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Sun shines light on Y2K bug

Sun Microsystems releases a Year 2000 compliance tool to help its customers assess the readiness of their computer systems.

Sun Microsystems today released a Year 2000 compliance tool to help its customers assess the readiness of their computer systems.

Free for download from Sun's Year 2000 Web site, SunScan 2000 is a validation tool that helps users identify Sun products running within an installation for Y2K compliance. The tool supports systems running Solaris 2.3 and higher.

"The tool reports back to the user a list of patches that will make the system compatible," said Anna Weldon, senior manager of marketing for the Year 2000 at Sun.

SunScan 2000 identifies Sun's hardware, operating environment, and middleware deployed in an enterprise by comparing the system against the lists of Sun products that have been tested for Year 2000 compliance. After the tool runs on the system in test mode, it reports back by listing patches needed to make the system Year 2000 compliant.

The new tool is designed for both system administrators and users and is available immediately on the Sun Y2K Web site. Y2K patches specifically for Sun products are also available at the site.

The new item represents the first auditing tool provided by the company for its customers, said Weldon.

"This tool allows you to look at the entire system and test our products for Y2K compliance," she noted.

The Y2K bug comes from antiquated hardware and software formats that denote years in two-digit formats, such as "98" for 1998 and "99" for 1999. The glitch will occur in 2000, when computers are either misled to understand the year as 1900 or interpret the 2000 as a meaningless "00." The glitch could throw out of whack everything from bank systems to oil manufacturing procedures, observers warn.

Yesterday, Microsoft said it is revamping its Y2K strategy by adding tools and services that will work to address six key "layers" of Y2K compliance: the BIOS/Real Time Clock, hardware, applications, documents, custom code, and data interface. The company also issued a patch to make its Windows 98 operating system Y2K compliant.

These efforts by Sun and Microsoft are, in part, a response to observers and industry analysts who have criticized major software and hardware vendors for not providing enough information on the Year 2000 compliance of their products.