Sun gets Mad Hatter

Last week's LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco saw an enormous range of product news, a stunning acquisition announcement, plenty of SCO bashing (the company seems out to slap a royalty on every Linux system out there), and lots of fuzzy mascot penguins.

Several vendors introduced new and updated apps at this year's show, many of them designed to make Linux manageable in the enterprise. Sun Microsystems previewed its forthcoming desktop environment, code-named "Mad Hatter." It represents the Santa Clara, Calif.-based systems company's best efforts to build a better and cheaper desktop.

Mad Hatter desktops will use JavaCards for authentication, and will include a JVM, the Gnome desktop interface, the Mozilla browser, the Evolution personal information manager from Ximian and the Gaim instant messaging client. Mad Hatter is expected to be released this fall.

Sun's EVP of software, Jonathan Schwartz, demoed Mad Hatter at the show. He also gave the audience a peek at Sun's "Looking Glass" prototype 3-D desktop environment.

Schwartz told attendees to worry more about the quality of their code than the software licenses that govern it. "The thing I worry about most with the open-source community is the sentiment that open source is somehow different," Schwartz said. "It isn't." What makes Mad Hatter appealing isn't that it's based on open-source software, he said, but rather that it's "better and cheaper."


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About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at


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