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Sun Solaris upgrade snuggles with Linux

Turns desktops into thin clients

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Sun Microsystems upgraded the Solaris 10 operating system today, most notably enabling its OS to run Linux and its applications on x86 systems.

The company has also announced virtual desktop software that can transform desktops and laptops into thin client devices.

With the Solaris 10 8/07 update, Sun accommodates for the rival OS through a new package for Solaris Containers, a virtualization feature which enables multiple versions of Solaris to run on a single server. The update includes networking enhancements and an updated version of the open source PostgreSQL database, which sports a performance boost.

Formally dubbed "BrandZ in OpenSolaris", the newly incorporated Solaris Containers for Linux Applications lets users run Red Hat Enterprise, CentOS and Linux applications. Sun hopes the move will tempt the Linux crowd to migrate to their side of the field, and expects to support other LInux distributions in the future.

Solaris Containers can now also better manage its resources. Users will now be able to define how much memory and how many processors should be assigned to a particular application or container.

Each container will also receive its own IP stack, so users can track network traffic consumed by each container, rather than a broad server level. Sun said this will better enable an administrator to know if an application should be moved to a different server.

The update includes PostgreSQL 8.2 and better integration between the open source database and Solaris. The spec includes improved warm standby capabilities, online index builds and support for DTrace probes. The result is a 20 per cent improvement in online transaction processing, Sun says.

Virtual Desktop Software

In step with the VMworld show, which is running this week in San Francisco, Sun is previewing new virtual desktop software that can turn PCs into thin clients moving applications and the operating systems off desktops and mobiles into the data center.

Sun Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Software 1.0 (Sun VDI) is a platform for accessing virtualized Microsoft Windows desktop environments from a variety of devices. Coupled with VMware Infrastructure software, VDI consolidates desktops onto servers, giving each user a dedicated and isolated virtual machine.

According to Sun, each virtual desktop will function as though it runs directly on the user's computer, but with critical data residing in the data center. This guards against loss or theft — but Sun also reckons it's a way to reduce some of the running costs of the traditional desktop environment. For instance, the VDI software allows IT managers to set up new users and workgroups, and control and manage desktops and updates from a central location.

"The accelerated adoption of server virtualization has heightened awareness of the benefits of consolidating servers and IP in the datacenter, and has paved the way towards the adoption of a hosted and virtualized desktop model," said Marc Hamilton, veep of Solaris marketing at Sun.

The VDI software will be available in October, at a price of $149 per user, installable on Solaris and Linux. ®

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