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Sun drafts open-source blog developer

The principal author of Roller Weblogger will gather support for the online journals inside and outside Sun.

Sun Microsystems has hired the principal author of the open-source Roller Weblogger software, a move that's part of an attempt to build closer ties with developers and customers.

As an employee of the server and software company, David Johnson will work full-time on developing the Roller software and on gathering support inside and outside Sun for the online journals known as Web logs, Johnson said in his own blog Monday.

Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's chief operating officer, commented on the hire in his own blog on Monday.

In an interview Tuesday, Schwartz said Sun is encouraging use of blogs to communicate directly and efficiently with people as different as bankers and Linux users. "What better ambassadors than our own employees? And what more efficient vehicle than a network connection?" he said.

Sun also hopes to sell the computing infrastructure that companies could use to build their own blog sites, Schwartz added.

Blogs have become a corporate tool for companies that want to build relationships with developers and customers. IBM, Microsoft, Google and Dell all use blogs. Schwartz has used his blog to try to steer readers toward Sun's worldview.

Roller, an open-source program under the Roller Software License, is written in the Java programming language, which Sun created to make it easier to run a single piece of software on different computers. Johnson said that he and other Roller contributors didn't sell the software to Sun. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company is already able to distribute Roller freely, since it is open-source software.

At Sun, one of Johnson's tasks will be to add "failover" capabilities to Roller, so that if one server hosting Roller blogs crashes, another can take over, according to the blog of Johnson's new supervisor, Will Snow.

Johnson also said he plans to advocate the use of wikis, which are collaboratively developed information repositories such as Wikipedia.