Sun Releases Third Update to Solaris 10

The company says this is the most secure version of the operating system ever released, and plans to integrate the Xen hypervisor into Solaris 10 in the first half of 2007.

SAN FRANCISCO—Sun Microsystems made the third, and latest, update to Solaris 10 available for download on Dec. 11, which is the most secure version of the operating system ever released, Tom Goguen, the vice president of systems software at Sun, said at a media event here.

Goguen also used the event to announce that Sun planned to integrate the Xen hypervisor into Solaris 10 in the first half of 2007. That technology would be delivered with the next update to the operating system, he said.

While Solaris 10 with the Xen hypervisor built-in is already available at, the code is currently undergoing the rigorous testing required for any technology included in Solaris, and will only be released when the code meets the quality criteria for that operating system, Goguen said.

"We believe that Solaris 10 is now the most secure operating system on the planet and is undergoing common criteria certification, at the EA 4 level, with three protection profiles," he said.

This latest update, known as Solaris 11/06, includes Trusted Extensions, which brings built-in multi-level security. Trusted Extensions was previously delivered, and sold, as a separate operating system release.

"One of the features of this is that a security profile or tag can be attached to every object the system deals with, which prevents the user, system and applications from doing certain things," Goguen said.

The update also brings the "secure by default" feature, which is designed to lock down everything out-of-the-box. This update also gets Suns application compatibility guarantee of binary compatibility, which applies to all updates and major Solaris releases.

"No other operating system on the planet does this today, and many operating systems actually break compatibility between releases. With Solaris 10, the operating system can take advantage of all legacy and new applications," he said.

This latest update also contains some interesting updates on virtualization, such as the ability to make it easier for a container to be cloned, moved to another system, and then run on an array of systems or have multiple clones running on the same machine.

But Goguen also stressed that "Solaris Containers is not the be all and end all of virtualization for Solaris," and he noted that hypervisor technology, popularized by VMware and now being worked on by XenSource, would also be made available to Solaris.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here for the eWEEK Labs review of Solaris 10.

"Not only will you be able to virtualize at the container level, but now also at the system level. The benefits of this is server consolidation and better utilization rates, as high as 75 percent, as well as making the overall environment more flexible to be able to deliver new applications and services to market more quickly," he said.

"The reasons people choose to virtualize their environments today is that they are running legacy operating systems on new hardware. That is where the market is today, but virtualization is just beginning to take off in the data center," Goguen said.

As such, Sun intends to offer the hypervisor as a feature of the operating system, so Solaris 10 could be installed as the hypervisor for the system, or as a guest operating system, or without the hypervisor at all, he said.

"You will also be able to DTrace the hypervisor," Goguen said, noting that "there are security issues with virtualization and hypervisor technologies in general. But we will secure users and the operating system for our users."

Sun did not want to find itself at odds with any of the open-source and Linux communities because it is an active participant in many of these, he said, and noted that Sun would continue to aggressively promote the benefits of its commercial Solaris operating system and to compare and contrast this with its competitors.

Sun is also participating in, and taking a close look at, the GNU GPL (General Public License) 3 to see if it is able to meet the needs of the participants in the Open Solaris community.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about why the FSF moved to clarify inaccurate information about GPLv3.

A number of things in GPL 3 look interesting, including the ability to combine non-GPL software, Goguen said.

Demand for Solaris 10 has been robust over the two years it has been on the market, with 6.5 million licenses delivered over that time—two thirds of which were for x86 and x64 bit systems, he said.

People were also working on Solaris features like DTrace for other operating systems, such as the Mac, Goguen said in response to a question about whether Sun would be concerned if DTrace showed up, say, in IBMs AIX operating system.

Apple Computers Mac OS X 10.5 operating system upgrade, code-named Leopard, will feature a new application performance measuring tool named Xray, which will be based on the open-source DTrace, but provide a graphical interface to that utilitys command-line monitoring of kernel and user code.

"We dont see any benefit in locking our customers in, and customers are getting very savvy about not allowing themselves to get locked in," Goguen said. "We also believe that we have barely even scratched the surface with features like dTrace with greater automation and better management."

Sun will also be engaging with Web 2.0 companies and other startups in a major way in 2007, a plan that has already started under its Startup Essentials program, as these were companies that would want to use the kind of innovation that Sun creates to drive their businesses, Goguen said.

But he acknowledged that Linux is the most widely used operating system by these Web 2.0 companies, which includes companies like FedEx and American Airlines because they are using the Internet to drive and expand their business and offering innovative services to their customers, Goguen said.

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