Sun Microsystems Inc. is already hard at work on the feature-set for the next version of its Solaris operating system, which is taking place on a parallel track to the development of updates for Solaris 10, released at the end of January.
The plan is for new features and technology from the next version of Solaris to be delivered through the Software Express for Solaris program, which gives customers regular snapshots of future software features currently under development at a very early stage, as happened with Solaris 10.
“In next few months, you will see Sun opening up the next version of Solaris,” John Loiacono, Suns executive vice president for software, told eWEEK.
Customers using Solaris 10 had asked for a GUI (Graphical User Interface) for DTrace, the facility that opens to developers and system administrators a window into the workings of the operating system and the applications that run on it, Loiacono said, so it was working on that.
“Customers also want predictive self-healing updates, with a more user-friendly interface to allow less-technical people do this. We are also working on virtualization; we are pushing our container technology to the next level,” he said.
On Monday, Sun is expected to also announce the names of the board members who will establish the rules for community governance around its OpenSolaris project.
While Sun officials declined to name those selected to the governance board, less than half of them are believed to be Sun staff, with the majority coming from its customer base, the industry and the open-source community.
The board will be tasked with putting the processes and details in place that will govern how the OpenSolaris community works together.
Delivering source code
Sun was also on track to deliver all the OpenSolaris source code, which is most of the code for its shipping Solaris 10 product less some third-party drivers and other technology not legally owned by Sun, before the end of June, Loiacono said.
The move to open Solaris had “largely been welcomed by the silent majority,” Loiacono said; however, the move has been sharply criticized by some in the Linux community because the license that governs it, the CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License), is not compatible with the GNU GPL (General Public License), under which the open-source Linux operating system is licensed.
Sun had distributed more than 1 million registered licenses for Solaris 10 since Jan. 31, when the software became available on Suns Web site, he said, but he was unable to detail how many of those were paid licenses rather than free downloads.
The opening up of the code would also result in new customer opportunities, which was reflected in the fact that there are now some 400 non-Sun-certified platforms for the operating system, compared with about 270 before it was released, he said.
Sun had also been effective in signing up new partners for Solaris 10, including BEA, Veritas, Siebel and SAP, and was not seeing any pushback from them because it had chosen the CDDL, he said.
With regard to the two pieces of technology that were not included when Solaris 10 shipped earlier this year; the 128-bit Solaris ZFS file system and the Janus technology that allows Linux binaries to run natively on Solaris, Loiacono said both were coming along well and would be available by the middle of the year.
Some Solaris users, such as Thomas Nau, head of the Communication and Information Centers Infrastructure Department at the University of Ulm, Germany, say they would have liked to see ZFS in the initial release because it is the only bundled file system that supports more than 1TB without introducing limitations.
Asked about Suns strained relationship with IBM, which has so far refused to support Solaris 10 on its x86 hardware because it had not yet seen the level of customer interest in that operating system to support such a move improving, IBM spokesman Steve Eisenstadt, in Somers, N.Y., told eWEEK that Loiacono said the two forms were “working together.”
“We are at the table, and I am hopeful that we will have something to announce fairly soon. Some of our enterprise customers have told them that they want choice to Linux. They want alternatives, like Solaris 10 on the x86 platform, and they need IBM applications to make that happen,” he said.
Influential enterprise customers such as Tony Scott, the chief technology officer of GMs information systems and services group in Detroit, have told eWEEK that IBMs approach was wrong and that the pressure was going to mount on IBM and others to support their applications on that platform, “which is going to have significant market share and has all the marks of a successful, viable, competitive platform.”
“For companies such as GM, which already has an installed Sun base, this is attractive. In this particular case, I think IBM is being a little shortsighted,” Scott said.