Wal-Mart, Sun Team on Linux PCs

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Wal-Mart stores have begun selling PCs manufactured by Microtel Computer Systems featuring Sun Microsystems' alternative operating system based on Linux and its StarOffice productivity software.

Sun's Java Desktop System (JDS) is available in Microtel PCs with processors from both Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. The systems became available on Walmart.com this week at prices ranging from $298 to $798, depending on configuration, according to the site.

Suite Bundle

The new PCs are designed for business customers who want to move from Microsoft's ubiquitous Windows operating system to an alternative product without spending a lot of time and money retraining their employees, says Peder Ulander, Sun's director of marketing for desktop solutions.

JDS is based on SuSE Linux AG's distribution of the open-source operating system, but it comes with the GNOME desktop environment to give users a familiar icon-based experience, Ulander says. It also features the StarOffice software suite of word processing and spreadsheet software, the Mozilla Web browser, the Evolution e-mail and calendar software from Ximian, photo-editing software, and other utilities, he says.

Sun introduced JDS last year, and is starting to roll it out with partners such as Microtel and Wal-Mart, Ulander says. Several other partners around the world have been signed, and Sun is in talks with of the world's largest PC vendors to distribute JDS, he adds.

Individual users can purchase the operating system alone for $50, Ulander says.

New Ventures

Sun is trying to reach into different markets outside its traditional base of large corporate customers.

While its primary business remains servers, the hardware company has been searching for additional sources of revenue as its server business has declined in the past few years.

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