Java creator Sun Microsystems Inc. and application development tool vendor Inprise Corp. will announce next week that they're porting the Java 2 development kit to the Linux operating system, a source close to Inprise said.
Support for Java 2 on Linux broadens Java's cross-platform appeal and Linux's appeal as a Java platform, observers said. The announcement also signals that Sun, which is regarded as ambivalent and even hostile toward Linux, has begun to shift its support of the Unix variant.
Other vendors have ported earlier versions of Java to Linux, but Sun and Inprise hope to be the first to enable a Linux version of Java 2, which has the most potent capabilities for enterprise and e-commerce use. Inprise's Java development tool, JBuilder 3, requires Java 2 to run, and its application server requires a Java 2 development kit to be used.
"It makes sense for Sun," said analyst George Weiss at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Group Inc. Sun can promote Linux as an alternative to Windows NT on cheap Intel-based workstations, he said, and score public relations points with the open-source community, which has been cool to the vendor.
"Sun has somewhat of a critical reception in the open-source community because of its community source license and its ambivalent position with regard to Linux," Weiss said.
Whether Sun and Inprise can win over users is an open question. The Home Depot Inc. in Atlanta is testing Java on Linux as the potential infrastructure for its in-store applications, said application development manager Kathy Tadlock. The company became interested in the idea after IBM released a beta version of a Java virtual machine for Linux in June.
Tadlock said Sun and Inprise's move will allow them to compete for Home Depot's business, but she added that it isn't crucial for Home Depot to execute its plans.
Senior editor Carol Sliwa contributed to this story.
This story, "Sun, Inprise plan to port Java 2 to Linux" was originally published by Computerworld.