Sun is targeting UK small and medium-sized businesses with a new Linux-based server package that it claims offers an alternative to much higher-priced systems from Microsoft and Novell. The server is part of Sun's attempt to use its relatively recently-acquired open-source software, and Intel-based hardware, to appeal to entry-level businesses on a tight budget. Sun's theory is that these customers may later upgrade to Sun's more lucrative UltraSparc-based systems running Solaris. Sun's Small Office Solution (SOS), which launched in the UK last week, consists of the Sun LX50 entry-level server, a dual 1.4GHz Intel processor-based box, with several third-party applications running on top of Sun's own Linux distribution. The software is designed to integrate with clients such as Microsoft's Outlook, so that customers can stick with client-end software they already know, if they choose. The software built into SOS includes Sun's own StarOffice productivity suite, Weblicon's Calmeno server software for messaging and information management, Tarantella's software for Web-based access to applications, and MySQL for handling databases. "You can already get these products separately, but we have pulled it together and given it a lot of integration testing," said Sun marketing manager Karen Scott. The box is also designed to be configured and maintained by companies that don't necessarily have any IT staff, through a simple Web-based interface. Through this interface, an administrator can set up features such as internal email accounts and Web-based access to email, calendars and address books, without any technical knowledge. "We are getting demand from customers to have an alternative to Microsoft and Netware. They want to see what else is out there to run their businesses on. Now we've got the products to be able to offer them something," said Steve Raby, Sun's director of partner sales in the UK. The £8995 (plus VAT) system has been integrated for the UK market by Clarity Technology, which will handle technical support for all of the SOS applications, and will sell through the channel. Licences are for up to 50 users.