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Sun Expands OpenSolaris for Developers

OpenSolaris from the get go has always been about attracting more developers to Solaris.

Sun is now improving on that promise with the release of Solaris Express, Developer Edition, a new open source AMP (Apache/MySQL/Perl or PHP) stack for OpenSolaris and new support programs for developers to get started using OpenSolaris. The new efforts are part of Sun's goal to recapture developer talent and imagination and direct it towards innovating on Solaris.

"We wanted to make it easier for developers to get up and running," Dan Roberts director of developer tools marketing at Sun, told internetnews.com.

To that end Sun is bundling the latest hardware drivers for sound, video and network equipment as well as including developer tools and run times to build applications.

Solaris Express Developer Edition is not the first version of a Solaris Express product from Sun. Sun already has a Solaris Express and Solaris Express Community Edition available. Robert explained that Developer Edition is different from the other versions in that it benefit from more quality assurance and stability.

"In the community release you get weekly builds that are constantly changing. The focus for developer edition is more of a quarterly release model with more stability and a level of developer support that is available, which offers a more stable platform."

Sun will be making Solaris Express Developer Edition available as a freely downloadable ISO image  that is bootable. The ISO is not a LiveCD so users will still need to install it on their hard drives.

Developers will benefit from a Solaris tuned AMP (Apache/MySQL/Perl/PHP) stack as well as a broad set of tools to help developers build applications that run on Solaris.

"We are building out an open source infrastructure and allowing developers to build, tune and tweak at run time to ensure that they are maximizing performance in the system and getting the most utilization," Roberts said.

Though the Developer release includes items designed to make development easier for developers of dynamic languages such as PHP and Ruby, Roberts admitted that there is still something missing.

"In a broad sense there are no good tools available yet for dynamic languages from the standpoint of a Netbeans like IDE," Roberts said. "This is a general problem, even though ActiveState and Zend have some tools, most developers doing Ruby on Rails or PHP are using more core editors ."

Though in Roberts view there aren't such industry tools yet, Sun is working on the problem.

"This is actually an area that sun is investing heavily so that Netbeans can provide first class development capabilities for things like Javascript and Ruby on Rails and other languages."

According to Tom Goguen, vice president, Solaris software at Sun the Developer Edition release is part of Sun's concerted effort to recapture the imagination of developers world wide and get them back to Solaris.

There isn't necessarily a straight line between what happens in OpenSolaris and what may eventually become Solaris 11 either.

"People who are using OpenSolaris are using technology that may be in a future version of Solaris 10 or technology that may show up in subsequent releases of Solaris," Goguen said.

Update 3 of Solaris 10 was released in December. Such technology innovations as ZFS which entered Solaris 10 at update 2, first appeared in OpenSolaris.

Though OpenSolaris can be a proving ground for future Solaris features, when Solaris 11 will be released isn't being made public, yet.

"I can't commit to a date or even functionality that is related to a Solaris next release," Goguen said. "Frankly most customers today are looking at migrations to Solaris 10."

"Those that want to get on the bleeding edge -- that's what OpenSolaris is for."