Now that it is in control of its own Unix destiny, SunSoft forges ahead with unified Solaris 2.4 Now in control of all of its technology and pricing following its Unix source code buy-out from Novell Inc, SunSoft Inc last week announced its Solaris 2.4 revision for Sparc and iAPX-86 architectures, the first derived from […]
Now that it is in control of its own Unix destiny, SunSoft forges ahead with unified Solaris 2.4
Now in control of all of its technology and pricing following its Unix source code buy-out from Novell Inc, SunSoft Inc last week announced its Solaris 2.4 revision for Sparc and iAPX-86 architectures, the first derived from a single source tree, bringing the two implementations into sync and delivering symmetric multiprocessing support to its x86 customers. Solaris x86 (the last revision of which was version 2.1) gets all the stuff in 2.3, including support for up to 20 CPUs, X11.5, Adobe Display PostScript, cache file system, asynchronous point-to-point communications, access to the Live! multimedia suite and C2 security. New to both Sparc and iAPX-86 users are the XTL Teleservices component of Live! for creating integrated data and voice applications, a journalled file system for logging file updates, transparent overlays and graphical user interface-based installation. (To prove this last point, during the opening piece of theatre at the Developer conference, SunSoft president Ed Zander installed Solaris in 65 seconds). Early access copies are out this quarter (minus the journalled file system) with volume ships set for the third quarter. SunSoft claims 40% of the 1.6m installed base is now on Solaris 2.3. Sun’s own 22,000-strong network will all be Solaris 2.x by June, it says. It claims nearly 2,500 applications now up on Solaris 2.x, with 2,000 more coming. It says it has shipped some 30,000 units of Solaris x86 since it went on general release last July, 15,000 delivered in the first four-and-a-half months, 15,000 since. Not an amazing ramp-rate for the high-profile Unix-on-iAPX-86 gambit, but SunSoft says initial deliveries went to stock its shelves and those of its resellers and distributors and that most of the recent shipments have gone to end-users. And although it reckons it will soon begin to double its x86 run-rate quarter-on-quarter rather than every four or five months, it nevertheless felt it necessary to address a perceived weakness directly, stating that it is not dropping commitment to the iAPX-86 variant. As evidence it pointed to three new x86 wins – 8,800 users in one of Germany’s tax authorities, 1,700 units at Spanish bank Banco Sabadell, and others at the Australian Army. It says there are 850 applications now under x86, which it reckons are certified on 178-odd iAPX-86 systems. Oracle, Informix, Progress, Ingres and Interbase databases are all due on x86. Although Sun never missed a chance last week to talk up its vision of a TCP/IP-only future for the industry, it bowed to the inevitable and at the same time announced add-ons for Solaris that use Novell’s transport protocol, Internetwork Packet Exchange, rather than TCP/IP. Part of its source agreement with Novell paved the way for it to offer NetWare products on Solaris, SunSoft says, the first of which will be an IPX/SPX protocol stack that will enable NetWare 3 and 4 users to access information and services on Sparc-based Solaris hosts without Novell’s LAN WorkPlace TCP/IP host access software. It has licensed the stack from a NetWare clone vendor, but won’t say which. Out in the third quarter, the stack is $400. Support for Solaris x86 will follow. By the end of the year, SunSoft will also offer NetWare server services for Solaris, providing full NetWare-compatible file and print services on Solaris without any change in the Solaris desktop; and NetWare client services for Solaris, giving Solaris desktops full access to NetWare server resources.
