Sun Launches Third Release of OpenSolaris

On the eve of its annual JavaOne Conference, Sun Microsystems unveiled a new version of the OpenSolaris operating system. Version 2009.06 is the third release of the open source implementation of the company's Unix-based operating system. The company launched OpenSolaris 2009.06 at CommunityOne, a three-day event which runs in conjunction with the week-long JavaOne conference.

The new release sports virtualization support, storage enhancements and performance upgrades, all of which should appeal to enterprise customers, Sun officials said, noting this release will impact all users of its Solaris operating system.

"OpenSolaris is the technology that's going into the next-generation Solaris platform," said Charlie Boyle, Sun's director of Solaris product marketing. "One of the great things about doing open development is that we're extremely transparent to our community and our users. If you're an end user of OpenSolaris or Solaris, you can see what we're building and then evaluate when you want to pick those new features."

Amid speculation about the future of Sun and Java, OpenSolaris may be the asset of the company that's least likely to be affected by its pending acquisition by Oracle Corp. Solaris in all its forms might be among the "safest" products in the company's catalog, said IDC analyst Al Hilwa. "There's no real overlap with anything that Oracle is doing. Oracle has a couple of fingers in the Linux pie, but so does Sun," he said.

Enterprise Features Added
The biggest change in this release is the addition of network virtualization technologies developed in Project Crossbow. The four-year-old project combines "the building blocks" of network virtualization and resource management by virtualizing the stack and Networked Information Center (NIC) around any networking service protocol or virtual machine.

Network virtualization presents virtual NICs inside the stack to any application or virtual machine, and connects them via virtual switches and network services. In OpenSolaris, this arrangement is called a "virtual wire" or vWire.

Crossbow effectively rebuilds the network stack for modern systems and use cases, according to Boyle. "All the vendors have continued to bolt on new technologies to their stacks over the years," he said. "But as we move into multi-threaded, multi-core systems, and 10- [and] 40-gigabit Ethernet, we have to rethink the way the network stack works."

Boyle maintained that this technology, which is built into the platform, has the potential to change software development. "As a developer, you can create a microversion on your laptop of the production environment in your datacenter," he said. "It's no longer that the developer is just off coding in some corner somewhere, thinking only about their applications. They can actually think about how their apps will be deployed and model that deployment during the development process. Then, they can take that model and move it to a bigger server for test and QA, then roll it out to multiple servers in your datacenter. The only thing you're changing is the size of the virtual machine."

What may interest developers most in this release is a Web-based tool set called SourceJuicer. SourceJuicer automates the OpenSolaris Image Packaging System (IPS) package build process. Developers submit code and a build manifest, and the tool validates that code, builds the app, packages it for both Sparc and x86 machines, and then publishes it into the OpenSolaris repository. Anyone running the OS will see the application in their search list.

Another feature, called Single Click Install, allows developers to publish a link on any Web site that leads to an automatic installation program directly from the repository. All updates to the software are automatically reflected in the IPS package manager.

Since the last update of OpenSolaris, more than 10,000 IPS packages have been added to the network repositories, Boyle said.

OpenSolaris 2009.06 also provides support in Sun's ZFS file system for flash storage. ZFS now understands the type of flash running on a system, and then optimizes the storage configuration automatically based on the workload and flash elements, Boyd said.

The new release adds native support for CIFS (Microsoft's Common Windows File System) as a full peer to Network File System (NFS). Sun said that will provide support for Windows security, naming and access control for file sharing across Windows, Linux and Solaris platforms.

OpenSolaris 2009.06 is available now for download here.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].

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