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Sun Microsystems Inc. is getting closer to making its Open Solaris project, along with the final pieces of Solaris 10, a reality.

At its quarterly SunNetwork Conference, to be held at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif., Nov. 15, Sun will unveil Open Solaris and give final pricing and other details for Solaris 10. The Santa Clara, Calif., company is also expected to announce an annual subscription-type licensing model for Solaris 10, due by year’s end.

Many Solaris users have been able to get a number of the latest features and code updates for Solaris 10 through the Software Express Program, which started in September 2003.

Click here to read about eWEEK Labs’ early testing of Solaris 10.

Thomas Nau, head of the Communication and Information Center’s infrastructure department at the University of Ulm, in Germany, has been running Solaris Express on Advanced Micro Devices Inc.-based production machines for six months and is pleased with the results.

“A couple of new features like DTrace, zones and resource management, as well as the security enhancements, have really made our lives easier without breaking compatibility,” Nau said. The department uses zones for all its trainees, rather than having to deploy individual machines as in the past, he said.

Sun executives are expected to use the conference to share more details about Open Solaris. Sun plans to introduce a succession of pilot/beta programs for Open Solaris that will get larger over time. The first limited beta began last month, giving some developers and others in the open-source community access to a limited number of drivers and some code.

Sources speculate that the Open Solaris rollout will be slow. “Sun could easily formally announce the Open Solaris program in November, including the type of open-source license, the goal of the program and the timeline, yet only make the bits available later this year or even next year,” said a source close to the project.

John Loiacono, Sun’s executive vice president for software, said that the company is on track to open Solaris by year’s end. “The code will be ready, the legal aspects will be ready, and the licensing model will be ready and will be approved by the Open Source Initiative,” he said.

But anyone hoping for specific information about the interoperability work between Sun and Microsoft Corp. will be disappointed, sources said. The vendors are focusing on linking their respective directory servers—Sun’s Java Enterprise LDAP Directory and Microsoft’s Active Directory—to provide single-sign-on capabilities for companies using both servers, but Sun spokesperson Jacki DeCoster said no date for a joint progress announcement has been set.

“Both companies’ engineers are working on complex technical challenges to achieve positive results that will benefit our mutual customers,” DeCoster said. “Sun and Microsoft collaborated on several key Web services efforts—the submission of the WS-Addressing specification to the [World Wide Web Consortium] and a new management Web services specification. This represents a significant milestone in collaboration between the two companies to further advance Web services technology and to broaden convergence of this essential component of Web services.”

The University of Ulm’s Nau welcomes those initiatives but wants the work done quickly. “Getting both worlds together, not just for sign-on but also for two-way transparent file services, would eliminate a 10-year-old problem,” he said.

Additional reporting by Michael R. Zimmerman

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