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Sun dumps own-brand Linux for established suppliers

Sun Microsystems is ending its seven-month effort to establish its own branded Linux distribution because of customer opposition to yet another Linux version in the marketplace.

Sun spokeswoman Ann O’Leary said the company wanted to focus on developing partnerships with existing Linux suppliers.

O’Leary would not comment on which companies are in talks with Sun, but market leaders include Red Hat, SuSE, UnitedLinux and MandrakeSoft.

"For the sake of not having additional versions, we decided it’s just more streamlined to go with existing vendors," O’Leary said.

Sun felt pressure from customers who were not in favour of having to deal with additional versions of the operating system, added.

The company’s decision to change direction is an appropriate one based on the marketplace, O’Leary said. "I think being able to react quickly is a good thing."

So far no deadline has been set for when Sun will decide which Linux supplier to partner with.

Analyst Bill Claybrook at Aberdeen Group said the direction change was expected. "I thought they’d eventually have to do it," he said, because Sun would have had a tough time competing with market leaders Red Hat and UnitedLinux.

IDC analyst Al Gillen said Sun’s idea of establishing its own Linux did make some sense initially because it would have allowed the company to integrate its applications with the operating system more closely . The problem, though, was that trying to get independent software suppliers to port their applications to a new operating system was unlikely to be successful.

"That’s an uphill battle," he said. "If Sun had a huge market share, it wouldn’t be a problem, but they’re starting from zero."


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