Ailing Sun desktop to get OpenSolaris boost

A Sun Microsystems desktop engineer has outlined plans to release the code for the company's Java Desktop System (JDS) environment and integrate it better with OpenSolaris.Proposing the idea to the small-but-growing OpenSolaris community, Sun's Glynn Foster said the aim was to disprove doubts about OpenSolaris being ready for the desktop and start a group to develop JDS, which is based on the open-source GNOME desktop environment.

A Sun Microsystems desktop engineer has outlined plans to release the code for the company's Java Desktop System (JDS) environment and integrate it better with OpenSolaris.

Proposing the idea to the small-but-growing OpenSolaris community, Sun's Glynn Foster said the aim was to disprove doubts about OpenSolaris being ready for the desktop and start a group to develop JDS, which is based on the open-source GNOME desktop environment.

Short-term goals for the project -- according to a proposal Glynn has published -- would include releasing the JDS code and build infrastructure, and updating the JDS code to the latest version of GNOME.

According to the OpenSolaris roadmap, the JDS code is due to be released to the community within three months of the initial OpenSolaris launch.

Longer term, Foster wants to "open up our internal development and project management processes around JDS, and adapt them for best gain".

The move is perhaps the end point for JDS, which has trodden a rocky path since its introduction back in 2002. While Sun at that time touted a JDS/Linux combo as a potential Windows desktop competitor, the company admitted last week JDS would chiefly feature as Solaris' main desktop environment and be aimed at programmers. In that role it will replace the venerable CDE system.

One challenge that Foster acknowledged in his proposal was a basic for any project bridging commercial and open source interests. That is, any JDS team that develops will need to coordinate work between the programmers working on OpenSolaris -- who thus far, primarily work for Sun -- and the wider open source community.

The news comes as work continues to bring base graphical user interface (GUI) functionality to the SchilliX OpenSolaris distribution. The alternative way to run OpenSolaris is with Sun's Solaris Express Community Release, which already includes the ability to run GUI environments like JDS.

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