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Sun boosts Java on Linux gadgets

The computer systems company releases a version of Java for small gadgets using the Linux operating system.

NEW YORK--Sun Microsystems has released a version of Java for small gadgets using the Linux operating system, the company said Wednesday.

Sun has a lukewarm attitude about the Linux operating system, which competes with Sun's Solaris and is popular chiefly on Intel computer systems. But Sun is clear that it wants its Java software to run on all types of computers, and Linux machines work in concert to undermine the market power of Sun's foe Microsoft.

Java lets programs run on numerous computer types without having to be rewritten for each one. Java for Linux has been available for months, but Wednesday at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo trade show here, Sun released a version for small gadgets. This version is called the "connected device configuration" of Java, which is designed for set-top boxes, in-car computers and home servers that join computers and consumer electronic devices to the Internet.

The use of Linux in such devices is one sector that is catching on as Linux gradually encroaches on most sectors of the computing market. Red Hat, among others, is pushing into the "embedded" area, which includes set-top boxes and many other computing contraptions.

Borland, a maker of programming tools used to create software, said it will support this version of Linux and Java. Sun has made Java a free download, though companies using it in products must still pay licensing fees.

In a boost for Java on the higher end, Tower Technology has released its Java software for servers running Red Hat, SuSE or Turbolinux, the company said. Tower is demonstrating its software running as part of the Lutris Enhydra e-commerce software at the trade show.

Tower has "cloned" Java, creating a version independent of Sun's own that Tower claims to run more quickly. The company's customers include Yahoo, ESPN, EDS and Inktomi.

Tower plans to release a Windows 2000 version of its version of Java in the second quarter of 2001.