would update everything once a year. So everything would stay pretty new. And while he hails Sun as bringing enterprise to Linux… its not like that is new. Novell, on the other hand, is a name people trust, is pushing Linux and is actually innovating. 2004-10-08 12:15 am Actually, JDS is not just a pretty environment on top of SUSE Linux — Solaris 10 has integrated the JDS environment too and quite nicely at that. 2004-10-08 12:20 am I guess old McNeally hates Red Hat because it led the commercial charge that inadvertantly is destroying Unix. McNeally better get over it because damaging Red Hat won’t do a thing to stop the destruction of Unix, it will just hasten the further demise of Sun. It makes you wonder who is on the board at Sun that thinks McNeally should be in charge. 2004-10-08 12:49 am http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=sunjds according to this data Sun’s Linux distro is starting to become a little dated, time for Sun to make a new release with current packages or throw in the towel, Linux moves faster than that… 2004-10-08 12:56 am Well, I do think that if the board of directors at Sun can’t turn things around pretty soon, we will start seeing a lot of them being replaced. After all, the mismanagement that is going on at the company right now is amazing. Sun seems content on continuing to go down a path that is leading them towards destruction. They still think that proprietary UNIX can compete with an open standard. Whether Sun can actually make the changes necessary to become competitive again remains to be seen. But I don’t think it can do it under the leadership of the current CEO. 2004-10-08 1:29 am It’s the first positive review of JDS I’ve seen, and the first to call it integrated (I’ve seen a JDS and it’s anything but). However, it is quite obvious Sam Hiser is just pro-JDS for reasons already pointed out. I also find it funny that this article effectively seems to seek community approval for the JDS. If it’s a desktop for enterprises, why bother? But such critics are consistently out of touch with enterprise software demands, often unable to see the necessity or the value proposition to large organizations of completeness and integration over currency. Never underestimate the latest wizz bang features in selling – enterprises always go for them, especially when buying new equipment and software. Enterprises use old stuff until it breaks down (probably where the above idea comes from), but when it comes to the new stuff, they really want the new stuff. If they don’t get it they feel they’ve been ripped off. This is an extremely bad misinterpretation of how enterprises buy new kit, and it will cost them to the competition if they try and put JDS into office productivity environments. It is Sun who is out of touch here. It’s important also to note that JDS will be available by the end of 2004 to run on Solaris workstations and on the Sun Ray thin-client system, as well as Linux. “We can give you a choice of Solaris or Linux sir.” “What’s the difference?” “Errr…” “Well how the bloody hell should I know then?” If Sun believe in Solaris, then they should sell it. Giving a choice for this is just barmy. Most customers will say Linux because they now know about it and Red Hat, Novell, HP and IBM use it. If Sun isn’t confident enough to believe in Solaris as the only choice, why on Earth should a customer? First, JDS’s level of desktop integration is unrivaled in the GNU/Linux world. “Integration” means that all applications work together seamlessly within a windowing and menu system that is uniform for all applications. That’s a very, very, very broad definition of integration, and that’s about all you get with JDS. He obviously hasn’t seen the KDE and Gnome argy-bargy about Novell….. For instance, Linux has always been behind Windows and the Mac in the famous clipboard feature for cutting text or objects from one application and pasting them into another. I’ve use Klipper in KDE for years, and I even get a history of copied items so I can paste more than one elsewhere. Windows doesn’t offer me this, and I’ve been able to copy to my heart’s content with Mozilla, Open Office and KDE and Gnome applications. I know for a fact that this was not the work of Sun. JDS finally addresses all of these limitations better than any extant GNU/Linux distro. See Table 1 Oh wow. Everything every other commercial distro, offers but two years older? They won’t be able to bluff people on this. Project Looking Glass is a shockingly fresh, new desktop user interface based in Java 3D that still has a lot of development ahead of it. Project Looking Glass is still just a project, and it will never run as a desktop in full use on today’s hardware. the company’s full complement of software is so tightly aligned with that image that one only needs to see the cup to immediately think, “Sun Microsystems!” Java is a bigger brand than Sun Microsystems, I’m afraid. People