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Sun helps Linux go global

The company releases software to the open-source community that could make it easier to make Linux software usable in a myriad of languages.

Sun Microsystems has released software to the open-source community that could make it easier to make Linux software usable in a myriad of languages.

Sun this week released the internationalization software included in the X Windows graphics component of Linux and Unix. The software, based on code originally from the X Group (now X.org) was released under the X license. That's the same license that covered the software initially, Sun said.

The software is a layer that makes it easier to write software onto which any number of languages can be grafted. A program written to use the layer can be more easily shifted so Japanese as well as French people can use a program.

The code from Sun will help several facets of Linux internationalization, said Dirk Hohndel, chief technology officer of German Linux seller SuSE and a major contributor to the Xfree86 project to bring X to Linux. The effort will help with complex text arrangements--some languages read right-to-left or top-to-bottom--as well as support for Unicode, a character set that allows use of many international alphabets, Hohndel said in a statement.

Akio Kido, co-chairman of the Linux Internationalization Initiative, also endorsed Sun's move.

The X license allows people to use the software in any way they desire with no restriction.

Sun uses the internationalization software in its own version of Unix, called Solaris. Linux is a clone of Unix that has expanded from a hobby to a serious part of many computer company product lines. Linux is open-source software, meaning that anyone may modify and redistribute the underlying programming instructions of the software.