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Is Solaris really a bright choice for developers?

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Sun is certainly trying hard with Solaris. Here is the latest news:

  • Sun has come up with a Support Subscriptionfor open source Solaris 10 that's about half the price (it claims) of equivalent Red Hat Linux support. Options range from developer-focused $49/incident plans to a custom Solaris Everywhere site plan. And support is integrated across x86, x64 and SPARC platforms.
  • There's a new lifecycle management platform known as Sun Connection - this lets you provision Red Hat and Suse systems as well as Solaris.
  • There's a restructured reseller program targeting Linux replacement on x86 – which offers resellers "one of the highest OS margins" available – Sun is obviously serious about promoting wider use of Solaris, although it remains to be seen whether the Linux community is convinced.
  • Sun, of course, offers a range of migration programs which encourage people to migrate from UNIX versions sold by a wide range of other companies, in order to achieve "long term peace of mind with Sun" - a rather partisan turn of phrase, perhaps.

At a technical level, Sun has announced updates addressing security, virtualisation and, of course, performance here.

Solaris Trusted Extensions, which introduce labelled security (meaning each protected resource has a sensitivity label consisting of a hierarchical level and a set of non-hierarchical categories, which is used to determine access in conjunction with mandatory access control policies) to a wider market, can help protect data and applications; while Secure by Default Networking enhances security overall. Sun is very proud of its security certifications here.

Sun has also announced improvements to its business continuity and disaster recovery platform, Solaris Cluster, which supports Sun's virtualisation technology. Its most interesting technology in this area, perhaps, is the open source Xen Hypervisor (the OpenSolaris Xen community is here). A Hypervisor is a control program which manages different virtualised operating systems on a physical platform – an idea originally popularised long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, in IBM's VM/370 mainframe operating system (which presumably, then, got something right back then).

The features of Solaris 10 are listed here. It seems to be well worth looking at if you are thinking of acquiring a free version of UNIX/LINUX. ®

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