see it on mobile phones all the time. nor by Sun’s talent for mating mature Free Software components with non-Free components that fulfill functional requirements that have traditionally been missing. *Finger firmly down throat* All the time that open source software has been the preserve of developer-deployers there’s been no issue, but as it becomes more widely used by deployers with no interest in development, the need for new ways to provide deployers with their necessary freedoms will grow. *Head explodes* Richard Stallman, eat your heart out. They’re turning to commercial suppliers to act as their intermediaries with the open source communities–“they join the community so we don’t have to.” Wow. And this is different from other companies, like Novell or Red Hat, how? Oh my God, sorry! Did I say Red Hat? Sun’s contributions often go unnoticed. Arrrhhh… Diddams. Sun’s priority is systems for the enterprise. From the incredible rants of those in charge and those customers who’ve been left in the lurch by Sun over Cobalt and other things in the assumption you’ll buy a ridiculously expensive SPARC, you wouldn’t think so. Enterprises don’t particularly like their suppliers being schizophrenic. It has been made clear to me that Sun currently need strong leadership from someone who really understands why they are losing to Linux, and can react to it, not someone who encourages incoherent screaming. Unfortunately, it has been made clear to me in another article here that even if they do get that leadership nothing will happen because Sun’s employees themselves just don’t understand what on Earth is going on. Maintaining the status quo and hoping things will be OK with biased articles and meaningless verbal attacks on the competition in blogs will just not do. I’m sure Sun’s competitors would like to tuck into the 11 billion in revenue they apparently still have left. 2004-10-08 2:01 am What is it about Project Looking Glass that we should be excited about anyway? Is there anything special about it except that it is a 3d de? I may be misinformed, but there isn’t much information on the project’s web page either. 2004-10-08 5:47 am Are they providing updates, as their version of Gaim is probably 8 months old, and likely doesn’t work with yahoo and possibly msn as well. I suppose it’s unimportant, but hey they should still update it. You do realise that GAIM’s primary use is for employees to connect to the enterprises chat server which IIRC uses JXTA, which is an XML based chatting protocol that is included with the SUN ONE Messaging Server. 2004-10-08 6:57 am Hi, The current JDS (Release 2) is based on kernel 2.4.19. The next version has a lot of changes and improvements. I’ve been using JDS ever since the internal beta of Release 1. Comparing with WinXP, it’s a decent contender. Might not fit all 100% employees, but it does help Linux reach the desktop earlier. I demoed JDS in a local Linux User Group. Received a very warm ‘welcome to the family’ and joined the Linux community to put Linux on the desktop. If you want more info, a good place is blogs.sun.com. Just search for JDS or Java Desktop. Hope it helps. Regards Iwan Rahabok IT Architect 2004-10-08 9:45 am It is now clear that within a few years, proprietary UNIXes will be moribund ( Solaris, HPUX, AIX ) and there will be a frontal fight between two opponents : Microsoft vs Linux. Of course, there will still be some niche markets ( very high performance high availabilty for example ) where you would still see some proprietary UNIX but, basically, Linux is killing Solaris and HPUX. Of course, Sun marketing desisions are quite bad, but there also a new problem for them : AMD64. It is now impossible for Sun to keep a signifiant performance edge over PC hardware, even for 64 processing. HP has hoped that the Itanium would make their servers better than plain Linux boxes but we all know now that the Itanium is dead. The very same architecture will be used for gamers PCs and enterprise servers ( but not the same chips, of course ). There will be no more market for Sun or HP workstations. Maybe IBM is a little bit less embarassed, as they have bet on everything ( both x86 and PPC, both AIX and Linux ) and the high performance PPC chips are not limited to workstations, thanks to Apple. PPCs are also used on embedded platforms, which is not the case of PA-RISC and Sparcs ( with some notable exceptions, like the Leon ). It’s time for Sun and for the HP workstation division to think about changing their business model and seek other business areas ( Sun would be a good name for an olive oil brand 😉 2004-10-08 10:06 am It seems odd that strident objections are being directed at the very best, most complete, and thoroughly integrated GNU/Linux distro on the market Interesting. I’ve heard different things about JDS. “Different” meaning : It sucks. JDS, being built upon older, more stable components, has faced criticism from open source users who are accustomed to the latest Free Software components and are willing to live with the attendant instability and incompleteness of the application toolset. Then why is it said to be so unstable? And could it be that by “Integration” you mean a random mix of GTK+ and QT apps, thrown together with some other stuff? 