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Stephen Shankland


Sun Microsystems has quietly released a version of its Java Desktop System software based on Solaris, a new step in the company’s plan to try to transfer some of Linux’s glory to its own operating system.

The Java Desktop System (JDS) consists of an operating system and higher-level software such as the GNOME user interface, the Mozilla Web browser, the StarOffice competitor to Microsoft Office, RealNetworks’ media player–and of course Sun’s Java software foundation. When JDS was introduced a year ago, it was based only on Novell’s SuSE Linux.

Sun released JDS version 2, based on Solaris 9, last week. According to Sun’s plans, version 3 is due by the end of the year, a version Sun says will be easier to use.

Under a promotional pricing plan that runs through December, the software can be downloaded for $50 per computer per year.

Linux sellers have rallied around the open-source operating system for servers for years, but more recently have used it in direct attacks against Microsoft’s stronghold on desktop PCs.

Sun has begun touting its own Solaris version of the Unix operating system, chiefly by resurrecting and now heavily promoting a version that runs on computers with x86 chips such as Intel’s Pentium. Sun is aiming Solaris chiefly at Red Hat Linux and plans to make the software an open-source product by the end of the year.