Sun, IBM ink OS agreement

Longtime rivals IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. have signed an agreement related to operating systems technologies, the two companies said Wednesday.

Neither IBM nor Sun offered any details on the announcement, set to be disclosed during a Thursday morning conference call, except to say that it concerns an "operating system agreement."

Sun has only one operating system technology: Solaris. The company has been trying to promote Solaris as an open alternative to Linux, whose popularity severely cut into Sun's bottom line in the early part of this decade. But Sun has so far failed to rally much support from rival server vendors like IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. or Dell Inc.

Sun President and CEO Jonathan Schwartz and IBM hardware group chief Bill Zeitler will host the call, indicating that IBM may be ready to support Solaris on its Intel-based line of servers, which it calls System x and BladeCenter systems.

In fact, IBM has listed Solaris as one OS option for System X and BladeCenter systems on its Web site since May, according to the Internet Archive Web site.

It's a big step for IBM, since the company has historically been a major proponent of Linux.

The company, however, also sells the Windows OS on its Intel systems.

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