Sun Microsystems Inc is to offer internet appliances that corporate customers such as media or financial services companies can customize and brand as their own offerings. The Persona message collection device for small businesses and technically savvy home users which Sun showed at last week’s Demo ’98 event could, Sun said, be configured with specific functionality and run a bespoke set of applications and user interfaces and sold as the New York Times news box or Charles Schwab personal investment system. It’s got several hundred of the devices out with partners and at focus groups looking at the functionality and the way they might be what Sun calls stamped for individual corporate identity. Persona is built around a MicroSparc IIep RISC CPU. It includes 16Mb RAM; 1.3Gb disk; two 56Kb flash modems; infra-red transmitter/receiver; speakers; four-port Ethernet controller which connects Persona to other devices in the home; a serial port; and four XT10 controllers – for turning lights on and off. Persona – which Sun describes as a Java Internet Server – uses the company’s Jeeves Java-based internet server software running atop Wind River Systems Inc’s VxWorks embedded operating system – not, it may be noted, Sun’s own Chorus OS embedded system software. Third party applications written to the Jeeves APIs will run on Persona. Sun is writing a document that it says will detail how applications can interface with the modems. In addition to acting as a cache or proxy server for web and ftp services – it can download and store messages received overnight – Persona can also be operated remotely from a touch tone phone. It offers a full complement of typical server-based functions, incuding those which go by the acronyms DHCP, SMB, PPP and DNS. Persona’s design was apparently nailed down well before Sun’s acquisition of internet appliance design shop Diba Inc. It’s not, the company says, a chopped down JavaStation but an entirely new design out of its internet hardware group. Sun says Data General Corp’s own ThiinLine ‘nub’ server for homes and small offices is single-application wireless router rather than a muti-purpose device like Persona.