OpenSolaris 2008.5, the new distribution based on the OpenSolaris operating system, has been released into the wild. This release follows the conventions set by many of the popular Linux distributions, such as being based on a single live CD with installer, but also adds a load of OpenSolaris-specific features such as ZFS, DTrace, Containers, and a new package management system, IPS. OpenSolaris 2008.5 is the fruit of Project Indiana.When Sun started the process of open sourcing Solaris 10 about three years ago, it sufficed to have a website dedicated to programmers. OpenSolaris.org was the place where OpenSolaris was being built, and for a while, according to Dan Roberts, director of product management for Solaris and OpenSolaris at Sun, this worked out just fine. However, later on, people expected something else on OpenSolaris.org: a distribution. “They were looking for something that they could understand, that they could deploy, that they could use.”
He continues to explain that Solaris 10 was mostly a monolithic package, a very complete operating system filled with stuff that a lot of people simply don’t need. More or less he said that Solaris 10 was a bit overkill if you just wanted to deploy a php application on Apache. The new package manager is part of trying to solve this problem, to make Solaris 10 less monolithic. The IPS system also uses ZFS; if your package upgrade goes tits up, you will be able to roll back to a stable system using ZFS snapshots – you can make a ZFS snapshot right before you start the update process.
Jim McHugh, vice president of Solaris marketing at Sun, explains a little further:
Solaris has a very strong following and a very strong user base. Now we’re taking all the benefits Solaris has had and making it more familiar and accessible to what people who have used other open-source operating systems know. It is really giving access to the big features that someone might have associated in the past with just being Unix features.
And they’re going to update the default shell to understand the backspace key. Just so you know.
You can download the new release from the OpenSolaris.com website.