Sun desktop software exec moving to Linux specialist

Marketing chief for Sun's Desktop Solutions Group jumps ship to head marketing at MontaVista Software.

Peder Ulander, the top marketing executive for Sun Microsystems' Desktop Solutions Group, is leaving the company to join embedded Linux specialist MontaVista Software, CNET News.com has learned.

At MontaVista, Ulander will be vice president of marketing, the company confirmed. MontaVista, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., sells versions of Linux and associated programming tools for adapting the open-source operating system to "embedded" computing devices such as consumer electronics or telecommunications equipment .

Ulander had been working on Sun's newest effort to claim a foothold on personal computers, a stronghold held for years by rival Microsoft. Sun's attack employs Linux, Java , a graphical interface called Looking Glass and the closely related OpenOffice and StarOffice, which compete with Microsoft's Office productivity package.

Sun confirmed Ulander's decision to leave but said the company remains committed to desktop software. "We will continue delivering high-quality desktop solutions and build upon our success in the desktop market," Sun said in a statement.

Sun chiefly sells more powerful computers called servers, but the Santa Clara, Calif., company has seen market share and revenue decline for years. Sun is in the midst of a 3,300-person layoff . The company is scheduled to report financial results for its fourth quarter of fiscal 2004 on Tuesday.

MontaVista raised $7 million in April, bringing its total investment to $72 million. The company faces competition from Microsoft , Novell , a host of companies with other versions of Linux or custom-made operating systems, and an alliance between top Linux seller Red Hat and embedded-systems specialist Wind River.

At MontaVista, Ulander will be reunited with a former colleague, Kelly Herrell . At server maker Cobalt, which Sun acquired for $2 billion in 2000, Herrell was vice president of marketing, and Ulander was a senior product marketing manager.

In April, MontaVista hired Herrell as senior vice president of strategic operations.

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