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November 3, 1999

Sun Releases Early Access Solaris 8

By CBR Staff Writer

Sun Microsystems Inc is to give users early access to its next Unix operating system, Solaris 8, by offering an Early Access package for $20. The package, which includes the software, a free license, full documentation and other tools such as the StarOffice productivity software, is effectively the second beta of Solaris 8. It is released on November 27th, with the final version is due out in February,. At around the same time Microsoft Corp’s rival Windows 2000 operating system, the successor to NT 4, is to be officially released.

Solaris 8 includes support for the next-generation internet protocol IPV6, which supports an infinite number of internet addresses. This will become more immediately important in Europe and Asia than in the US, because of the popularity of online cellphones and other handheld IP devices. IPV4 can be made to run alongside IPV6, for an easier transition. It also includes a live upgrade feature, so that Solaris 8 can be installed on a separate partition on a server, enabling Solaris 2.6 or 7 system to be upgraded with only a few minutes downtime, and with the option of fallback to the previous version.

Other features include support for dynamic reconfiguration of SCSI devices, a policy-based dynamic reconfiguration manager, hot patching for adding kernel patches and workarounds without bringing down the system, role-based access management and e-commerce tools. Real-time performance has also been speeded up so that the system can be used to run applications such as manufacturing control systems.

Support for eight-way nodes within clusters will emerge after the initial February release, but Sun says the 64-bit Solaris already supports limitless scalability. Sun itself currently supports Solaris on 64-way symmetrical multi-processing systems, and promises further hardware launches beyond that.

Sun says that something like 90% of existing Solaris applications are fully binary compatible with Solaris 8, and offers an application certification tool, AppCert, for testing purposes. It offers Oracle 8 as an example of a major application running on Solaris 8 that required no changes. Solaris 8 will be released as a series of six CDs, including the core software, installation, AppCert binary verification and language CDs. A minimum system will fit into a few hundred megabytes, while a complete system will need 1Gb.

Sun says feedback from users of the Early Access version will be welcome, but says it’s confident of the stability of the system already, having run it through a platinum beta testing program of 300 stress-testing environments. The beta 2 version is almost ready, but not labeled for general availability or supported as such. Users want access to the system for early testing, says Sun.

Separately, Sun announced the availability of Trusted Solaris 7, the follow-on to Trusted Solaris 2.5.1, bringing 64-bit capabilities and support for the Sparc and Intel architectures to Trusted Solaris, including the Sun Enterprise 10000 Server. Trusted Solaris is sold to commercial banking and finance companies, and for government applications. The new version maintains binary compatibility with the older 32-bit version, and adds support for Sun’s PCI hardware architectures and new transmission mediums, such as ATM, FDDI, Token Ring and Gigabit Ethernet.

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