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Solaris Gets Linux Support Boost

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Sun Microsystems Tuesday announced an update to its Solaris operating system that will improve virtualization performance and add support for Linux applications, along with other improvements to the software.

With this week’s release of Solaris 10 8/07, Linux apps can run on a Solaris x86 server without modification.

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The most notable change Sun made to Solaris 10 8/07, the official title of the update, is the addition of Solaris Containers for Linux Applications. With this update, native x86 Linux applications can run on Solaris for x86 systems unmodified.

Sun guarantees applications written and tested for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 and CentOS, the Community ENTerprise Operating System based on RHEL, will run in its container software, according to Dan Roberts, director of Solaris, OpenSolaris and database marketing.

Because Sun anticipates customers running dozens if not a hundred or more containers on one server, it has added fine grain controls to each container. Administrators can use Solaris’ Dynamic Tracing (DTrace) to monitor Linux applications and set limits on each container.

Sun and its customers are finding consolidation often makes for crowded servers. “As you consolidate applications into a system, you can lose visibility of what’s going on in that system, which apps are consuming the CPU, when those apps get hit the most,” said Roberts. “Folks are taking lots and lots of apps and pouring them together and having these issues. This will help them make it a lot better behaved.”

Hence, the fine-grain controls. Admins can now limit the amount of memory, the number of threads, cores or processors each container gets, and set the priorities, so low-priority applications don’t hog all the resources when a high-priority application needs processing power and memory. They can also assign applications to specific network addresses.

This sort of thing is definitely needed, said Richard Jones, vice president and service director for data center strategy at the Burton Group. “The main thing that customers are looking for is a way to simplify their environments,” he told

“To gain some management on their apps, with all of the sprawl everyone has been dealing with, that’s a great things for customers. It gives them a lot of ability to manage their environments. So it’s good for everybody,” he said.

Another new feature is Large Send Offload, which reduces the workload of a system’s CPU by offloading a large chunk of work onto another CPU or system. Other network throughput enhancements have been added as well, including multithreaded 10 gigabit networking support.

With this release, Sun is adding PostgreSQL 8.2, complete with some tweaks and optimizations for Solaris. It now offers improved warm standby capabilities, online index builds, and support for DTrace probes. Roberts said PostgreSQL is an ideal database for Java programmers.

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