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November 28, 1993updated 06 Sep 2016 2:35pm


By CBR Staff Writer

SunSoft is near to harmonising Solaris for Sparc and Intel for the middle of 1994…

Releases of SunSoft Inc’s Solaris Unix operating system for Sparc and Intel Corp iAPX-86 architectures, currently staggered with the Intel variant produced out of Sparc source code, will be synchronised by the middle of next year, with Solaris 2.4 released simultaneously for both central processing unit environments. Apparently, a merged source code implementation was successfully achieved last month. The group is also understood to be preparing a cut-down version of Solaris for Sun Microsystems Inc’s nomadic workstation currently known as Gypsy, which is expected next February, though it’s not inconceivable that it could use the Tadpole Technology Plc implementation featured on that company’s SparcBook notebooks.

…as it presses on with its OEM campaign…

With Amdahl Corp now riding the Sun Microsystems Inc OEM bandwaggon – it has already shipped SparcCenter 2000s running Solaris – SunSoft is pressing on with its encirclement of the Fujitsu Ltd camp. Vice-president of product marketing Jim Billmaier believes that with some 80% of the Japanese company’s Unix effort now tied up in systems running Solaris, it is becoming their [Fujitsu’s] strategic operating system. A deal for Solaris x86 for the Intel Corp environment, he admits, has yet to be signed, but he indicated that such an agreement might not be far off. Fujitsu’s ICL Plc subsidiary is a known object of SunSoft’s desire in this latest trawl for OEM customers, but the UK company, which manufactures its own Sparc-based servers, has proved unwilling, so far, to play ball, insisting that Novell Inc’s UnixWare is its chosen path. ICL insists that Fujitsu too, is committed to the System V.4 brand of Unix now owned by Novell, and that it is working, in conjunction with its Japanese parent, to extend the functionality of System V.4.2 on the Sparc processing unit. Billmaier said he couldn’t imagine why any firm would want to put UnixWare up on Sparc and didn’t know why they [ICL] were doing it, suggesting that further discussions between Fujitsu, ICL and itself are required. The picture is further complicated by an arrangement between Amdahl, ICL and Fujitsu to develop a common Unix application environment for their respective Sparc architectures. This was signed before Amdahl went over to Solaris. SunSoft maintains that Amdahl was to have led the operating system arm of that effort, the future of which now seems somewhat unclear given Amdahl’s conversion to Solaris and its commitment to co-developing mainframe functionality for it in conjunction with SunSoft. Where vendors can go for their future high-end Unix requirements remains a question that only SunSoft itself seems able to answer at the moment.

…and wins Unisys for Solaris x86

SunSoft Inc has snared another OEM customer for its Solaris x86 implementation of Unix for Intel Corp iAPX-86 systems in the form of Unisys Corp. The Bluebell, Pennsylvania-based mainframer will offer Solaris alongside Unix System V.4, UnixWare and the other variants that it supports on its U 6000 series 80486- and Pentium-based systems, initially the U6000/DT desktop and the uniprocessor 100 and 300 models. The desktop version of Solaris starts at $800, the workgroup server version at $2,000. SunSoft claims to have shifted 15,000 licences in the four and a half months that Solaris x86 has been shipping.

Wabi Version 2 to be out by the second quarter of 1994

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Version 2.0 of SunSelect’s Wabi Microsoft Corp Windows-under-Unix emulation software, which is expected to address most of the problems associated with the initial version, will be released at the end of the second quarter of next year. Version 1.0, shipping to OEM customers since August, requires certain Microsoft Windows code modules to run Borland International Inc Quattro Pro 1.0 and Microsoft Powerpoint 3.0, including Dynamically Linked Libraries and Object Linking & Embedding. Eleven other applications do not require Windows 3.1 at all, though Wabi doesn’t support stuff like Wind

ows Help and doesn’t come with a File Manager or Minesweeper. It doesn’t, and wasn’t intended to, run MS-DOS applications. Wabi is a binary run-time application programming interface-level Windows translator, with an Intel Corp iAPX-86 emulator kicking in where necessary – not a copy or a complete replacement for it. SunSelect, which has emphasised the importance of not needing a Microsoft Windows licence, says version 2.0 will come with Dynamic Link Library emulation and will be compatible with Novell Inc’s NetWare – this will enable users to access files and disks – NetBIOS, WinSock and WinHelp. A 32-bit version of Wabi will also be launched next year, along with a multimedia subset that’s under development as well.

Sun’s FirstPerson seen working on interactive TV operating system

Sun Microsystems Inc’s secretive new subsidiary, FirstPerson Inc, is believed to have a consumer electronics operating system up its sleeve that is suitable for interactive television and digital multimedia entertainment services. FirstPerson’s development efforts are so far understood to encompass an object-oriented distributed operating system, which is based on a real-time microkernel with light-weight threads and fast context switches, an objective language, run-time package and interpreter.

SunSoft hedges personal computer compatibility bets with Locus Merge that looks like Wabi snub

SunSoft Inc has concluded a deal with Locus Computing Corp for the Inglewood, California company’s Merge PC Windows- and MS-DOS-under-Unix environment, which it plans to offer to Solaris x86 and Interactive Unix users. SunSoft’s move looks ostensibly like a snub to its SunSelect cousin’s Wabi Windows-under-Unix system, which SunSoft is bundling with Solaris for Sparc and Solaris x86. However, while SunSoft vice-president of marketing Jim Billmaier agrees there is some overlap between the two – both run Windows 3.1 applications – he argues they are complementary, as Merge also supports MS-DOS and DR DOS as well as MS-DOS VGA applications in full screen mode. The difference between them is that Merge actually runs Windows and MS-DOS, while the X Window-based Wabi does not. SunSoft says it is shipping Wabi with Solaris until the end of December and will only then decide whether to offer the system bundled or unbundled with its operating system.

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