Enterprise Unix Roundup: Sun's Free Lunch

By Michael Hall (Send Email)
Posted Jun 16, 2005

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Sun put OpenSolaris on the menu this week, hoping to attract developers to the table. Rootkit Hunter makes it easy to detect rootkits on Unix and Linux systems.

Amy Newman
Michael Hall

"In the pantheon of Internet history, this will have its own chapter."

In case you weren't privy to the "passion" and "excitement" coming out of Santa Clara, Calif., this week, the OpenSolaris vault has been opened.

For those of you scratching your heads at home trying to decipher Solaris and OpenSolaris, here's a crib sheet: Solaris 10, the whole kit and kaboodle, is now a free download, as it has been since its January release.

Support is available for a fee. This is where Solaris itself earns its keep.

OpenSolaris, which is released under Sun's CDDL (pronounced "cuddle") license, announced in December 2004, makes public the code to chunks of the userland, the kernel, and the networking stack, including the popular and powerful DTrace technology. The community Web site, a key attribute of OpenSolaris, also went live Tuesday.

From our vantage point, Sun is positioning the relationship between OpenSolaris and Solaris in a manner similar to how Red Hat positioned the Fedora project to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, shortly after the enterprise product launched.

Sun Senior Manager, OpenSolaris Marketing, Clair Giordano told Roundup staff this week, "We believe that OpenSolaris will vastly expand the ecosystem and the market for the OpenSolaris technology. Community collaboration is a magnet for developers, and allowing developers and partners to leverage the Solaris technology for their own purposes should [help it to] ultimately become a platform for a whole new generation of innovation."

She later noted, "in the future, the Solaris operating system will be built from the OpenSolaris technology."

The Fedora-feeding-the-enterprise model didn't quite work as Red Hat envisioned it, but it lacked one vital piece of the puzzle that Sun already has in place. Sun is selling a full system stack, unlike Red Hat, whose business model hinges on selling support. In other words, Sun hopes that giving away the appetizer will lead to the customer sticking around for the meal.

Sun hopes that giving away the appetizer will lead to the customer sticking around for the meal.

If Sun's plan plays out, developers will write Solaris-based apps. Enterprises will buy the Sun software stack, realize that their business will run even more efficiently on Sun hardware, and sales all around will be bolstered.

A simple plan that begins by, "trying to get the OpenSolaris technology in the hands of many more people and expand the ecosystem for the technology," Giordano said.

So who precisely are these people?

Giordano said she has observed interest from across the board, "making it hard to quantify down to a particular market."

"We've got interest coming from all sorts of different places, with regards to OpenSolaris. Whether it's government agencies, particularly in Asia, ... as well as Brazil, [and from] university professors ... not just in the fact that it's open source but also because there's a lot of the revolutionary technology in Solaris 10."

In addition, many enthusiasts, IT departments, ISVs, are already using DTrace.

Giordano told ServerWatch, "One of the things I want our customers to know is that with the advent of OpenSolaris, Sun is going to continue to deliver a high quality, highly secure, reliable enterprise-class Solaris operating system. I want to make sure that stays on the radar screen, and people realize we are absolutely committed to Solaris, and we'll continue to deliver our enterprise operating system."

We suspect Sun is tracking software downloads closer than it's letting on. If it's going to be charging for the meal, it needs to know where to put the check.

In Other News

» Intellectual property issues generated the bulk of the heat around Linux last year, and the market is still reflecting that. Most recently, Black Duck and VA Software teamed up to provide an integration kit for developers. VA Software's SourceForge software provides collaboration and management tools for developers. Black Duck's protex/IP tracks potential license conflicts in open source software projects.

» Gentoo Linux distribution founder Daniel Robbins has packed his bags for Redmond. The project posted a terse statement from Robbins, who accepted a job with Microsoft, on Monday: "I'm helping Microsoft to understand Open Source and community-based projects." The reasonable explanation: Microsoft wants to understand open source and community-based projects better and hired someone who ran one of the more prominent ones. The conspiracy theory explanation: Microsoft is embarking on a project to hire every single Linux developer of note to bring about 1,000 years of Windows dominance.

» Hardware Today's Unisys Server Snapshot looks at the latest from the company, including its Real Time Capacity server series, "the first to make Intel-based Windows and Linux servers available on a pay-as-you-go basis."

» Besides pushing OpenSolaris out the door, Sun this week announced a new SOA service registry designed to help users locate and reuse Web services. The registry will be demoed at JavaOne 2005 and is scheduled to turn up in Java Enterprise Server in the fall, with early betas slated to appear in Java Web Services Developer Pack (Java WSDP) 1.6 later this month.

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