Sun and Dell have reached an agreement that will allow Dell to offer Sun's Solaris operating system on its PowerEdge servers.

The deal was announced at the Oracle OpenWorld conference when Dell CEO Michael Dell made a surprise appearance during a keynote speech by Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, to announce the signing of a multi-year distribution and reseller agreement that will let Dell provide Solaris on selected PowerEdge servers.

Schwartz said that Sun has reached a "different phase" in its history and is now more interested in establishing the largest Solaris customer base possible rather than cutting off support to customers running the operating system on non-Sun hardware.

"The stupidest thing in the world we could have done is gone to those [Solaris] customers and say, 'You blew it; you made a mistake.' And they could have looked at us and said, 'No you don't understand me,'" said Schwartz.

After an acrimonious past littered with years of head-to-head hardware sales battles between Sun and Dell, Schwartz remarked that "history is behind us, and today is proof."

According to Schwartz, the agreement will let Dell technicians respond to customers calls for Solaris 10 support. He said that Sun will work directly with Dell personnel to "seamlessly" push updated patches or bug fixes out to the PowerEdge install base when necessary.

"We heard from customers [who] wanted us to provide better support for Solaris so that's exactly what we're going to do," Dell added.