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Sun advances Solaris for Intel

The company takes additional steps in its effort to increase the hardware support that's needed to make a version of its Solaris operating system for Intel processors useful.

Sun Microsystems has taken additional steps in its effort to increase the hardware support that's needed to make a version of its Solaris operating system for Intel processors useful.

The company began a promotion this week to encourage individuals to run tests that certify that Solaris works with hardware from different manufacturers. It also signed on some new corporate partners.

Sun is offering a free 64MB USB memory device to those who take the time to run the certification tests and submit results to the company, said Ann Wettersten, vice president of systems software product marketing.

The tests involve a free software kit Sun released in May that ensures that hardware such as a CD-ROM drive, network adapter or full system works with the operating system.

More than 100 systems are now certified to work with Solaris, including 32 desktops or servers and 69 laptops.

Among the newer systems certified to work with the OS is and MPC's NetFrame 1610.

Sun also signed on new partners, including Electronic Business Solutions, which sells Hewlett-Packard's ProLiant line of Intel-based servers, and Xoriant, a services and consulting company that can now help customers certify their products with Solaris, Wettersten said.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based computer maker has historically focused on selling servers that use its UltraSparc processors and the corresponding version of Solaris. But beginning in 2002, it began selling Intel-based systems, and this year it will sell some systems that use AMD chips. At the same time, Sun has been reviving a version of Solaris for these so-called x86 chips.

Sun currently has more than 1,000 software applications that are certified to work with the x86 version of Solaris; has reseller relationships with CDW, PC during in the last four months, Wettersten said.

However, Linux is presently more popular than Solaris for those who want to run a Unix-like operating system on Intel hardware, analysts say. Even among those who buy Sun's Intel servers, Linux is more popular than Solaris on its Intel-based servers, said Neil Knox, head of Sun's lower-end server group.

Sun has signed agreements with Linux sellers SuSE and Red Hat.