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User fury as Sun puts x86 Solaris to sleep

Cost cutting to blame

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Sun is putting the Intel version of its Solaris Unix OS in the deep freeze, citing support and development costs as the reason. There won't be an x86 version of Solaris version 9 this year, but Sun will support existing versions for seven years, Solaris marketing director Graham Lovell told IDGyesterday. More charitably - or gullibly if you're being cruel - CNet interpreted the same news as a "delay".

But as you know, the body's metabolism can be fatally impaired by spending too long in the cold, and no version 9 this year effectively means the end of Solaris on x86.

It's been maintained at great expense over the past nine years, and only last October was refreshed with USB support, for example. But Sun has only ever seen a miniscule market share as a reward, and of course precisely no downstream hardware revenue, because Sun doesn't sell Intel servers.

And the expenses keeps piling up. Just ask Be, Inc. There are more chips and chipsets to support than ever before, and Foster, and the SMT Foster, and AMD's Athlon XP, and Athlon SMP and Sledgehammers either here or on their way.

However, users on the busy Solaris on Intel mailing lists were not happy bunnies last night, pointing out that the x86 version maintains mindshare and offers a cheap way to bring new recruits into the Sun fold.

"You've killed the dream, Sun. New admins *DON'T* have a way to learn about Sun on the cheap," wrote one user.

"Mindshare is a terrible thing to waste," punned another. "It's expensive to develop, hard to measure and difficult to correlate to earnings, yet very important to long term success. This will be the biggest casualty if Solaris x86 is abandoned."

And there's already a "Save Solaris on x86" page up and running. Or at least there was, until somebody interfered with it. We'll repost the link when it's fixed.

Last post, First post!
All in all, it's a minor historic decision by Sun as it leaves no proprietary Unix left in active development on Intel hardware.

SCO's OpenServer has been in maintenance mode for some years, and the best parts of its UnixWare OS seemed to fall out of the removal van over the Sierras, as the OS made its journey from Santa Cruz to Utah, en route to its new owners Caldera. They hardly ever mention it now.

So if you want a Unix on x86, you have a choice between the free BSDs or Linux. Slashdotters rejoice. We just hate to see any good, cheap and well-supported OS bite the dust. ®

Related Links

The Solaris on Intel mailing list
Sun's Solaris for Intel home page
The great Solaris on Intel FAQ

Reducing security risks from open source software

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