Linux percolates on client side, too
- By Jack Vaughan
Even as Linux makes substantial inroads on the server
side, observers ask if it will ever play a big role on client systems. While
administrative software helpings were most plentiful on the plates at the
LinuxWorld Conference and Expo last week in New York City, client-side
developments were somewhat sparse.
If they were sparse, they were not totally lacking. Some
activity seemed to percolate around the e-mail client task. IBM said it will
client support for its Lotus iNote Web Access software. Cyrusoft International Inc. today unveiled version 3.0 of
the Mulberry e-mail client for the Linux/Solaris operating system. And Sun said
it would release a Sun
One Connector for Ximian's Evolution client.
The Sun connector provides integration for Sun ONE users
with Linux and Solaris desktops to the Evolution e-mail and calendaring
workgroup information client. This should enable them to collaborate with
Windows-based co-workers, as well. Ximian has already fashioned its own
connector to the Microsoft Outlook platform.
Among other interesting desktop developments at
LinuxWorld: SuSE said its newly available SuSE Linux Office Desktop will support
both Microsoft's Office Suite of applications running on the Linux operating
system and Sun's
StarOffice 6.0 on their Linux desktop.
While some enthusiasts have pushed for a Linux
application suite for office workers, neither Sun nor IBM (which inherited the
Windows-based Amipro desktop suite with its purchase several years ago of Lotus)
has moved in that direction.
For his part, Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice
president, software at Sun Microsystems Inc., said that Linux was ''growing
aggressively on the desktop,'' particularly overseas. But, North America, he
indicated, is a
''The appetite for an alternative desktop in North
America is nil,'' said
Operating system changes are key. ''Delivering [Star
Office] on Windows isn't very compelling,'' said Schwartz. ''You have to offer a
Dominant deployment opportunities for Linux desktops, he
noted, are in call centers, education applications, and point-of-sale systems,
such as those found in gas stations; ''wherever you don't want to pay $500 to $600
per desktop. These are customers who 'need to save.'''
In terms of marketing Star Office, the intent continues
to be to ''work with OEMs,'' said Schwartz.
''Our marketing plan is the same as ever -- customers
find it,'' he said. ''You won't see [advertising] billboards on the highway,''
During his presentation Schwartz said Sun was doing what
it could to promote desktop alternatives, noting at the same time Sun's legal
efforts against Microsoft. This led a reporter to ask the status of
the negotiations between Sun and Microsoft in U.S. District
Court for the District of Maryland. The two have been asked by a judge to fashion an
agreement to make Windows ''Java-compatible.''
''The court gave direction in December for Microsoft to
ship a 100% compatible [Java Virtual Machine] in every copy of Windows. We are
working on the wording of the order,'' said Schwartz.
Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.