Sun Microsystems has gone to great lengths in recent years to make its
Solaris operating system more open by going open source. But “open” doesn’t
always mean “easy.”
That changes today, with the Solaris Express Developer Edition (SXDE) 9/07 release, which is highlighted by new features to make the software easier to actually get up and
“We’ve been getting feedback for years that it’s [Solaris] just too
difficult to install,” Jeff McMeekin, product line manager for SXDE at Sun,
told InternetNews.com. “It’s not as positive a first experience as
you’d like to have and we wanted to address that and focus on making a
really good first impression.”
Solaris Express Developer Edition (SXDE) first debuted in February of this year and is intended to be a more stable,
developer-focused version of OpenSolaris. SXDE 9/07 is based on OpenSolaris
build number 70 with additional stability and testing time baked in.
McMeekin noted that the installer update in SXDE 9/07 is a major rewrite of what
Sun previously had in SXDE. Sun reduced the number of clicks it
takes to install OpenSolaris, overhauled the user interface and provided a
degree of installation intelligence that helps users.
“If you’ve seen the old Solaris installer, the new one is way, way, way
improved,” McMeekin said.
Sun looked at the installation mechanisms on Apple Macintosh, Windows and
various versions of Linux to see and learn how other operating systems
handle installation. “We looked to see if there was anything from Linux that we could repurpose, but unfortunately they were all too platform-specific,” McMeekin said.
In addition to making it easier to actually install SXDE, Sun said it made
some of the key features of Solaris easier to use. In
particular, Dtrace, which is a technology that uses dynamic probes to
monitor system performance, gets treated to a new interface.
Called D-Light, the new GUI front-end tool to Dtrace is all about making the
technology easier to manage and use.
“Dtrace has a bit of a learning curve,” McMeekin admitted. “We wanted to
make it easier. And, remember, you’re not just looking at the application;
you’re looking at the whole system to get a feeling of where performance
McMeekin expects the next version of SXDE to include the Xen
virtualization hypervisor, as well as other enhancement that will be pulled
for future OpenSolaris builds.
OpenSolaris is the bleeding edge of Solaris development and is currently at
build number 72. Sun’s flagship Solaris release, Solaris 10 was recently updated with additional virtualization capabilities to support Linux.