Compatibility Issues Slow 'Project Janus'

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-11-08 Email Print this article Print


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As Sun Microsystems prepares to deliver Solaris 10 by year's end, one of its key features—"Project Janus"—may be postponed.

As Sun Microsystems Inc. prepares to deliver Solaris 10 by year's end, one of its key features—"Project Janus"—may be postponed and added next year to a product update due to incompatibility issues with Linux applications.

Project Janus is designed to let Linux applications run on Solaris unmodified. But many Linux binaries have dependencies for native environments already built in and require separate development work for each version, said Glenn Weinberg, vice president of Sun's operating platforms group, in Santa Clara, Calif.

As a result, Weinberg said the Janus technology probably will not be built into the first shipping version of Solaris 10, due to be announced at an event next week, but will likely be included in the first update early next year.

To read eWEEK Labs' evaluation of early-release versions of Solaris 10, click here.

"Initially, we are focused on being able to run Red Hat [Inc.] binaries and will over time add more binaries," Weinberg said. "We currently guarantee binary compatibility between the different versions of Solaris and are certainly looking at providing the same for Red Hat, but we are not ready to guarantee that as yet."

"If we decide to [provide Red Hat legacy binary compatibility], we expect it to be available at the same time as Janus," he said. "There is no single binary standard that you can certify an application against in Linux. As long as that is the case, there can be no guarantees about application compatibility."

Officials for Linux distributor Novell Inc. said Linux binaries should be compatible under LSB (Linux Standard Base) 2.0. "The [LSB] system will make sure this is the case. Nearly all application vendors are using identical binaries for SuSE Linux Enterprise Server and other Linux vendors," said Holger Dyroff, vice president for product management for SuSE Linux at Novell, in Nuremberg, Germany.

Some enterprises running both Solaris and Linux believe Janus is critical for there to be any chance of a bigger installed base for Solaris.

"It used to be that Linux had to be chameleonlike and make itself appear like other platforms, such as Solaris, to advance up the enterprise. Now, Linux is the main Unix game in town, and Solaris has to be like Linux to survive," Con Zymaris, CEO of IT services company Cybersource Pty. Ltd., in Melbourne, Australia, told eWEEK.

Cybersource runs Solaris platforms, but Linux is "just as good and totally open-source and available on many and varied hardware platforms," said Zymaris. "For our firm, there's no great advantage in Solaris being able to run Linux binaries. ... Almost all the major systems we need to run on Solaris are open-source and ... available as native Solaris versions now."

According to Zymaris, Sun is going down the native Linux binary path to capture as many of the closed-source, Linux-only enterprise applications as possible that are flooding the market. He said vendors can use LSB to ensure their Linux binary package is broadly compatible.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at



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