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Sun Microsystems is set to license OpenSolaris under the upcoming GNU General Public License Version 3 in addition to the existing Common Development and Distribution License, sources close to the company have told eWEEK.

OpenSolaris currently is licensed only under Sun’s CDDL, but company executives have previously floated the idea of a dual license with GPLv3.

Sources told eWEEK that this is very likely to happen after the release of that version of the GPL, which currently is being rewritten and is expected to be made final soon.

“The next version of Solaris will include things like GNU Userland, which is already being attempted with OpenSolaris, while open-source solutions from other communities for things like package management also look very promising. Dual-licensing OpenSolaris with GPLv3 could make this even easier,” said a source who declined to be named.

Will OpenSolaris and Linux soon be trading code? Click here to read more.

“DTrace and the Solaris SMF [Service Management Facility]—a framework that handles system boot-up, process management and self-healing—will also lead to really useful development and management tools unlike those available today on any other operating system,” the source said.

“Moreover these things are scriptable and could easily be tied into the business management processes used by an organization to account for and manage their IT resources,” the source said.

While Sun officials would not confirm the plan to dual-license OpenSolaris under the CDDL and GPLv3, Tom Goguen, vice president of Solaris software at Sun, told eWEEK that other open-source technologies will play a big role in Solaris going forward.

“Take the GNU Userland, which is an interesting piece of technology that Sun is looking at closely, and we may do something similar with, say, a container flavor,” he said.

“You can also expect to see a renewed focus on the needs of developers and system administrators with Solaris going forward, while individual pieces of the next version will also likely be increasingly delivered first as components or technologies targeted at vertical markets,” he said.

The key is making these technologies easy to drop into an established network, where they would not be intrusive or damaging and where people could continue to work the way they are used to, but that have open-source software and standards at the back end, Goguen said.

Click here to read about the 128-bit Zettabyte File System in Solaris 10.

“The combination of DTrace [the dynamic tracing facility built into Solaris], containers and then hypervisors will change the way we look at, use, write applications for and manage general-purpose operating systems,” he said.

“With DTrace we can deliver much more interesting sets of telemetry data—data that supports the business processes. Imagine the kind of useful real-time information that DTrace on a Solaris-based storage box could give you about who is using what and when. DTrace is a differentiator for Sun that will provide us with real advantages in this space,” he said.

Sun also made virtualization improvements to Solaris 10—the most current version of its operating system—in the recent release of its third update, which includes adding Logical Domains and enhanced Solaris Containers.

Logical Domains allow customers to dynamically provision and run up to 32 instances of the operating system on each UltraSPARC T1-based system, Goguen said.

Solaris Containers, which run inside the Logical Domain instances, allow the isolation of software applications and services, so that many private execution environments can be created within a single instance of Solaris.

“Customers can detach, clone and move containers for greater utilization of system resources, simplified testing and deployment, and improved application security,” he said.

Read more here about the release of the third update to Solaris 10.

Peder Ulander, Sun’s vice president of software marketing, said the company’s plans for Solaris include far tighter integration of the operating system to the hardware and the applications that run on top of it, as well as creating new appliances and optimized virtualized application stacks.

Sun’s goal is to create both a virtualized operating system for optimized, virtual appliances or application stacks, and a data center operating system, he said.

Next Page: Sun’s labs.

A lot of this work, designed to drive innovation in Solaris, is taking place in Sun’s labs and through its work with open-source technologies, Ulander said.

Work under way in Sun’s labs includes how to better integrate the operating system with the underlying hardware to give extreme optimization and a unique design that can not be duplicated using the open-source Linux operating system, he said.

“For example, we were able to take a two-way box and smack on 500 terabytes of storage because of certain features in Solaris and its file system, and create a kick-ass end server around it. You just can’t get the same level of scale and flexibility and performance by taking Thumper [the Sun Fire X4500 hybrid storage/server appliance] and loading Linux on it,” he said.

Goguen confirms that Sun’s lab staff is working on “all sorts of interesting new technologies that will ultimately find their way into future versions if Solaris. I also believe that the closer the software attaches itself to the application or application stack, the better it distinguishes itself,” he said.

Click here to read more about Sun Labs.

The operating system needs to be more locked to applications going forward, which will play out in a variety of scenarios like server appliances sitting on top of the hypervisor, Goguen said.

But the management of that virtualization environment remains a big issue, and Sun is acutely aware that it needs to deliver tools and services for this, which can then also be leveraged by application developers, he said.

While Sun’s DTrace technology will provide the telemetry and services across the entire software stack, the company is also working on interesting technology on the storage front, such as delivering devices that look like an NAS device but that can also be a big storage system with a device attached, he said.

Ulander noted that Sun’s software teams are also working far more closely with the key players on the systems side of the company’s business to create new market-shifting devices such as appliances that need this tight integration of the operating system to the server.

But, with regard to tight integration of the operating system to the application, “this is where the interesting story around virtualization comes in. When you think about a dynamic data center where resources are shifting—the grid is a great example of transactional-based changes within the infrastructure to support some type of demand, be that from the application, user or storage system,” Ulander said.

To read about how Solaris 10 is set to get Xen support, click here.

The challenge here was to create optimized, virtual appliances or optimized application stacks, where the packages that the user does not need have been removed and that give the user a two to three times improvement in performance of over what he would get with a regular application running on top of a regular operating system.

“That becomes an image that can be blasted down, on demand, to some virtualized environment. When you couple the hardware and software innovation together, you have a pretty compelling enterprise and telco story, and the idea here is that you are creating a virtualized operating system and a data center operating system,” Ulander said.

Creating things for Solaris like CoolThreads, true hardware optimization, and unique new products like Thumper and others helped create the ideal virtualized data center for a user, while taking advantage of the high-availability, robust features traditionally seen in a mainframe type of product, he said.

The benefit of open-source development is that it lets ISVs quickly take operating systems and optimize stacks to create turnkey appliances that provide a higher level of reliability, availability and performance because there are fewer moving parts.

“So this is then done from a horizontal, rather than vertical, scale perspective,” Ulander said. “If you don’t innovate the operating system to do those things, all you have is Linux, running on those inefficient Intel boxes.

“My guess is, given that Larry [Ellison, CEO of Oracle] has increased his focus on Red Hat and building his own Linux, that he wants to build one of those stacks himself using Linux. But people can do the same thing with Solaris,” he said.

Click here to read why Larry Ellison says Oracle knows what’s best for Linux.

This optimization could also be partner-led, ISV-led, Sun-led or customer-led. For its part, Sun is planning to do this, not only with some of its own application stacks, but also with some open-source stacks, Ulander said.

“But Sun does not compete with its partners, so are we going to go out and build an Oracle killer? No. But you will see some opportunistic plays where we might go and do something with open source, like creating an open-source application stack for telecom providers. We are going to be very specific about the markets we go after,” he said.

Goguen said all of this is part of what “will make us compelling to people building out the next generation of Web applications and services that will serve the SMB [small and midsize business] market. As the operating system evolves, and because it is open source, this makes it more likely that someone will leverage Solaris technology to provide products and/or appliances into the SMB market,” he said.

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