Sun Microsystems Thursday officially extended its server operating system to x86-based servers with the release of its Solaris 9 x86 Platform Edition.
The long awaited release builds on the beta version available since November 2002. This variation of Sun's core OS allows servers to run on non-Sun processors such as ones made by Intel and AMD.
The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company also said its Solaris strategy going forward "guarantees customer continuity and global support for UNIX on its entire line of both SPARC and x86 systems, and on third party x86 systems."
Like its SPARC counterpart, the Solaris 9 for x86 includes Sun ONE Directory Server 5.1, SunScreen 3.2 software, Solaris Volume Manager, support for IPv6 and Secure Shell. In addition, the new edition bundles the Solaris 9 Resource Manager for free.
The Free Solaris Binary License Program for non-commercial use and used by non-profit organizations is available at no charge, while commercial pricing starts at USD$99. Sun said it is offering special deals on OEM licensing.
For developers, Sun said it is now releasing the source code for this version of Solaris. The company worked with more than 600 partners on the project. Sun said it also offers Linux compatibility at both source and binary levels with programs like Developer Technical Support and the Developer Essentials software subscription program.
Sun said it is shipping x86 in entry-level systems that include a Solaris OS license such as its LX50 server.
Save-Solaris-x86 spokesperson John Groenveld says he is ecstatic with the release.
"The customer community has invested a lot time and money to help Sun's senior management to see the errors of its ways, to get Solaris x86 resurrected, and to empower the engineers and low and mid level managers who have always wanted to do the right thing, Groenveld told internetnews.com. "Sun has a lot more work to do to strengthen its partnership with community. Should Sun falter or diverge from the right path its currently on, we'll be first to let Sun's stockholders know about it."
The debate came to a boiling point last year, when members of Solaris-x86.ORG fired off an open letter to Sun CEO Scott McNealy blasting him and the company for waffling on the decision to support x86 architectures. The issue was resolved in August 2002 when Sun said it would support Solaris 9 on Sun x86 hardware for its LX50 server.
Now Sun says it has bigger fish to fry targeting the Microsoft users it says are paying too much for compatible systems.
The company estimates its systems cost 15 times less than a two-way Web server configuration of the Microsoft Windows 2000 Server.
"With the evolving functionality of the Java platform and Sun ONE portfolio, Sun now stands alone in redoubling its commitment to UNIX and in lowering costs and increasing security in a tight spending environment," Sun executive vice president Jonathan Schwartz said in a statement.
On the hardware side, Sun is expected to debut a Sun Fire Unix server that comes in four- to 12-way configurations on Monday February 10. According to published reports, the mid-range server identified as the "v1280" is powered by the company's 64-bit 900MHz UltraSparc III chip.