Sun's OpenSolaris push impeded by myths, bugs

Sun is contending with a common belief that OpenSolaris won't run on x86 processors

Sun's quest to position OpenSolaris as a robust alternative to Linux is still hampered by myths surrounding the open source operating system and the software's own limitations.

While Sun works to fix the software's numerous bugs, it's also contending with a common belief that OpenSolaris won't run on x86 processors, according to Stephen Lau, an OpenSolaris engineer.

"That's one of the myths we've really tried to dispel over OpenSolaris," Lau said Tuesday to a group of developers gathered at Sun Tech Days in Boston. "People say it's only optimized for [SPARC] or it's only optimized for the Opteron systems Sun ships. Sun doesn't make laptops, but [internally] we're all running Solaris on laptops. There's tons of different hardware that supports Solaris just great."

Lau said he thinks OpenSolaris is "pretty much on par" with Linux, but encouraged developers to report bugs.

"We don't know if something sucks until you tell us," Lau said. "That feedback is really, really critical."

OpenSolaris is based partly on the source code for Sun's Solaris operating system. Future versions of Solaris will be based on improvements within OpenSolaris, according to Sun.

OpenSolaris users still have to remap the backspace key because it's not supported in the operating system by default. It's one of many problems being addressed in Sun's Project Indiana, which aims to modernize the software and make is useable out of the box, Lau said. A test release will come out next month and the first official release is expected in March.

Engineer Timothy Lyons, who attended Tuesday's event, said OpenSolaris is pretty good but he'd prefer to see it used in homes or in small businesses.

"It definitely supports hardware better than it used to," said Lyons, the master server engineer at Partners HealthCare in Massachusetts. "It's definitely becoming a contender [to Linux]. I just don't think it's quite there yet."

Partners has a large Linux base that supports many custom applications developed in-house to support hospital functions. The technological challenge of converting those applications to Solaris wouldn't be worth it, Lyons said.

Lyons said he uses OpenSolaris at home and has found that it doesn't support all the software Linux does.

Linux "lets me run all my Microsoft applications," he said. "I can run Office. I can run Outlook, all the things that I have to run. ... It's not as easy on Solaris. It would be a real difficult set of obstacles I'd have to overcome."

Another OpenSolaris problem: lack of support for Apple Firewire. "At some point we need to figure out what to do there," said Dave Miner, senior staff engineer at Sun.

Solaris's traditional strengths such as high availability have made it perform well in data centers and enterprises, Lau said. With Project Indiana Sun is trying to identify problems that impede customer migration from Linux.

"We want to make Solaris as interesting an operating system as possible to everyone," Lau said.

Lau encouraged developers to join user groups and contribute to OpenSolaris projects.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon Brodkin

Network World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?