Solaris Today and Tomorrow

Speaker Chris Ames


I sit here in the conference room waiting for attendees to arrive, and am introduced to people at Sun who are unfamiliar to me, as my world at Sun Microsystems has been entirely Java centric. The talk today I thought was entitled What Makes Solaris Interesting, only to discover that the talk title has changed to Solaris Today and Tomorrow. I like the first title better, as it directly addresses the question in my head about what does make the Solaris OS interesting? I'm fairly confident that question will be answered in the talk today.

Solaris techno-speak is as foreign to me as the Italino being spoken here in Roma, but I hope to come away knowing some Solaris details that have eluded me in the past. For me, the Solaris platform has been down the hall or up the stairs, sometimes on an entirely different campus from where I was used to working. Today I sit with Solaris experts, and am eager to hear what they have to say.

Chris Ames takes the stage, loaded with T-Shirts to throw to the audience and books to give away at the end. His enthusiasm for Solaris, especially the improvements now in Solaris 10, comes out clearly in his speech.

This is what I'm noticing in all of the Tech Days speakers, much enthusiasm, and a lot of expertise in their technical areas.

Where is the Money and Why Solaris

Chris says one of the most common questions aimed at him is "How does Sun make money out of free software?" Sun makes money through deployment and support of it's hardware and software. So why should anyone use Solaris and where can you run it?

The Solaris operating system has changed much in the last 25 years, and Solaris 10 brings many advanced features:

And he mentions repeatedly that it's free.

It's Not Just for Servers Anymore

Chris talked quite a bit about the growing popularity of the Solaris OS, and that fact that it runs not only on Spark or x86 machines, but also on AMD and Intel. In other words, Solaris is not just for high-end servers, but also developers on desktops and laptops. I found the latter particularly interesting.

Sun recognizes that developers tend to develop on desktops, and even more frequently on laptops, and then they deploy their applications to servers. I know as a writer for this is what we frequently hear from developers. But why would a Java developer want Solaris on their laptop? Apparently, tools and the Java platform run especially well in this OS environment mainly because both Java and Solaris were developed side by side within the same company. It hasn't been until recently, however, that developers could take Solaris seriously as an operating systems for their desktops and laptops.

Solaris Express Developer Edition is the software package designed especially for running desktops and laptops, and comes bundled with the NetBeans IDE and Glassfish, which provides the server you need to test your applications. In addition, it comes bundled with other applications, such as StarOffice 8 Office Suite, Firefox Browser, Mozilla Thunderbird email client, Xorg server 7.2, GNOME Desklets, a set of useful add-ons, such as clocks, calendars, newfeeds, music, weather, and so forth. I'm very much interested in learning more about the advantages to running this OS for Java developers.

The main problem for many is that not all the software we are used to using, which currently runs on Windows, is available for Solaris, but it was also pointed out to me that this is where the beauty of the Java application shines. As we see more applications written in the Java programming language, we see more applications that can run on Solaris, and there are a growing number of open source Java applications out there now that are suitable replacements for some of the other applications we're used to using for everything from word process to photography development.

Solaris Popularity and Improvements

Anyway, back to the talk. There are now 6.5 million cumulative licenses out there for Solaris, and big companies are now choosing Solaris over some other platforms. In addition, Sun now has partners, such as IBM to distribute the Solaris OS and Sun's support subscriptions. And Intel endorses OpenSolaris, open Java and NetBeans, and encourages ISV support for the Solaris OS.

After talking about the growing popularity of the Solaris OS, he went into many of the reasons why Solaris is gaining so much ground. Scaling across your infrastructure, both scaling up and scaling down is very important.

Solaris has support for MySQL, PHP, Python, and PostgreSQL. In addition, network performance has doubled since Solaris 8. Optimized small system performance has improved as well as well.

DTrace provides massive performance opportunities, and is designed for use in a production environment and especially for troubleshooting. Because of DTrace problems are solved in minutes, not days.

Solaris 10 also provides a revolutionary ZFS file system, which is a 128-bit file system that can store 18 billion times more data than previously.

In security, Solaris offers digital certificates everywhere, and a built-in firewall, eliminating the need to buy one separately. Management of user rights and process rights are secure by default.

Also, a web-based GUI tool for administration to manage the clusters has been added to make those tasks easier, and you get Sun Studio as well.

Much of the talk went over my head, but I hope the information here was helpful in at least pointing you in the right direction. I am especially interested in learning more about Solaris on the desktop and laptop, and how much this might improve the environment of Java developers.

For More Information

Learn more about this worldwide developer tour from the Tech Days website.

Dana Nourie
Sun Microsytems


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