Solaris for your business, Wabi for spreadsheet
The message is changing again, slightly. Sun used to say run your business on Solaris and your spreadsheet under Windows. Now Sun is saying run your business on Solaris and your spreadsheet under Wabi. The repaired Wabi, version 1.1, announced at the Developer Conference, will ship before the end of the month, free to new Solaris customers on return of a coupon. IBM, which has enhanced its own implementation with extended MS-DOS functionality,
and Hewlett-Packard Co, are expected to ship around the same time. SunSoft will include IBM’s MS-DOS features in the next version of Wabi it delivers. Wabi can be used for Windows emulation on SunSoft’s iAPX-86 Unix, but Sun recommends Locus Computing Corp’s Merge 3.1.1 system to Solaris x86 and Interactive Unix users for MS-DOS functionality. Merge, which actually runs MS-DOS and Windows code, will ship in 90 days at $300 on desktops, $500 for server versions. It appears there is still some work to do to get Wabi up to speed. Sun chief technology officer Eric Schmidt said it is working on users’ requests to have Wabi run applications no slower than on an 80486 machine. It currently still runs only 80386 Windows applications. SunSoft says that Excel 4.0, Word 2.0, Project 3.0, PowerPoint 3.0, 1-2-3 for Windows 1.1, AmiPro, WordPerfect 5.2 for Windows, CorelDraw, Aldus PageMaker, Quattro Pro for Windows 1.0, Paradox for Windows 1.0 and ProcommPlus for Windows will all run under Wabi, although Paradox and PowerPoint still require Windows 3.1.
Distributed Objects Everywhere gives Sun two-year lead
SunSoft brought the first incarnation of its NeXTstep-based object-oriented OpenStep environment to the conference as a starter kit for iAPX-86 systems which it was selling for $1,000 during the week – it’s $4,000 otherwise. SunSoft and NeXT boss Steve Jobs both claim there are other OpenStep licensees waiting in the wings, but could offer no names. The kit itself is little more than NeXTstep 3.2 and NeXTstep 3.2 Developer re-packaged with a manual telling developers which NeXTstep application programming interfaces and calls will be included in the version of OpenStep that is to feature in the Distributed Objects Everywhere environment, and which will be left out. NeXTstep, for instance, is built on the Mach microkernel rather than standard Unix, and uses NeXT Display PostScript: Distributed Objects Everywhere is a Solaris environment that uses X Display PostScript. However, SunSoft will add NeXTstep’s Mach fast Inter-Process Communication mechanism to Solaris for Distributed Objects Everywhere. The kit is essentially an evaluation system that SunSoft hopes will start interested independent software vendors on the Distributed Objects Everywhere track.
The Distributed Objects Everywhere roadmap has the first release of SunSoft’s object environment, due on Solaris for Sparc and iAPX-86, inked in for January 1995, putting it, in its estimation, at least a year or two ahead of object rivals Taligent or Cairo. As well as the DOE/OpenStep version of NeXTstep, a native Sparc Solaris implementation will be on offer, and even in Distributed Objects Everywhere, SunSoft will offer a choice of Common Desktop Environment or NeXTstep front-ends where needed. Distributed Objects Everywhere will offer full cut-and-paste and drag-and-drop between Common Desktop, OpenStep, OpenLook and Windows on the desktop. DOE 1 runtime features includes OpenStep, an the Object Group-compliant object request broker and services, support for C, C++ and Objective C and interoperability with the Iona Technologies Ltd Orbix ORB which runs under Windows NT, HP-UX, AIX, OSF/1 and other Unixes. Developers get a development environment, OpenStep interface builder, Interface Definition Language compilers for C and C++, object automatic code generator tools, a distributed debugger and object-based administration tool. A second Distributed Objects Everywhere release – enterprise-ready – including Corba 2 interoperability, enhanced database access and finer grained distribution is planned for early 1996. It is release 3 however, not due until 1997, that looks like the Real McCoy. Slated as software for the distributed enterprise it promises distributed objects that model the business, collaborative computing and applications on demand. SunSoft vice-president of object products Bud Tribble claims there will be several hundred applications available for OpenStep next year, and says he has 50 sites in the Distributed Object Council, developers a
nd end-users, evaluating early versions of Distributed Objects. Some pre-NeXT DOE application development environment effort is suspended, some goes forward. Jobs, also seeking an operating system-independent version of NeXTstep using OpenStep application programming interfaces, reckons there will be 100,000 OpenStep takers by year-end, 300,000 more by the end of next, and 500,000 during 1996. – William Fellows