Sun Java Desktop System Lets You Focus on What's Important

Every dollar schools and universities spend on expensive, proprietary software is a dollar less spent on education. So it is really no surprise that schools and universities worldwide have embraced open source software technologies—one of the most popular of which is Linux. The problem is that until recently, Linux was only available in server environments; even if education centers had a Linux server, they would still have to invest in proprietary platforms for desktop solutions. All this has changed, and schools and universities now have access to a full, open source computing environment.

Open source technologies are free, but often need to be compiled in a coherent fashion from a single source to provide product support. Sun Microsystems and others are leveraging these technologies in an attempt to offer an alternative to the expensive, insecure Microsoft Windows platform with products like the Java Desktop System, a Linux and Solaris-based desktop package based on open standards and leading open source components. The system includes the GNOME desktop environment, StarOffice productivity suite, Mozilla browser, Evolution mail and calendar client, and Java 2 Platform Standard Edition.

Cost Savings

As a complete package, the Java Desktop System offers educators substantial cost savings over Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. In fact, the Java Desktop System costs up to 80 percent less than a typical Microsoft Windows environment, with even greater cost savings through educational discounts. Furthermore, the Java Desktop System’s low hardware requirements allow educational institutions to extend their investment in current hardware, saving money on new PC purchases.

Consider this: replacing 1,000 desktops at $1,000 each costs a staggering $1 million—a sum sure to cause cash-strapped school districts to take a second look at their priorities.


But the benefits go far beyond budgeted costs. Computer Economics estimates that 2003 saw 7,064 new viruses, worms and Trojan horses, costing the private sector more than $13 billion. In the educational sector, potential losses go beyond the damage to costly school systems by threatening the integrity of the intellectual property stored there. Fortunately, Linux desktops like the Java Desktop System offer superior built-in security features that prevent viruses, worms and unauthorized users from modifying system files without root-level access.

Robust security is critical since educational institutions house priceless research, private academic records and other sensitive data on their desktop systems. More specific to the Java Desktop System, Sun’s software provides additional security by supporting single sign-on technology through Java Cards and the Sun Java Identity Server, and by offering two-factor authentication and advanced identity management capabilities.

Usability and Familiarity

Many people fear that transitioning to a Linux desktop is too difficult—some early Linux desktop distributions could not even cut and paste text between applications. In contrast, today’s Linux desktops are polished platforms containing tightly integrated applications that go beyond all the basic drag-and-drop, copy/paste and other functionality expected from desktop software.

Years of engineering work went into making the Java Desktop System look and behave similarly to Microsoft Windows so users find it easier to migrate. For example, both the Java Desktop System and Microsoft Windows have a “Documents” default folder and where Windows has a “Start” button the Java Desktop System has a similar “Launch” button. The StarOffice productivity suite included in the Java Desktop System helps cut complexity in migration even more by providing nearly flawless interoperability with Microsoft Office file formats.

Sun Microsystems went even further to drive complexity out of the equation for IT administrators as well by including the industry’s first built-in desktop configuration management software for Linux desktops.

Change is Good

Educational institutions often lead change and the move to Linux is no exception. Sun is currently working with the People’s Republic of China to bridge the digital divide by building a Linux desktop based on the Java Desktop System for deployment to 200 million users from educational institutions, the public sector to private users.

StarOffice and, key components of the Java Desktop System with over 40 million downloads worldwide, have seen unmitigated success among academic institutions having been formally adopted by schools in the Canadian state of Ontario, the state government of Haryana, India, and numerous other government institutions. Sun’s Java Desktop System interface, solid security, and extensive features, is an ideal place to start.

To learn more about Sun’s Java Desktop System, visit

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