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NetBeans, OpenSolaris Also in Spotlight at JavaOne

Sun Microsystems is taking the term "open" to new levels with the addition of numerous open source technologies along with its own. The company will make a series of announcements at its JavaOne conference in San Francisco this week that show Java, at age 13, is learning to play well with others.

Sun's (NASDAQ: JAVA) move to open source has been somewhat slow but steady. The reason, the company has always maintained, is because it has to vet all of the code to make sure that it is all Sun code, not licensed, and is theirs to release in the first place.

With today's announcement of the NetBeans 6.1 IDE and the availability of OpenSolaris, more than just Sun's own open source code is part of the mix. Dynamic languages like Ruby and PHP are also getting an embrace.

"It's interesting that they are going outside the walls of Sun to work with other open source people, which is a really big shift in Sun's open source strategy," Michael Cote, an analyst with Redmonk told InternetNews.com. "Usually a commercial company doing open source supports only their own thing. There's not a case of 'here's a bunch of things we gathered together,' and Sun hasn't been known for doing that sort of thing. So it seems like a pretty big strategic move for them."

Sun made a bold move in buying MySQL earlier this year, but with money tight from one tough quarter and another looming, Cote figures Sun won't be breaking the bank for more big purchases any time soon.

Charlie Boyle, director of Solaris marketing for Sun, acknowledged that the company is looking beyond its doors for a best-of-breed solution. "OpenSolaris from its core has been about combining our great innovations developed in open source with other open source projects," he said.

"It was the project's decision to integrate. We can't develop everything ourselves so we need to work with other companies to say what's the best and build new on top of that," Boyle added.

Sun today introduced OpenSolaris 2008.05, the first version to include some of the technologies in Ian Murdock's Project Indiana. Murdock, developer of the Debian Linux distribution, joined the company last year to bring a more modern method of updating and modifying a Solaris installation. The project was inspired by RPM and Yum, which are used to update Linux installations, but will offer more versatility, such as the ability to roll back an update.

OpenSolaris 2008.05 also features application migration support for the first time, so if a developer is using it as their development and test bed and wants to move an application to a Solaris environment and it fails, Sun will help with the migration.

The other product release is the NetBeans Integrated Development Environment (IDE) 6.1 and an early access version (read: beta) of PHP scripting language support for NetBeans. In addition to PHP, NetBeans is updating its support for JavaScript and Ruby. Among the new features in NetBeans 6.1 is new functionality for Ajax development and tighter integration with the MySQL database.

Sun has added the ability for JavaScript to call Ruby on Rails and PHP applications from JavaScript code. Many of the old incompatibilities in JavaScript code have been ironed out, making cross-platform development much easier, according to David Folk, group manager for NetBeans marketing at Sun.

"JavaScript is instrumental to compliment a lot of Web application development," he said. "So we enable people to have good support for JavaScript no matter what they are trying to do."

The JavaScript support includes semantic highlighting, code completion, type analysis, quick fixes, semantic checks and refactoring. Also, NetBeans 6.1 adds in a browser compatibility feature to make it easier to write JavaScript code that is compatible with Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari or Windows Internet Explorer.

Support for Amazon's 'Compute Cloud'

In addition to OpenSolaris for use on your own computers, Sun and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced the beta availability of Sun's OpenSolaris OS on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2).