Sun releasing OpenSolaris tech via open source

Sun Microsystems Inc. on Tuesday is releasing a slate of technologies as part of OpenSolaris, the open source version of the Solaris 10 operating system.

Technologies including the kernel and networking software will be available for free usage under Sun’s Community Development and Distribution License, said Tom Goguen, vice president for platform software at Sun.

The kernel includes features such as predictive self-healing and Solaris containers for isolating an application within the operating system. Also part of the release are system libraries and commands.

Users can download source code, combine it with their own source code and make commercial products out of it. “It’s a completely royalty-free open source product,” Goguen said.

“Our goal is to increase and really drive up the ecosystem around Solaris,” said Goguen.

“It’s going to be a full, buildable environment. That’s perhaps the key thing,” Goguen said.

OpenSolaris will run on Intel x86 and 64-bit AMD Opteron systems as well as on Sun’s Sparc hardware. Sun hopes to leverage the operating system by offering support packages. The company also is hopeful that seeding the market with OpenSolaris will boost demand for its portfolio of other products, Goguen said.

Asked if Sun was releasing Solaris to open source because of competitive pressure from the open source Linux platform, Goguen responded that Sun itself was started more than 20 years ago through open source technology — BSD Unix.

“[BSD Unix developer] Bill Joy, who was one of the founders of the company, arguably could be considered one of the founders of open source software,” Goguen said.

“We’re the second largest contributor of open source software to the community [behind the University of California] and [on Tuesday] we’ll step up and be the largest contributor of open source software,” Goguen stated.

There are markets underserved by Linux, which lacks the functionalities of Solaris such self-healing and dynamic tracing, Goguen said. Solaris also offers functionality such as high-end symmetric multiprocessing, and that is lacking in Linux, he said. Additionally, Solaris offers advantages in addressing multicore chips, he said.

“Red Hat’s [Linux] offering is incapable of scaling as well as Solaris today,” Goguen said. Sun with open source Solaris hopes to stem defections to Linux, said analyst Gordon Haff, senior analyst at Illuminata.

“In terms of being sort of the mass-market alternative to Linux, that doesn’t seem likely to happen anytime soon. But I think Sun’s real focus here is more on its customer base and developer community that are still in the Solaris camp,” Haff said.

The move is not likely to attract Windows users because Windows is quite a different system from Solaris, Haff said.

Sun still will offer the commercial version of Solaris, but future commercial releases will be based on the development going on as part of OpenSolaris, Goguen said.

Sun made the dynamic tracing feature of Solaris, known as DTrace, available through open source in January. Some administrative and install technologies will be kept out of the OpenSolaris release on Tuesday. Sun still must perform due diligence to ascertain that there are no third-party encumbrances pertaining to any of the code, according to Goguen. OpenSolaris will be available at .

The OpenSolaris Project plan also calls for future releases of test suites, a tool to manage bug and patch submissions, a code management solution, and design documents.

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