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Sun Strikes Huge Linux Desktop Deal With China

The multi-year deal with the China Standard Software Company (CSSC) will eventually make Sun's Java Desktop System the standard desktop software for millions of machines.

Sun Microsystems Monday announced a multi-year deal with the China Standard Software Company (CSSC) that will eventually make Sun's Java Desktop System the standard desktop software for millions of machines across the People's Republic of China (PRC).

The arrangement with the CSSC -- a consortium of Chinese technology companies that's supported by the Chinese government -- will put the Java Desktop System on half a million to a million desktops in the PRC per year, with the end goal bullish with a capital B: at least 200 million copies of the software.

Java Desktop System is Sun's name Linux software bundle that includes a graphical interface, the Mozilla Web browser, the StarOffice 7 productivity suite, and other tools ranging from an instant messenger to an e-mail client.

The licensing agreement, which will start at the end of this year, allows the CSSC to deliver its own branded products using the Java Desktop System as the foundation for a nation-wide standard. The deal must first clear export approval from the U.S. government, however.

China, as well as other Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, have been making noise of late about developing a computing standard based on Linux, rather than relying on the made-in-the-U.S. Windows from Microsoft.

"This really puts us in the leadership role in the Linux desktop market," claimed Peder Ulander, the marketing manager for Sun's desktop solutions division. "Red Hat has all but washed its hands of Linux on the desktop, and although SuSE is doing some good stuff, this deal with China makes us the significant player in the space."