Sun's JDS Linux Desktop: Author Calls it a Throw-away

Posted by dave on Oct 31, 2005 1:31 PM EDT; By News Staff
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People say, " Don't look a gift horse in the mouth." But what if the horse is long in the tooth? Sun wants to salvage something out of the money and ill-will it spent and created on the Java Desktop System build for Linux. But really, who wants Sun's leftovers?

Tom Adelstein writes: "I co-authored a book called Exploring the JDS Linux Desktop. Before we began drafting the outline, we made several visits with the directors of that project. We practically lived with Sun people for nine months. We organized a community, put up a web site, haunted the Sun JDS forum providing free support for people who bought the product.

"We put together a team of Linux veterans, researched the market, brought qualified enterprise prospects to the table, did a white paper for their sales group, recruited Linux engineers to work on the beta, etc. The director of engineering for JDS kept asking us to build backports for them. So, we built approximately 100 RPMS for their version of Linux and made them downloadable on our community web site. "

To help defer Tom's and his team's expenses and pay developers, the director of engineering offered to contract with them for a number of initatives including building a JDS 3 LiveCD. But, they never saw a statement of work. Sun didn't even keep their promise to purchase and ship the book Tom and Sam Hiser wrote for Sun's employees and/or customers.

The New Sun

For a couple of years, the media had a feeding frenzy with Sun. We didn't see many kind words in the press about the once dominant server maker. Questions arose like: "What kind of a company offers a product and doesn't support it?" or "How do they claim to have the first alternative to Windows in fifteen years while their President routinely criticizes Linux, the GPL, open-source, Linux fanatics?" or How about the times he fired the developers working on the Linux project and moved the remainder to the OpenSolaris project?"

Sun slated the release and upgrade of version 3 of the JDS Linux project for last February 2005. They couldn't release it then because it did not work very well. Many Linux veterans bought into Sun's articulated vision of the Linux desktop and devoted time to betas and re-betas. In fact, without those Linux veterans, we wonder how Sun would have known how to fix all their development failures.

Tom's contacts at Sun told him that the company would offer two products, a JDS Linux distribution and a Solaris distribution. But when Sun finally released its OpenSolaris code, their development team started a "holy war" declaring they would destroy Linux. A few encounters on that project and Tom resigned. If you have an interest in fanatics, he'll show you some vulger, profanity laced emails he received from OpenSolaris developers.

Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose

Whatever happened to Sun's 200 million seat deployment with the Chinese Standard Software Company? We thought Scott McNealy said "check" to IBM and Microsoft with a pawn. That's what he claimed about his big deal in China.

If you want to find a way to characterize Sun as an organization, simply read their Press Releases. They contradict themselves often. First, their Chairman does a press event in a Penguin costume, then does another press event with his golfing pal, Steve Ballmer.

The Linux desktop has gone way past the excellent product Sun released in December 2003. That desktop offered the Gnome 2.2 desktop and some very nice engineering. Most Linux desktops now offer Gnome 2.12 which has incorporated the nice engineering found in the original Sun project Madhatter. So, no one wants Sun's throwback desktop today.

Sun needs to do something with JDS because people have actually purchased it. How do they keep from losing face? Answer: Throw it on the pile of other Linux software they didn't understand and call it open source - like Cobalt's Linux management Interface, Project Looking Glass and Netbeans.

No Hope

Don't get your hopes up about the JDS desktop for Linux. They need to prove that they can follow through on something first. So far, the jury remains out. We don't know who would want their desktop anyway: It's old, they changed the look and feel and who will support it?

Remember their call to arms: Kill Linux!

Additional Links: Authors slam Sun's open source strategy

» Read more about: Story Type: Editorial, LXer Features; Groups: Community, GNOME, IBM, Microsoft, Sun

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Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
good engineers, terrible management... wjl 0 3,222 Nov 1, 2005 5:53 AM
Wrong Kristofferson.... dinotrac 4 3,688 Nov 1, 2005 3:38 AM

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