OpenSolaris Goes to School

Sun Microsystems is going Ivy. The systems vendor is working with Dartmouth College’s Department of Computer Science to improve security in OpenSolaris.

The Ivy League school is also developing an OpenSolaris based course as part of its computer science curriculum.

Sun and Dartmouth College techies and teachers are expected to focus on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). The process is seen as a way to strengthen Sun Solaris’ existing Cryptographic Framework library with a new Certificate Authority and integration with trusted computing technology.

Bear/Enforcers, which Dartmouth claims is the world’s first open-source Trusted Platform Module (TPM)-based computing platform, was developed in Dartmouth’s PKI Lab. TPM deploys the Bear/Enforcer platform to ensure operating system integrity via the boot process as well as protecting data on a file system.

“Yes there was an investment on Sun’s part, including a technology donation of several Sun servers and funding of collaborative research with the Dartmouth PKI Lab,” Kathy Jenks, Director of Security Technologies for Sun, told Sun and Dartmouth College declined to disclose the amount invested in the partnership.

However, Jenks said the collaboration between Dartmouth, with its PKI experience, and Sun, with its background in security mechanisms cryptography and application security, would yield technically advanced and customer friendly capabilities.

“And I think this shows how the open sourcing of Solaris is enabling research in some new and interesting ways, “Jenks added. According to Jenks, the Solaris 10 Operating System includes a variety of security mechanisms and applications that are capable of leveraging certificates. PKI would be an obvious next step for research and development.

Jenks expects that the software jointly developed by the new collaboration will enable customers to deploy a PKI without the costs associated with many modern PKI solutions.

Future releases of the Solaris Operating System will of course be built from the OpenSolaris technology, Jenks said. “The Solaris Trusted Extensions will be able to benefit from this collaboration as well.”

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