Users get Solaris 8 preview

Sun Microsystems is prepping users for a major upgrade to the next version of its Solaris operating system.

The company last week announced a Solaris 8 early access program that lets users purchase advance copies of the operating system for $US19.95. The software will be generally available in February.

The 64-bit Solaris 8 is the latest iteration of Sun's popular Unix environment, and the only version that will run on Sun's next-generation UltraSPARC III microprocessor-based servers, which are slated to hit the market in the second half of next year.

Users who want to upgrade to the new hardware will have to move to the new operating system. That's part of why Sun is eager to get early copies of Solaris 8 into users' hands, said Tony Iams, an analyst at DH Brown Associates.

"Sun is making sure that users have no problems running their applications on Solaris 8. They want to be able to identify any issues as quickly as they can," Iams said.

Solaris 8 will feature several mainframe-like capabilities that should further extend its influence in the high-end server space, Iams added. New features include the following:

Support for jobs, project and accounting capabilities that give administrators a detailed accounting on server usage.

A reconfiguration manager that lets administrators automate allocation of resources based on preset policies.

A live upgrade capability that lets users upgrade portions of a partitioned server without bringing the whole box down.

A "hot patch" feature that lets managers apply patches when the system is running.

Support for the IPv6 Internet standard.

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