Solaris 10 released

Sun Microsystems recently announced the launch of Sun Solaris 10. According to the company, it has spent over $500m to develop the operating system, and this has taken the last three years.

"When developing Solaris, one of our main goals was to make the operating system far easier to manage. We wanted to try and free up as much of the administrator's time as possible, letting him deal with other issues regarding the company's IT infrastructure," says David Hofert, senior Solaris product manager.

"Over 600 new features have been added to Solaris 10, addressing issues such as security, robustness and scalability," he says. "However the addition of features such as DTrace, Solaris Containers, Predictive Self-Healing and Solaris's Zettabyte file system (ZFS) are what we think will lure administrators into upgrading."

According to Hofert, DTrace lets administrators monitor and control every single aspect of the operating system. "Because users can now see and adjust resource usage, they will be able to push a machine's performance to the maximum," he says. "It also makes troubleshooting and debugging much easier and quicker."

With the addition of Solaris Containers, administrators now have the option of creating thousands of virtual machines on a single computer. "Say for instance a server is acting as an e-mail server and Web server, if one of the applications should crash, the entire server will be at risk. With the use of containers, administrators can assign certain applications to certain containers - the benefit being that should a certain application crash, it only affects the other applications within that container," says Hofert. The use of containers also lets administrators start and stop certain processes, without running the risk of bringing down the entire server, he adds. According to Sun, up to 8 000 Solaris Containers can be created per machine.

The Predictive Self-Healing feature means that Solaris 10 has the ability to automatically recover from both hardware and software failures, Hofert states. "Should a certain sector on a hard drive become faulty, Solaris 10 will automatically flag it as bad and stop writing data to it. It will also send a message to the administrator," he says. "Should an application stop responding, Solaris will automatically restart the application, as well as all the services on which the application is dependent."

"A lot of users say that our inclusion of the ZFS or 128-bit file system is a bit of an overkill. Although there are not many applications written to support this file system today, we are already seeing 64-bit file systems starting to run out of room. Thus, we feel if we include this functionality, when applications do eventually start rolling out, companies will not need to upgrade their operating systems again," adds Hofert.

The ZFS is also said to bring with it a host of other benefits, such as integrated support for disk mirroring and disk striping and the ability for administrators to manage partition size on the fly without having to perform any reformats.

According to Sun, the company offers a migration policy that will guarantee that existing Solaris applications will run on Solaris 10 without failure. If not, Sun will tweak Solaris 10 until a user's existing application runs without any problems.

"Solaris 10 is free for download," says Hofert. "Users merely have to pay for the support they want and the source code is now also available to the public," he concludes.

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