Sun Microsystems Inc. has initiated a program to replace some of its Sun Ray devices after finding a problem that can cause the systems to fail.
The problem, which is tied to the systems power supply, can also cause the devices to emit a small amount of smoke.
The Palo Alto, Calif., company discovered the problem late last year and began sending letters to customers soon afterward. Sun began replacing some systems as early as May.
The company also posted a notice on its Web site outlining the problem involving its Sun Ray 1.
"The majority of times, it will look like the Sun Ray 1 has lost power," the letter said. "The LED may flash from amber to green or may just go out completely. In very few cases, there may be a noise like a pop and maybe a small amount of smoke."
Sun said that the smoke, which doesnt present a fire safety hazard, is the result of a "capacitor ventilating" in the devices power supply.
The defect is tied only to the Sun Ray 1 model, according to the company, and not to the Sun Ray 100 or the Sun Ray 150 models.
Sun, which said it discovered the problem during laboratory testing, has initiated an exchange program to provide replacement systems.
"All of our units have been replaced," said O.P. Cooper, assistant superintendent of technology at Carrollton City Schools, in Carrollton, Ga. "We had problems with a few units but not a dramatic number. They contacted us early on, and we replaced them in the last two months."
The school system uses 450 Sun Rays. Overall, Cooper said, he is pleased with the devices.
The Sun Ray 1, introduced in 1999, is a desktop appliance that looks like a PC but—unlike a PC—contains no microprocessor. Instead, the product relies on a connected server to process all applications.
Also known as thin clients, such devices are touted as being more reliable than PCs because they use fewer components, and they are easier to manage because computing functions are based on servers rather than employee desktops.
Customers who have detected the problem can contact Sun Enterprise Services to arrange for an exchange.
Further information is available at www.sun.com/service/support/products/desktops/sunray_support.html.