OpenSolaris Developer Preview Is Here

When I joined Solaris marketing 28 weeks ago, one of the first challenges I was given was to work with the OpenSolaris community to create a new binary distribution based on the OpenSolaris code base. Using a very unscientific process, we quickly established October 2007 as the target for first release. Credit to many Sun and non Sun OpenSolaris community members, there have been several distros based on the OpenSolaris code base since it was released more than two years ago. But this project was destined to be something different, thanks to the ideas of many legendary OS developers such as Debian founder Ian Murduck who by now you all know is working at Sun and one of the driving forces behind OpenSolaris.

Unlike Ian, a lot of very senior people at Sun told me point blank that there was no way we could release a major new OS distribution in 28 weeks. "Sun just can't move that fast", I heard, time and time again. Luckily a lot of Solaris engineering and marketing staff didn't listen. Of course, a lot of what was released today as the OpenSolaris Developer Preview was already under development within Sun before Ian joined and before I joined Solaris marketing. We just put the foot on the accelerator pedal a little. I simply don't have time or space to list the countless people who have sacrificed days and nights and weekends over the last six months to make today possible. But some of the key people certainly include:

  • Stephen Hahn and the IPS packaging team. People not familiar with operating system design may have no idea how important the packaging system is to an OS, but Stephen's work and that of the entire IPS packaging team forms the basis for what will allow OpenSolaris to be built, updated, added to, and maintained as a modern software environment for years to come. IPS sets a new standard that every future operating system on the planet will be measured against. IPS will let Sun support engineers understand exactly what code went into the release of Solaris you are using, even ten years down the road, should you need to place a support call on an old release (we actually do this today, but existing OS packaging methods make it much more time consuming and difficult to track contents of any particular OS release). IPS will also simplify adding new 3rd party functionality to a Solaris release via the network repository infrastructure, as well as independently update only certain parts of the OS via a much more flexible patching system.
  • Dave Miner and the install team. Those of you who have installed the latest Solaris Express Developer Edition already have experienced some of the new installer, but OpenSolaris Developer Preview is something even better. For starters, no need to install the entire 3.6 GB SXDE DVD. We managed to get OpenSolaris Developer Preview onto a good old fashion 650 MB CDROM. Not only that, the installer actually lets you run OpenSolaris without actually installing it, you can live boot from CDROM or for that matter from a USB memory stick. And of course the new installer works on top of ZFS, making package rollback, something every sys admin has spent a long weekend with backup tapes wishing they had, a powerful yet easy to use new feature.
  • David Comay and the Solaris Modernization Project team. David's project brings wide reaching changes to many parts of Solaris, from the Solaris desktop and GNU userspace, to a host of new device drivers and laptop support, to a killer new audio system based on the OpenSound standard that even Ian says blows away proprietary Linux audio implementations.

    Of course as hard working as the engineering team has been over the last six months, so too has the OpenSolaris marketing team, led by Sara Dornsife, been hard at work. I don't think Glynn Foster has slept in 4 days. And of course, Softwear Chic has been hard at work helping us think about our image.

    I know there are hundreds of others I have not mentioned, so thanks to all of you as well. So now its your turn. If you want to see what the future of operating systems is all about, download and try out the new OpenSolaris Developer Preview

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