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Sun to IBM: Go Linux with us

The company says it's committed to a wholesale move from the Microsoft desktop and is prepared to help IBM do the same.

3 min read
Sun Microsystems has offered IBM the benefit of its "experience," if Big Blue decides that it wants to implement a wholesale move to the Linux desktop.

In a memo Sun issued Wednesday, Executive VP Jonathan Schwartz said his company is firmly committed to a wholesale move from the Microsoft desktop--possibly in the next six months--and is prepared to help IBM do the same.

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"We're not waiting for 2005 to migrate all of Sun to a non-Microsoft desktop. By the end of this calendar year--potentially by summer--we'll be there," he said.

Schwartz's memo, entitled "Free advice for Sam Palmisano on IBM's desktop options," refers to a story broken earlier this year in which a leaked IBM memo appeared to show that the company was committed to a complete internal migration to desktop Linux. But when the story became public, it was denied by IBM's public relations team.

The leaked internal memo in question, from IBM's chief information officer Bob Greenberg, revealed that Palmisano, the company's chairman, had "challenged the (information technology) organization, and indeed all of IBM, to move to a Linux-based desktop before the end of 2005."

But IBM later denied that it had back-tracked on the memo, with spokeswoman Trink Guarino claiming that the company was merely evaluating the idea of desktop Linux. "IBM has no plans to move all of its employees to Linux desktops by 2005"--or even a majority of them, she said.

Sun's Schwartz attacked IBM for refusing to resell Linux and for its unwillingness to legally indemnify customers for its use. He said the whole affair had left him confused and disappointed by IBM's Linux strategy. "What's most disappointing is there appears to be no real commitment to Linux. Are you, or aren't you, moving your desktops? I guess I just don't understand your Linux strategy."

Schwartz has offered to help IBM migrate to Linux desktops by selling it Sun's Java Desktop System, released last summer. "We can offer a desktop for every one of your employees--with a free right to use the desktop at home--for $50 per employee. Consider this a formal quote from Sun--but only if you're willing to buy in volume."

Sun's U.K. managing director, Leslie Stretch, backed up Schwartz's commitment to an all-inclusive adoption of a non-Microsoft desktop and claimed that his team in the United Kingdom has already achieved this goal. When questioned on whether Sun's U.K. division is Microsoft-free, he said, "We are--but not through an edict. I wouldn't bully our staff into using what we use. Three months before we hit production on (Java Desktop), most of the company was using it."

Stretch also aped Schwarz's commitment to IBM by offering to help out IBM's U.K. division. "We can help IBM. I'd like to go and meet them in the U.K. and help with their desktop. I am serious; I will be putting calls into them locally to help them. We have got the desktop running; we have proven the integration of the e-mail environment and the browser. It's there. Let's go for it."

IBM was not immediately able to comment.

Andrew Donoghue of ZDNet UK reported from London.