Sun to mimic Linux distribution model

By   |  July 16, 2007

InfoWorld reports that in an effort to catch the Linux wave, Sun has announced Project Indiana which will see the company releasing its OpenSolaris (OS) operating system as binaries in 2008. This will mean users will not have to build the software from source code before using it.

The company is hoping to mimic the Linux distribution model as a way to grow the market for Solaris. "Over the last five or 10 years, orders of magnitude more people in the world know the Linux environment than know Solaris. This is a problem," said Ian Murdock, Sun’s chief OS strategist and a former CTO of the Linux Foundation.

Before joining Sun Microsystems, Murdock was the founder of the Debian Gnu/Linux distribution on which many of today’s versions of Linux are built including the likes of Ubuntu.

Paul Krill reports that "having already offered up Solaris to open source via the OpenSolaris project … project Indiana seeks to combine what Sun described as the best of Solaris – its enterprise-class capabilities, innovation, and backward compatibility – with the best of Linux – its distribution model, community, and its being free and open source."

"Even with open source, the binary platform is the key thing of value," said Murdock.

Project Indiana will feature short release cycles that will offer something downloadable every six months, similar to popular Linux distributions such as Ubuntu.

"The main goal of Indiana is to reorient Solaris around the distribution model," said Murdock. With the project, Sun is moving to a two-tier development environment in which enterprise customers can get the commercial version of Solaris and developers can access the Indiana binary version.

The Indiana variant will feature ease of installation, network-based package management, and Solaris’s ZFS (Zettabyte File System) as the default file system. ZFS recaptures states of a system to assist in problem resolution.

Murdock said that Solaris has the edge when it comes to support and compatibility. "There is very little compatibility between Linux distributions," he said.

While there is competition between Solaris and Linux, it is in the same sense as how Red Hat competes with Debian, said Murdock. "Competition is a healthy thing in a free market," he said.

Sun expects Indiana to be deployed in production environments and plans to sell support services for it.

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