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Sun's OpenSolaris gets CIFS-ilis

Breaks out in Windows file-sharing rashes

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Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes...

The dead rising from the grave.

Human sacrifice, CIFS and Solaris living together — mass hysteria.

The open-source folks at Sun Microsystems have put the polish on an in-kernel CIFS service, which will allow Microsoft users to store and retrieve files on an OpenSolaris system.

According to Bob Porras, engineering veep for Solaris storage, the implementation will make The Common Internet File System (CIFS) — aka SMB — a "first class citizen" in Solaris, gaining tight integration with NFS, ZFS and Active Directory.

"¿Que?" you may be exclaiming (perhaps you've just arrived home from a Spanish language class). Surely there is Samba on Solaris.

Oh, ho ho. Indeed. But this native kernel implementation supposedly goes beyond the feature set on Samba. Or as Sun's Alan Wright elaborates on his blog:

There is a common misconception that Windows interoperability is just a case of implementing file transfer using the CIFS protocol. Unfortunately, that doesn't get you very far.

Windows interoperability also requires that a server support[s] various Windows services, typically MSRPC services and it is very sensitive to the way that those services behave: WIndows inter-operability requires that a CIFS server convince a Windows client or server that it "is Windows". This is really only possible if the operating system supports those services at a fundamental level.

Wright said Samba will continue to be a relevant multi-platform application service that provides file and print service for Windows and CIFS clients. Samba also has features and capabilities that the new integration doesn't yet have — and possibly never include, such as the ability to be a master browser.

Sun will incorporate CIFS Server in the 'Indiana' release of OpenSolaris, due out in the first half of 2008. It probably won't hit the commercial version of Solaris for a year or so, according to Barry Greenberg, Senior Engineering Manager at the Solaris Group.

This is all a part of Sun's plan for Solaris and its associated software to become the Switzerland of storage operating systems. Big businesses using systems from different vendors are looking for some multi-protocol love. Sun figures it can take its extended-arms approach to rival vendor systems with its open source community straight to the bank. ®

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