Sun Microsystems is pondering a long-term desktop strategy for Linux that may mean changing its arrangement with SuSE, which currently provides the Linux distribution for Sun's desktop platform.
Sun sells the SuSE Linux distribution as part of the Sun Java Desktop System applications suite. But that may change, according to Jonathan Schwartz, Sun executive vice president for software. The company is "beginning to look at what the right strategy is in the long run," he said.
"Customers don't really care about what the kernel is on the desktop as much as they do on the server," Schwartz said in an interview on Thursday. "Customers care about a solution on the desktop."
"I guess we're a little bit disappointed with SuSE's performance in the marketplace," said Schwartz. Asked if Sun would revive its own Sun Linux distribution that it discontinued last year, Schwartz said, "That's an interesting question."
Sun seeks the appropriate components for its desktop solution, he said. There are "deals percolating that we're beginning to see" in relation to the company's Linux desktop offering, Schwartz said.
SuSE is slated to be officially acquired by Novell perhaps later this month under a $210 million deal announced in December. A SuSE official on Thursday said he was unaware of any problems with the company's relationship with Sun. "We've had no problems whatsoever with Sun," said Joe Eckert, vice president of communications at SuSE.
He said he did not know what Sun meant in its being disappointed with SuSE's performance. "Our enterprise business [on the server and desktop combined] grew in triple digits last year," Eckert said.
Sun and SuSE in October announced that SuSE would provide the core Linux technology for Java Desktop System, which also features the StarOffice office productivity suite; Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition; Mozilla, browser; e-mail; calendaring; and instant messaging.