2004-10-08 10:19 am “Up until JDS, GNU/Linux distros have been set back for an annoying lack of integration, messy widowing…” I reckon any distro willing to redress the loss of lives gruesomely sacrificed to messy widowing deserves some support. 2004-10-08 11:10 am The author should know that stability is one of the first feature linux has shown, true to the Unix inheritance. That has been the main attraction to Server and desktop adopters alike before set-up wizards and eye candy were even thought for a distro. I switched (desktop) with RH 6 so don’t give me any of this Linux unstability rubbish. Describing linux as unstable before SUN repackaged SUSE stopped me right there. This guy can’t be honest. 2004-10-08 12:19 pm “We can give you a choice of Solaris or Linux sir.” If Sun believe in Solaris, then they should sell it. Giving a choice for this is just barmy. Most customers will say Linux because they now know about it and Red Hat, Novell, HP and IBM use it. If Sun isn’t confident enough to believe in Solaris as the only choice, why on Earth should a customer? If a customer already has dekstop apps that already run well on GNU/Linux .. Sun can offers JDS on GNU/Linux to the customer and there’s no need to modify any code (only some configurations, perhaps). When big companies like HP, Sun, IBM, etc. sell computer system to a customer, very often they offer a solution with many operating systems inside. HP and IBM usually offer Windows for client side and their AIX/HP-UX/Linux for server side. For Sun, it’s just the same, on the server side they really prefer Solaris (on SPARC, of course), on the client side .. they still very much prefer Solaris (x86 or SPARC), but if the customer want GNU/Linux, fine .. they still have it — and with JDS on top of whatever OS, it looks pretty much the same. And “looks pretty much the same” is really important for support service, especially customer service over the phone. They’re not selling a single machine, but lots of machines + software to run on top of them + deployment/configuration services and later support services .. everything. And that’s why these companies have to have many operating systems in their hands. 2004-10-08 12:23 pm >>It seems odd that strident objections are being directed at the very best, most complete, and thoroughly integrated GNU/Linux distro on the market.<< Throughout the entire article, the author just gushes over JDS in this manner – I mean over and over, on and on. I feel like rolling my eyes, shaking my head, and saying “on come on now.” From every half-way objective article I’ve ever read on the subject, JDS is okay. Basicly sunw just ripped off SuSe, and slapped the sunw name on it. 2004-10-08 3:14 pm When I was younger, I thoght that ‘enterprise’ means certain level of excellency, but I had tio change my mind. ‘Enterprise’ is a synonymus for a worst case scenario. ‘Enterprise’ users are ignorant people that do not want to learn applications that they use on daily basis for months or years. They ignore error messages and work much like robots. When I worked as a system administrator, there was person that used Excell for years. The same person tried to ask me to help her create a report in Excell. Needless to say, I see Excell screen about 2-3 times a year, so there was no way I could help. ‘Enterprise’ development technologies are technologies that enable second best in-house developers to create something, since first class developers resigned, looking for better sallary or moving away from ‘enterprise’ policies. Those technologies must be extra robust to produce applications that survive unadequate approach to development process. They are bloated and slow in many cases. I think that it is a good idea to have ‘normal’ Linux distributions for non-enterprise usage, and ‘enterprise’ distributions for ‘enterprise’ customers. DG 2004-10-08 5:35 pm “If Sun believe in Solaris, then they should sell it. Giving a choice for this is just barmy. Most customers will say Linux because they now know about it and Red Hat, Novell, HP and IBM use it.” Well, I wouldn’t say that more people know about Linux then Solaris. After all, despite Sun losing money these days (cause of slumping sales), Approximately 70% of Fortune 500 infrastructure still runs on Sun boxes and Solaris. So they still have plenty of brand name recognition 2004-10-08 10:29 pm actually, Windows does have some kind of clipboard history thingy. I have to use XP at work and when I copy a few things without pasting them I get a little window with icons representing the different things I copied. I don’t use it, but hey, it’s there.