Solaris 8 Source Code Left Open

SAN MATEO (01/28/2000) - When Sun Microsystems Inc. releases Solaris 8 in March, the company hopes to sweeten the new OS's appeal by eliminating end-user and source-code license fees. But access to Internet-centric Solaris 8 code may provide users with little more than a peek under the hood.

"We're making Solaris source code available for free to customers using the code for internal use," said Jeff Bernard, director of marketing at Solaris 8.

"They can make modifications to the code, and they'll own that property, but they do not have the right to modify the source code or redistribute it."

While the software and co-packaged code to Solaris 8 is free, Sun is charging $75 for a suite of software tools. Included in the software suite are StarOffice, Oracle migration tools, and the new iPlanet Advantage Software CD with the latest versions of iPlanet's Web and application server products, as well as e-commerce security software.

Sun has also made Solaris 8 easier to install, integrating InstallShield software with new setup wizards to assist the installation of Solaris 8, according to Bernard.

"Installation of Solaris has traditionally been command-line driven," Bernard explained . "But now users will find a more familiar, intuitive interface."

Digex Inc., a Web and application hosting company that counts Nike and TWA among its customers, has been running a beta version of Solaris 8. The upgrade is more "network-aware," said Charles Boyle, director of research and development.

"The install is slightly different, and there are more options on how you can configure your network," Boyle said. "We're not going to go through our entire Web farm and upgrade all the sites to Solaris 8. We'll make it an option for our existing customers, and all new customers will have Solaris 8."

As for free, open Solaris 8 code, Boyle feels that Sun has merely given customers the chance to "look under the hood" of the new Sun OS.

"Modifying the code is not something we'd probably do," Boyle said. "From our perspective, having access to the code is just a tool to better understand exactly what the operating system is doing."

Unlike the open-code Linux OS, end-user modifications to Solaris 8 cannot be submitted back to Sun for adoption. A Sun representative said such reviews are "in the works."

Sun Microsystems Inc., in Palo Alto, Calif., is at www.sun.com. Digex Inc., in Beltsville, Md., is at www.digex.com.

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