Enterprise Unix Roundup: A Solaris By Any Other Name

By Brian Proffitt (Send Email)
Posted Nov 7, 2007

Brian Proffitt
The much-hyped Project Indiana was released last week, but not without a little controversy. Also, a new version of AIX goes gold.

Some positive moving and shaking in the Unix world these days, though nothing seems to be released lately without some sort of controversy.

As it turns out, the controversy is — thus far — pretty minor and has barely overshadowed the big news: Sun Microsystems launched the first preview code from Project Indiana, which essentially becomes the seventh "distribution" of the OpenSolaris operating system.

From the start, Project Indiana was meant to be a unified distribution of OpenSolaris, containing "a core operating system, kernel, system libraries, a desktop environment and a package management system." In other words, one-stop downloading for those who want to try out OpenSolaris. What ruffled a few feathers about the release of Project Indiana last week was that this new distro is going to be rewarded the OpenSolaris name. Officially, Sun's now calling Project Indiana the OpenSolaris Developer Preview.

While this may not seem like such a big deal, more than a few developers of the other OpenSolaris distributions were a bit irked at being perceived as something "less than" the new distro on the block. BeleniX, MartUX mBE, NexentaOS and SchilliX can all claim to be OpenSolaris-based, but none of them can use the OpenSolaris moniker in their names. Even Sun's other distributions, Solaris Express Community Edition and Solaris Express Developer Edition, don't get the fancy title.

In a post to the [indiana-discuss] mailing list, Ian Murdock, chief operating platforms Officer, did a neat job heading off much of the potential flame-fest that could have occurred once the decision was made.

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"Since that time, there has been much debate about what the Project Indiana distribution should be called. Over the past few weeks, the conversation on the lists has centered around the OpenSolaris trademark, and whether or not Indiana, or any other distribution, should have the right/privilege to carry the moniker 'OpenSolaris,'" Murdock wrote.

He further stated:

I believe the debate fundamentally comes down to a question of identity: Is OpenSolaris a code base that others (including Sun) use as the basis for their operating environments, or is OpenSolaris an operating environment in its own right? Given that much of the world already assumes OpenSolaris is an operating environment — namely the community version of Solaris — one answer to that question is clear to me: OpenSolaris must be something new users can download and install.

Indiana is the first, and so far only, distribution created on OpenSolaris.org containing only bits from other OpenSolaris projects. It is, in a sense, a delivery vehicle for their work. For all intents and purposes Indiana is OpenSolaris in binary form. For all of the discussion that has gone on around the name, very few people seem to disagree with this.

Good points. Not to mention that it's laregely a matter of semanics: It's merely the name that Sun is unwilling to share. The code released from Project Indiana is still open source, and all of the other distros can take advantage of it. For now, there doesn't seem to be a big public kerfuffle about the issue, which is good. Anything too fractious would do more harm than good in these early stages of the OpenSolaris community's growth.

On the other end of the maturity scale lies IBM's AIX, which is due to release version 6 later this week. According to the New Zealand Reseller News, "IBM is pulling AIX 6 out of beta and will make the Unix OS generally available on Friday."

This new release, the story goes on to say, will feature new virtualization and workload management tools to increase uptime and improve application load balancing.

According to IBM, since AIX 6 went into beta last July, nearly 14,000 copies were downloaded. How that will translate into actual deployments remains to be seen.

Brian Proffitt is managing editor of JupiterWeb's Linux/Open Source channel, which includes Linux Today, LinuxPlanet, and AllLinuxDevices.

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