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Opening Solaris

The Solaris 10 Pitch

  • September 15, 2005
  • By Martin C. Brown

My experience with the Solaris operating system goes back a long way--my first job was to migrate an old database system from a Digital Unix box to a new Sun unit. At the time, Sun were in the process of moving from BSD-based SunOS 4.x to the System V Release 4 (SVR4) based SunOS 5, more commonly called Solaris. Solaris 1 was the moniker given, retrospectively, to SunOS 4.1.3--the new SVR4 version was called Solaris 2.

We had one of the first Solaris 2-based workstations in the country at the time, and the database vendor came to our offices to port their application to the new OS. The effort was comparatively quick (they based their port on another SVR4 based Unix) and we continued to beta test and use the platform until I left.

More recently, and since I became a full-time consultant working for myself, I've been using a Solaris 8 (SunOS 5.8) system running on a dual-processor Pentium II system providing all of the email, web, Internet and network functionality for the network at the office. This unit has been incredibly reliable and was only decommissioned earlier this month. In fact, if we hadn't moved last year, the unit would have been running for over two-and-a-half years without a problem.

Solaris 10 was released in February 2005, although the pre-release had been around for some time. Solaris 10, like later versions before it, is supported on both SPARC and x86 architectures, and both 32-bit and 64-bit CPUs. Sun sell and support AMD Opteron based workstations and servers, such as the Sun v40z Server in addition to continuing to support UltraSPARC based processors. Solaris has been 64-bit capable since Solaris 7, originally available in 1998, and Sun therefore have a large volume of experience of working with 64-bit architectures.

Solaris 10 provides a number of new facilities over earlier versions, including Dynamic Tracing (DTrace), Solaris Containers and a brand new way of managing services that were traditionally controlled through the /etc/init.d and associated directories. To help prevent downtime, Solaris 10 also incorporates predictive self-healing, which becomes particularly useful on Sun hardware as it can identify underlying issues and even automatically disable components to prevent more problems occuring.

Solaris 10 is free, with no end-user restrictions, if all you want is a binary distribution of the Solaris operating system. More significantly though, from the perspective of the Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) community, is that Solaris 10 is also available in a open source version called OpenSolaris.

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