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Sun Microsystems has furthered its ambitions in open source development by hiring top Python developers Ted Leung and Frank Wierzbicki.

Leung comes from the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF) where he used Python to help build the Chandler personal information package. Wierzbicki comes from Red Hat where he became lead developer for Jython, the Java implementation of Python.

Both are experienced open source developers and are expected to use their knowledge of Python - a high-level dynamic programming language - to extend the portfolio of languages it supports. Sun is working on extending its Java virtual machine (JVM) to enable other languages to use it with the Da Vinci Machine project.

Leung and Wierzbicki will also beef up Sun's open source activities following its acquisition of MySQL and other key hirings - such as Ian Murdock from the Linux Foundation - in 2007.

The hiring of Wierzbicki is especially interesting in light of the MySQL purchase. One of Wierzbicki's areas of expertise is the use of Python with SQL and database systems. He will be talking about Jython and SQL at next week's PyCon conference in Chicago.

Sun's belated interest in Python does, though, raise questions over the proliferation of its programming language options. The company already has substantial investment in Java which it open sourced back in 2006 and has also strongly backed Ruby. Maybe its next move will be to promote the Python derived Cobra, which also joined the list of open source projects last week.

Sun's focus on scripting comes as Microsoft looks for Python developers to build up its .NET-based IronPython project. The company, meanwhile, plans to also talk more about its implementation of Ruby, IronRuby announced a year ago, at this week's Mix 08 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.®

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