Sun shines light on Solaris

Sun Microsystems Inc. has released the first beta of its Solaris 9 Developer Early Access Operating Environment software.

Using Sun’s Early Access (EA) program, the test version can be downloaded from the Internet and allows developers to test applications and evaluate the upcoming Solaris 9 operating environment.

The EA program is really aimed at getting the kernel of Solaris 9 to the expert developer community, said Bill Moffitt, core Solaris product line manager for Sun in Palo Alto, Calif.

Developers get an early chance to explore the new features in Solaris OE software, and it offers them a good way to ensure their existing Solaris OE applications will continue to run, Moffitt said. He added the beta version is without many of the features Sun plans to incorporate in the planned final release, due in the first half of 2002.

“In the first Early Access, the key improvement areas are primarily in the dimension of scaling. If you look at Solaris as kind of software plumbing underneath the applications, what we’ve tried to do is take a lot of the kinks out of the plumbing so the applications that run on top of it can run as fast as possible and can scale as linearly as possible.”

The test version features faster database back-up via a snapshot function, multiple page size support, a new Linux compatibility mode, and the Reconfiguration Coordination Manager Application Interface (RCM API). RCM API allows users to see what happens with a given application when partition and internal hardware changes are made on the fly.

Beta tester Ian Batten, an IT director at Fujitsu Telecommunications Europe Ltd. in Birmingham, England, has been impressed with the stability of the software so far.

“From a stability perspective, Sun is absolutely bomb proof,” Batten said.

Fujitsu still has applications running on a Solaris 7 beta and has not had the system crash in 1,000 days, Batten said. The company is ready to put an ERP application on a server running Solaris 9 beta.

Batten noted Sun tends to respond quickly to questions from customers working with the beta, which makes the software testing attractive.

“To have problems fixed quickly, or people we trust say, ‘That is not an OS issue but something you are doing,’ is a great help,” Batten said.

Although it is premature to speculate on the complete feature set until final release, Sun appears to be focusing on improving reliability, scalability, and uptime, said Tony Iams, senior analyst at research and consulting firm D.H. Brown Associates Inc. in Port Chester, N.Y.

“A lot of it has to do with the dynamic reconfiguration, which has actually been in Solaris even since Solaris 7,” Iams said. “It’s just that they’re making it more streamlined and more integrated into the OS and then making sure that it works correctly with all the system management tools and applications.”

With Solaris 9, Sun is responding to the needs of IT managers and system developers and reflects their drive to move up into higher-end type applications, Iams said.

“(Sun’s) approach has been to look at what the mainframe can do, and then make sure that they will be able to do all of those things eventually in Solaris.”

Sun Microsystems’ Solaris 9 OE Developer Early Access software, beta release, is available now via download from the company’s Web site at The final release of the Solaris 9 Operating Environment software is planned in 2002.

– with files from IDG News Service