New Linux-Solaris chief to be named

In the latest of a series of moves designed to refocus on its software offerings, Sun Microsystems is expected to announce Tuesday the appointment of former Sun Chief Marketing Officer John Loiacono to a new post managing Sun’s Linux and Solaris software.

Loiacono will report to new software chief Jonathan Schwartz and will be responsible for incorporating the Sun One software that currently runs on Solaris, with Linux.

Sun also made two strategic moves Monday to answer calls from its user base, by announcing the company’s first general-purpose server to run Linux and bringing back a version of its Solaris operating system that runs on Intel Corp. chips.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based hardware maker unveiled the Sun LX50 – a dual-processor thin server that runs the company’s new Sun Linux distribution of the Linux OS, said Peder Ulander, director of marketing at Sun. This system will start shipping at the end of this month and is the first non-appliance server from Sun to run Linux on chips from Intel. The vast majority of Sun’s servers use its own Solaris flavour of Unix on proprietary UltraSPARC processors.

Linux is not the only operating system that will run on the Sun LX50. The company also said it will support special versions of its Solaris 8 and the newly released Solaris 9 operating systems on the new Intel-based servers. This move reverses a decision made by Sun in January to not release Solaris 9 for Intel chips and to stop downloads of Solaris 8 that support the chips.

The Sun LX50 – code-named Big Bear – is targeted at a variety of edge of the network computing tasks such as file serving, print serving and caching files. The system will come bundled with a large software portfolio, including the Sun One Application Server, MySQL database, Sun Grid Engine software, Sun One Developer Studio, Sun ONE ASP (active server pages) and Sun Streaming Server software. The 1U-high server starts at US$2,795 with a 1.4GHz Pentium III processor, 512MB of memory, a 36GB SCSI disk and dual Ethernet ports. A higher-end system with dual 1.4GHz chips, 2GB of memory a 36GB SCSI disk and dual Ethernet ports will cost US$5,295, Ulander said.

Users will be able to order the server with either Sun Linux or the Solaris operating system. While Solaris 8 is supported on a wide range of Intel-based hardware, Sun will only support Solaris 9 on the new server. The decision to bring Solaris on Intel back came after months of lobbying by angered users. The company may eventually release a version of Solaris dubbed the Community Edition that users can contribute work to and that would run on a wider base of Intel hardware, according to sources.

Gary White, Sun product segment manager for volume system products in Toronto, said the company is mounting a strong play for Linux in the small- and medium-sized business (SME) space.

Software is an important part of Sun’s strategy White said, adding that Sun will control Linux on a distribution model, much like Solaris.

“The Linux that we have today is going to be stronger than the industry standard…couple that in with Solaris 9, which has been the gas or the horsepower behind Sun, there are certainly going to be many enhancement and interoperability that I think is really going to do us well,” White said.

White noted the LX50 takes a systems approach to the entry-level market, adding companies are “requiring industry-standard Linux in order to further grow their computing model.”

He added, “It really broadens our strength and our depth to reach customers that want to do Linux and want to have the best of Sun and also have the capability to migrate forward into Solaris if they should need that.”

Details can be found on the company’s Web site at

– With files from IDG News Service