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6/2/2009
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Sun Boosts OpenSolaris On Networking, Virtualization

The OpenSolaris 2009.6 networking stack has been rewritten to take advantage of large-scale, multiprocessor servers functioning on a high-speed network.

Sun Microsystems brought out an updated version of OpenSolaris Monday that includes Project Crossbow, a network stack for a multiprocessor and multithreaded approach that will result in faster networking.

The new release is called OpenSolaris 2009.6, a nomenclature that borrows from Ubuntu's practice of using the year and month of the year that a new release comes out.

The OpenSolaris 2009.6 networking stack has been rewritten to take advantage of large-scale, multiprocessor servers functioning on a high-speed network. The new Project Crossbow capabilities take advantage of multithreading to speed instruction passing and message handling on heavily virtualized servers. In addition, it's able to generate virtual network interfaces, allowing more virtual machines to run on each piece of hardware, said John Fowler, executive VP of systems at Sun.

The ZFS files system in OpenSolaris has been enhanced to recognize flash storage devices and designate them as read and write accelerators. They can be automatically managed by ZFS to improve performance on writes to storage or retrieving data from flash storage.

Support for Microsoft's CIFS file system has been added as a peer to ZFS. The move allows OpenSolaris to support Windows semantics for security, naming, and access rights, which allows transparent file use across Windows, Linux, and Solaris operating environments, Fowler said in Monday's announcement at CommunityOne, a Sun developer conference in San Francisco.

Sun also added high-performance support of iSCSI and Fibre Channel block protocols into the OpenSolaris kernel. Any storage topology can now work with systems running on an OpenSolaris server, Fowler said. The virtualization capabilities built into OpenSolaris include enhanced Containers operation, where a server's resources are partitioned for use by virtual machines running under one shared copy of the operating system. The approach is considered lighter weight than hypervisor-supervised virtualization, where each VM on a server includes its own copy of the operating system. OpenSolaris also supports VMs running under Sun's version of the Xen open source hypervisor, xVM.

Sun for the first time published claims of OpenSolaris performance advantages over Linux. It said in a statement that OpenSolaris delivers 35% better memory management, 22% better integer arithmetic, and 18% better multithread scheduling compared with "the latest Linux releases." The company didn't specify whether Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Novell's SUSE, Ubuntu Linux, or all three were included in the comparison.


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