Sun has made an official release of the GNOME 2 desktop environment for Solaris, marking the beginning of the end of the Common Desktop Environment's (CDE) status as Solaris' default graphical interface.
GNOME, which stands for "GNU Object Model Environment," has its genesis in the late '90s, when the project was conceived to create a desktop environment for Linux-based operating systems that wasn't based on proprietary libraries or toolkits. Since then, the project has come to represent one of two major choices for Linux users.
In addition to a basic desktop interface, the GNOME project provides a variety of development tools and libraries that create a framework for application development on UNIX platforms, including GLADE, a GUI rapid application development (RAD) tool. Sun has taken the further step of classifying GNOME programming interfaces in categories including "Standard" (industry standard), "External" (defined by the open source community), and "Evolving" (very stable, although still subject to minor changes). The company has also announced plans to provide the popular GNOME-based e-mail, calendar, and address PIM Evolution as part of its workstation installations. Evolution is able to work with both Microsoft Exchange and Sun ONE servers in a groupware context.
Sun began the process of adapting GNOME to Solaris two years ago, when it joined the project's Foundation as a corporate member and announced its intent to jettison the venerable CDE. Since then, Sun has invested resources in usability testing and worked with GNOME developers who seized on its release of its StarOffice software to form the cornerstone of a GNOME-centered office suite. The partnership hasn't always been easy. Sun announced a partnership with Linux company Eazel in late 2000, in a deal that would have established Eazel as the primary desktop services presence for Solaris users, but stood by as Eazel went bankrupt and closed its doors five months later.
To assist users anchored in CDE, Sun has added menus to GNOME that provide easy access to CDE-based applications. The company said it will continue to support CDE for the "foreseeable future" and has not made the two environments mutually exclusive: users will still have the option to launch CDE at login.
System requirements for the software include:
- Solaris 8 Operating Environment or higher (SPARC or x86 Architecture Editions).
- Workstation or Sun Ray thin client running Solaris 8 OE or later
- Minimum of 128 Mbytes of memory for a workstation or, for a Sun Ray configuration, 96 Mbytes of memory.
- 225 MBytes of free disk space.
- 600 Mbytes of additional free disk space for the downloaded file and the install image directory. These files can be deleted after installation.
GNOME 2.0 for Solaris is available for download at Sun's site: http://wwws.sun.com/software/star/gnome/.