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Sun has hitched its open source and Java developer fortunes to Ubuntu by inserting NetBeans into the latest version of the fast-growing distribution.

Ubuntu 7.04 features Sun’s NetBeans IDE version 5.5 along with key components of Sun’s open source middleware stack – the GlassFish Java application server, Java Platform Standard Edition JDK 6.0, and Java DB 10.2.

Support for NetBeans follows Ubuntu's support for the rival, and decidedly more popular, Eclipse open source Java tools environment. While Sun has claimed thousands of downloads, the company has had a tougher time in getting partners to officially endorse NetBeans.

Ubuntu’s support for NetBeans is the latest phase in a relationship with Sun that started last year with integration of the JDK, saw certification and support for Ubuntu on Sun hardware.

Ian Murdock, Sun's recently appointed chief operating systems platform officer, said the goal is to make Sun's Java technology more accessible to the Linux community. “The fact it’s integrated and available through the Ubuntu management technology is an important part of it,” he said.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu, said he hoped Sun’s tools and Java middleware seep into Debian – updated last week – and the broader Linux Universe. “The only fact holding them back from deep integration into the Ubuntu core are the steps on licensing the Java runtime and we do expect that to be completed in due course.”

Shuttleworth ruled out plans to turn Ubuntu into a complete Linux and middleware stack, similar to Red Hat. "We don't want to eat out way up the application stack. We see our strategy as partnering with providers of free software solutions and integrating their work into Ubuntu and partnering to make sure it’s easy to deploy and manage."

If Sun wishes to reach out to developers through Ubuntu, it's off to a strong start. The Ubuntu site has been unavailable for long periods today. Outages are more likely to be down due to an overwhelming desire among developers to down load the free and relatively easy to use distribution, rather than a desire to get their hands on Sun’s free tools and middleware.®

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