Sources: Sun Plans To Open Nearly All Solaris Source Code

The project is likely to be called and to be released in the fall.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

June 30, 2004

3 Min Read

Developers and solution providers might get more than they expect when Sun Microsystems details its plans to make Solaris code open source later this year.

Sources familiar with the company's plans told CRN at JavaOne 2004 that Sun isn't 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 nearly all of the operating system's source code, including, "all the rocket science," said one Sun employee who requested anonymity.

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 VP of software John Loiacono said in an interview with CRN on Monday that Sun is "not opposed to" giving over the entire operating system to the open-source community.

So far, solution providers have had mixed reactions to Sun's plan to open Solaris' code, first unveiled by Sun president and chief operating officer 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, chief technology officer at solution provider eBuilt Inc. Lindsay said that Linux will remain a popular alternative to Solaris even if Sun offers open-source versions of Solaris for all three of its hardware platforms--Sparc, AMD Opteron, and Intel.

"What decision does this drive?" Lindsay 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 company has been highly criticized for never giving Java stewardship over to the community.

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

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

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