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OpenSolaris

History

Solaris is Sun's UNIX-based operating system, and was originally based on System V Release 4 (SVR4). Internally, a Solaris release, x, corresponds to a 5.x release of SunOS, earlier versions of which were instead based on BSD. The Solaris name is used to represent the entire distribution (including the windowing environment and other tools), so SunOS is effectively part of Solaris and can still be seen in the logon banner and uname output of current Solaris releases.

On June 14, 2005, Sun released the source code for Solaris under the Common Development and Distribution License. The code released was a current snapshot of the Solaris development tree, and as result was based on Solaris 10 with the addition of new development work eventually intended for Solaris 11. There is no open source release corresponding to the exact code released for Solaris 10. Solaris 10 still remains as a zero-cost download from Sun and will continue to be developed as Sun's supported operating system, with future releases being based on the code for OpenSolaris with proprietary additions. A similar relationship exists between OpenOffice.org and StarOffice, and between the JDK releases and OpenJDK.

Obtaining OpenSolaris

In the same vein as for the GNU/Linux operating system, different distributions exist of OpenSolaris. Some of the main ones are as follows:

  • Solaris Express Community Edition ('Nevada'): This is Sun's unsupported binary release of OpenSolaris, consisting of a build of the OpenSolaris code base plus additional proprietary material. A new version is made available every Friday. Every three or four months, a supported release called the Developer Edition is made available, based on Nevada. The current such release is 01/08. Eventually, this will become the next Solaris release. The CD/DVD is installation only.
  • OpenSolaris Developer Preview (Project Indiana): This is the main Sun supported release of OpenSolaris (as opposed to Solaris releases, which contain both OpenSolaris and proprietary code) and is still in development. The first release is expected in April 2008, but a current preview release may be downloaded now. The project is headed by Ian Murdoch, of Debian fame, and is an attempt to build a similar updatable binary distribution of OpenSolaris. The CD is a 'live' CD that you can boot up and play with, with the option of installing using the 'slim' installer, should you so wish.
  • Nexenta: This is effectively GNU/Solaris. It is based on the Debian/Ubuntu distribution of GNU/Linux, but is built around the OpenSolaris kernel rather than Linux. This means that unlike the Solaris distributions listed above, it has the more usual GNU userland tools as standard (bash, gcc, coreutils), whereas they are either secondary or non-existant on Solaris installs. It also has Debian's apt method of package management, which includes the ability to update packages and their dependencies.