Sun Launches OpenSolaris Project

Sun Microsystems launches the OpenSolaris project, releasing millions of lines of code of the Solaris operating system to the open-source community

June 14, 2005

2 Min Read
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Sun Microsystems Inc. on Tuesday launched the OpenSolaris project, releasing millions of lines of code of the Solaris operating system to the open-source community.

OpenSolaris is based on a subset of the source code for Solaris, which powers computer servers used to run business applications. While strong technologically, Solaris has loss market share to Linux, a free, open-source operating system that has grown in popularity within enterprises.

Linux, like Solaris, is based on the Unix operating system. Proprietary systems based on Unix have been hit hardest in the market by the growing use of the open-source OS. Sun, which was the most successful Unix-based systems vendor during the dot-com era, was hurt the most by Linux, experts say.

Experts, however, expect OpenSolaris to benefit existing Solaris customers, and have little, if any, impact on the popularity of Linux.

"This really isn't aimed at taking over the Linux community or open source," Gordon Haff, analyst for market researcher Illuminata Inc., said. "This is a way to get people who use and develop on Solaris engaged with each other and with Sun's engineers. The idea is to rekindle the excitement in using Sun's products."It's more going back to Sun's roots in some ways."

Long term, however, Sun would like to see OpenSolaris become an important open-source operating system, Haff said.

"(Sun) could regain some of the ground it's loss to Linux, but a lot of that is certainly speculative," Haff said.

Initially, Sun is releasing the core kernel, libraries and commands distributed with the commercially available Solaris OS. The Santa Clara, Calif., computer maker plans to release additional components of the platform later.

The major difference between Solaris and OpenSolaris is that the latter does not provide an end-user product or complete distribution. Instead, it's an open-source code base and software tools needed to develop applications with the code, and an infrastructure developers can use to communicate and share information.The OpenSolaris community will provide support, and decisions within the project will be made independently from Sun's business. The company's management will not "exert undue influence within the OpenSolaris community," Sun said on the project's website.

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