Sources: Sun Plans To Open Nearly All Solaris Source Code 2 will include nearly all Solaris code, including "all the rocket science."
Developers and solution providers might get more than they expect when Sun Microsystems details its plans to open-source Solaris later this year.

Sources familiar with the company's plans told CRN at JavaOne 2004 that Sun is not going to simply open up bits and pieces of the millions of lines of code in Solaris, Sun's popular Unix-based operating system. The vendor plans to open up nearly all of the OS's source code, including, "all the rocket science," one Sun employee who requested anonymity said.

Sun will manage the open-source project, which likely will be unveiled in the fall and called, though other names are being considered, he added.

Indeed, Sun Executive Vice President of Software John Loiacono said in an interview with CRN Monday that Sun is "not opposed to" giving over the entire operating system to the open-source community. ( See story.)

So far, solution providers have had mixed reactions to Sun's plan to open-source Solaris, first unveiled by Sun President and COO Jonathan Schwartz at a Sun conference in Shanghai earlier this month. Some think that the move could stem defection from Solaris to Linux, a problem that has significantly plagued Sun in the past few years.

But others don't see it that way. "I don't find this very significant at all," said Joe Lindsay, CTO of Costa Mesa, Calif.-based solution provider eBuilt. Lindsay said that Linux will continue to remain a popular alternative to Solaris even if Sun open sources versions of Solaris for all three of its hardware platforms, Sparc, AMD Opteron and Intel.

"What decision does this drive?" Linsday said. "Solaris/Sparc for proprietary hardware or open-source Solaris/Intel for commodity hardware" the first is of dubious value and the second is basically Linux without widespread support and a meddlesome vendor."

Despite such sentiment, Sun has a history of contributing technology to the open-source community, though the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has been highly criticized for never giving Java stewardship over to the community.

This week at its annual Java developer confab, Sun added to its list of open-source contributions by opening up the source code to its Project Looking Glass, a next-generation 3D desktop environment, as well as several related technologies.

In a conference keynote by Sun Chairman and CEO Scott McNealy, Project Looking Glass inventor and Senior Staff Engineer Hideya Kawahara officially released the code to Looking Glass on Sun's developer resource Web site.

Technologies available to developers through the project are: 3D Window Manager Platform, a Java 3D Application Programming Interface (API) with client-server model support; 3D Window Manager and Application Development API, a Java API to enable development of new 3D desktop applications; Native Application Integration Module, a module to run X11 applications within the 3D environment; Sample 3D Window Manager, a sample implementation for testing and demonstration purposes; and 3D Environment Lite, a standalone, simplified 3D environment for development and testing that can be run on any Java 3D API-enabled platform including Linux and the Solaris OS.

Other technologies Sun released to open source this week are Java 3D, an API for incorporating 3D graphics into Java desktop components; JDesktop Integration Components (JDIC), which helps developers create applications that run on multiple operating systems while giving users a user experience consistent with their desktop; and JDesktop Network Components (JDNC), a set of user interface components with built-in networking and data-binding support that can be configured via XML.

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