7 March 2003 Sun Microsystems is in talks with Linux operating system suppliers SuSE and Red Hat in a move that would see it ditch its own version of Linux in favour of Red Hat, SuSE or both.
Sun launched Sun Linux in August 2002, but its adoption has been hampered by a lack of support from independent software vendors (ISVs). They have been unwilling to certify and support products for a version of Linux that was so late to market and aimed at such a small potential audience.
ISVs tend to stick to the most popular distributions – Red Hat and SuSE – on the grounds of cost. Users of other Linux distributions, such as Debian, Gentoo and Slackware, have to compile the code themselves and do not enjoy support from the ISV.
If Sun were to ditch Sun Linux and support Red Hat and SuSE instead, it would increase its influence in the open source community, while unburdening itself of the development, marketing and support costs of Sun Linux.
The news was greeted with relief by analysts, who had warned Sun against its go-it-alone strategy on Linux. Gartner’s George Weiss said that as Sun competes in terms of the quality of its hardware and high-end software, supporting a distribution of Linux did not add any extra value for customers.
Sun has staunchly supported the Linux Standards Base (LSB) initiative in a bid to bring greater uniformity to the Linux operating system market. However, LSB compliance is still not enough to ensure that a program written for one distribution of Linux will work with another without modification.