Sun to Ship Solaris 9 for Intel Servers

Company does an about-face and decides to offer Solaris 9 for the Intel x86 architecture going forward.

Sun Microsystems Inc. has done an about-face with regard to its January decision not to offer Solaris 9 for the Intel x86 architecture going forward.

Jack OBrien, manager of Suns Linux Business Office in Menlo Park, Calif., confirmed to eWEEK that Sun will now introduce Solaris 9 for x86 going forward.

This latest decision is the culmination of a rollercoaster ride of events that followed Suns decision in early January to not release a version of the Solaris 9 operating environment for network servers on the Intel platform.

Graham Lovell, a Solaris director at Sun in Santa Clara, Calif., said at that time that the company had decided to defer the productization of the Solaris 9 Intel version "as we have decided to focus more tightly on projects that have the greatest impact on Suns bottom line."

"The SPARC version of Solaris is used with our hardware and therefore generates revenue, while the Intel version focused primarily on enthusiasts and others who ran Solaris on PCs and laptops," he said.

However, taken aback by the vehemence with which users met that decision, just a week later Sun said it would meet a group of customers and developers who use Solaris on Intel to try to work out a compromise.

Backtracking significantly, Lovell told eWEEK at that time that the companys decision was not irreversible and was made purely from a business perspective. "If the business metrics change we can reverse this. Theres absolutely no technical reason why we couldnt do this; its purely a set of business reasons," he said.

After a couple of meetings with the Solaris Intel community, however, the process again seemed stuck.

But Suns OBrien this weekend disagreed that the decision to go ahead with Solaris 9 on x86 was a complete reversal as "we only said we were deferring the productization of Solaris 9, not that it was the end of its life on Intel," he said.

Discussions with the Solaris on Intel community are continuing. "We really want to work out the processes so we can do two things. One, we want to offer Solaris 9 with an integrated systems approach, a business model that works and that is akin to our Linux on x86 business model, and that is fully supported by Sun.

"Secondly, were exploring the right business model to make sure the community is actively engaged in that market as well. So, yes, the community is still very important to us and we just need to nail down the details," OBrien said.

On Monday, Sun CEO, Chairman and President Scott McNealy will also unveil a new, general-purpose x86-based server, the Sun LX50, at a press event. It is the first Sun system to feature the companys own enterprise-ready Linux operating system, known as Sun Linux 5.0, which is based on the 2.4 kernel and optimized for a 32-bit x86 system.

Prices for the Sun LX50 start at $2,795 and rise to some $5,295 for a richer configuration. The systems will be generally available on Aug. 26, O Brien said.

McNealy will also deliver a keynote at the LinuxWorld conference on Tuesday, titled "The Role of Linux in a Capitalist Society." While Suns OBrien said McNealy would "never apologize for being a capitalist," he believes there is plenty of money to be made by everyone.

He will use his keynote to detail how Sun will focus on its core competencies to help grow the market and put itself "in the mix in the existing processes and community practices that take place--as that will help grow the market. We hope that Sun will be the company that brings Java and Web services to Linux, and Scott will share that vision," OBrien said.

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