Sun was told by folks at my local Linux user group that we would like to demo their Sun Java Desktop System (JDS) at one of our meetings. They subsequently became alarmed and insisted that their people needed to demo it, so the whole user group should come to their facility here in Atlanta. For those who don’t know, the JDS is a Linux distribution packaged by Sun with an office suite, email client and (I think) Java IDE for around US$150. Sound pretty innovative? Add up the cost of your last Windows upgrade, what you should have paid for your pirated copy of Microsoft Office, and you get past $150 really quick. Neat idea, huh?
UPDATE: Thanks to the watchful eye of my friend Tom Kovarik, it has been brought to my attention that I failed to include that the JDS has an Exchange-compatible email client.
Well, yeah, in some respects.
I don’t know if it’s going to fly. If it did, I would really get a kick out of that. Anything to diversify the computing environments out there. If this causes some corporations to migrate away from Windows and Office, great. It’s not like Novell hasn’t already been working on this with SuSe. Heck, you can download a CD of that for free via FTP.
Here’s the deal, though. The JDS is not Java. Folks are just now starting to realize that Java is a programming language in popular culture; now it’s also a desktop operating system and an application server. The last time I saw something like this was the .Net ubiquitous mass that Microsoft marketing could never clarify.
The outcome of the user group’s attempt to get Sun to demo the JDS was a box of live CD demos for us to try. I took one home and popped in one of my PC servers. It’s cute; a Gnome desktop with a highly-stylized theme to fit Sun’s colors and the Java logo.
I guess when you already have a Linux install up and running, the impression is “hey, it’s everything I have, and less”.
Sun’s attitude toward open source is analogous to the dad who knows just enough hip phrases to start and immediately blunder a conversation with their kids’ friends. You know what I am talking about; thank God it didn’t really happen to me with my dad. I remember all too well those awkward moments at a friend’s house where some guy’s dad was trying to be cool and it was just painful. You felt bad for the friend, and they were obviously mortified.
Just about every corporate IT department I know could care less about MS Office, except for one thing. Microsoft Exchange and Outlook are the infotech equivalent of the alien with the tube down your throat. You can’t get it out without killing the patient.
If Sun is serious about swiping market share from Microsoft, they need a viable Exchange/Outlook alternative, and they need to sell it HARD. Otherwise they’re wasting their time.
You’re right; I forgot to mention that they have a version of Evolution with Exchange connectivity support. That’s what I get for being in hurry! Thanks for the reminder.
Evolution is OKAY. It’s decent by the traditional linux “It’s cheaper as long as your time is worth nothing” standard. It’s clunky in the way it interfaces with AD. Last time I checked, Evolution operated by hooking into and parsing the OWA web interface from Exchange, because MS wouldn’t open up their native Exchange interface to competitors. Evolution is better than nothing, but it can’t functionally compete with Outlook, and that’s saying something. 🙁
I know SuSE and Oracle each built Exchange-killers, plus Lotus Notes has prolonged its slow death more than I ever expected, but Exchange is the linchpin of Microsoft’s deathgrip on the enterprise server. Until that changes, Sun might as well be content with other spaces.
PS – The darn thing is, everyone I know who administers Exchange hates it and wishes there were a good groupware alternative. I know it’s not easy, but boy would it be profitable…
Yeah, ActiveDirectory integration still stinks I believe. That’s another chapter in the “extend and embrace” book of Microsoft successfully feigning compliance with standards. As a former Exchange admin, I don’t miss that part of life much.