Sun Offers An Early Look at Solaris 9 for Intel Hardware

Sun Microsystems Inc. last week released an unsupported early-access, or test, version of its Solaris 9 operating system.

Sun Microsystems Inc. last week released an unsupported early-access, or test, version of its Solaris 9 operating system for non-Sun x86 hardware that early testers said is missing key features, including Sun ONE Application Server.

"Featurewise, theyve added most of [them], but there are still a couple of pieces of the Sun ONE [Open Net Environment] stack that appear to be missing," said Alan DuBoff, president of Software Orchestration Inc., a consultancy in San Jose, Calif., and one of the community representatives who negotiated with Sun to ensure it released Solaris 9 for the x86 platform. "The most notable piece is the application server, but the iPlanet Directory Services are in there, and that is a big plus. Hopefully, Sun will include the application server when the final code is released next month."

Bill Moffitt, product line manager for Solaris at Sun, in Menlo Park, Calif., told eWeek that the application server has not yet made it into Solaris 9 for x86. That server will be available in Solaris 9 for Suns SPARC hardware in an update to be released by years end, and it will be included in a future update of Solaris 9 for x86, expected next year, Moffitt said.

The early-access release is available for download for $20. The final product is expected to ship by years end. Last month, Sun announced plans to release an unbundled version of Solaris 9 for non-Sun x86 hardware at a cost of $99 for a single-CPU system.

The announcement followed months of uncertainty about Suns Solaris 9 intentions. The company said last January it would defer development of the Solaris 9 Intel version for financial reasons. A week later, it announced plans to meet a group of customers and developers to work out a compromise. And in August, Sun announced that it will support Solaris 9 only on its own x86-based hardware.

Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president of Suns software group, told eWeek he regretted what had happened with Solaris on x86 but said Sun had ultimately kept its word to customers.

Sun is seeing good demand for Solaris 8 on its LX50 Intel-based hardware, with about one-third of orders requesting it, Schwartz said.

Software Orchestrations DuBoff said the Solaris community is happy Sun has backed up its words with a product, even if it is an early-access version.

"Its been quite a while since Sun announced the postponement of Solaris x86, and its already been a month or two since they announced they would bring it back officially. So it is good to see them finally getting things together," DuBoff said.

Suns Moffitt said that while Sun will supply and support its Sun ONE products on the x86 operating system as a stack, some of this will be bundled for free on its LX50 hardware later, along with other components that were supplied under various licensing terms.

"So there wont be parity between Sun hardware and non-Sun hardware going forward," Moffitt said. "There will be an element of software that the LX50 comes with that the non-Sun hardware wont get in the future. ... The general principle we are operating on is that if it is available for SPARC, it should be available for the LX50."