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News, tips, partners, and perspectives for the Oracle Solaris operating system

  • December 22, 2017

Oracle Solaris Support in Emulation

Scott Lynn
Director of Product Management GraalVM

I've been getting many questions about running Oracle Solaris on emulated environments.

I want to answer those questions and give you unambiguous answers here so that you can make the best purchasing decisions possible.

Let's start with the Oracle Solaris license.

If you purchase an Oracle system, Oracle grants you a license to use the version of Oracle Solaris that came pre-installed on that system. If the system didn't come pre-installed, Oracle grants you the right to download the version that is currently available off of Oracle E-Delivery at the time you receive the system.

That license, however, is non-transferable.

You'll notice that the license document says, "...limited license to use the Programs only as pre-installed..." This includes if you had to download it from Oracle E-Delivery. It then says, "All rights not expressly granted above are hereby reserved." This ties the license to the system, as the right to copy it to another system isn't specifically stated above.

So, if you have a copy of Oracle Solaris running on a system today, you cannot shutdown that system, install Oracle Solaris on another system and carry that license over to the new system. The license doesn't transfer.

You should also have noticed that the license applies only to the original user (that is the original purchaser) of the computer equipment. This means that if you purchase used equipment from some entity that isn't Oracle, you have no license to use Oracle Solaris on that system because you aren't the "original user."

So, how do you get a license to run Oracle Solaris on a new non-Oracle system or a used Oracle (Sun) system? You purchase Oracle Solaris Support. For used Oracle SPARC and Oracle x86 systems, you can purchase Oracle Premier Support for Systems, after hardware re-certification, or Oracle Solaris Premier Support (or for Oracle Solaris 10, Extended Support beginning February 1, 2018) for Operating Systems. For non-Oracle hardware systems, you can purchase Oracle Solaris Premier Support for Non-Oracle Hardware. All of our support offerings include a license to use Oracle Solaris as well as access to the latest Oracle Solaris patches and updates for that version of Oracle Solaris.

That will give you a right to use Oracle Solaris on the new/used system.

Now, let's talk about emulation.

Oracle doesn't certify Oracle Solaris in emulated environments. You can read more about that in MOS Document ID 2341146.1.

Here are the important details from that document on Oracle Solaris Support in emulated environments:

Oracle has not certified Oracle Solaris on emulated environments (neither SPARC nor x86 emulation). Oracle Support will assist customers running Oracle Solaris on these environments in the following manner: Oracle will only provide support for issues that either are known to occur on the bare metal, or can be demonstrated not to be as a result of running on a emulated environment.

If a problem is a known Oracle issue, Oracle support will recommend the appropriate solution on the native OS. If that solution does not work in the emulated environment, the customer will be referred to the emulation environment vendor for support. When the customer can demonstrate that the Oracle solution does not work when running on the bare metal, Oracle will resume support, including logging a bug with Oracle Development for investigation if required.

If the problem is determined not to be a known Oracle issue, we will refer the customer to the emulation environment vendor for support. When the customer can demonstrate that the issue occurs when running on the bare metal, Oracle will resume support, including logging a bug with Oracle Development for investigation if required.

So, if you encounter a problem running Oracle Solaris in an emulated environment, the extent of support will be to recommend any known fixes for what it looks like the problem might be, or if the problem isn't a known problem, to request you recreate the problem on a bare-metal system.

Finally, if you choose to run Oracle Solaris in an emulated environment on a Non-Oracle server, Oracle Solaris for Non-Oracle hardware is licensed by the server not by any configuration of the emulation software. The number of sockets in the server determines the pricing. All sockets (even unpopulated sockets) must be accounted for in determining the per-socket pricing for a server.

So, to summarize, Oracle Solaris licenses aren't transferable, you can get a license to run Oracle Solaris on non-Oracle hardware or on used Sun/Oracle hardware by purchasing support, and if you attempt to run Oracle Solaris in an emulated environment, any not currently known problems will need to be recreated on a bare metal system before we can diagnose the problem.

Given all that, it's likely easier and cheaper (yes, I said cheaper) to continue running any workloads you are considering moving to an emulated environment by upgrading to a new Oracle SPARC S7, T8, M8 or M12 system.

I hope this helps clear up your questions about Oracle Solaris licensing and support in an emulated environment.

Disclaimer: This document is for educational purposes only and provides guidelines regarding Oracle's policies in effect as of December 1st, 2017. It may not be incorporated into any contract and does not constitute a contract or a commitment to any specific terms. Policies and this document are subject to change without notice. This document may not be reproduced in any manner without the express written permission of Oracle Corporation.

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Comments ( 3 )
  • Tracy Wednesday, January 31, 2018
    So is it illegal to download solaris 11 from the public facing web site and install on a used oracle server? Because that sounds like what you are saying in this article.
  • Scott Lynn Wednesday, January 31, 2018
    Hi Tracy,
    It's not illegal to download Oracle Solaris from OTN and use it on a used Sun/Oracle server. However, the OTN license limits you to non-production use. Specifically, the license says:
    You may not:

    - use the Programs for your own internal business purposes (other than developing, testing, prototyping and demonstrating your applications) or for any commercial or production purposes;

    To use Oracle Solaris on a used system for production or commercial use, you need to purchase a support contract from Oracle.
  • Dimitar Traichev Wednesday, March 6, 2019
    Dear Mr. Lynn,

    I see that you have deep knowledge in Oracle Solaris licensing. I have a specific question, on which I hope to find an answer.
    If I have a used SPARC server and I don't want a hardware support form Oracle, can I purchase ONLY "Oracle Solaris Premier Support for Operating Systems" WITHOUT "Hardware re-certification".

    Best Regards
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