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The increasing prominence of freely licensed Linux has prompted many to view operating systems in general as a commodity. With Solaris 10, Sun Microsystems hopes to demonstrate that a company’s choice of operating system does matter and that the level of innovation Sun has built into Solaris 10 can deliver benefits across a company’s infrastructure.

eWEEK Labs has been testing early-release versions of Solaris 10 through Sun’s Software Express Program, in which beta versions of Solaris 10 are available for free download.

Based on the time that we’ve spent with Solaris 10, we believe the system is a much more attractive option for enterprises than previous versions—not only because of the operating system’s increased functionality but also because of Sun’s more inclusive platform strategy: At launch, Sun will ship Solaris 10 for the x86, SPARC and Advanced Micro Devices’ AMD64 platforms.

Click here to read about Sun’s plans to open-source Solaris.

DTrace is one of the best examples of how Solaris 10 takes advantage of the central position of the operating system in an enterprise’s computing infrastructure. DTrace is a diagnostic tool that opens a window to the inner workings of Solaris 10 and any application running on it—in a finer-grained manner than any other utility of which we’re aware. What’s more, DTrace can be used safely on running systems; this allows system administrators to locate performance bottlenecks in production settings, something not generally possible with tools of this type.

Click here to read more about DTrace and how it works.

Also impressive in our Solaris 10 testing so far is the operating system’s N1 Grid Container feature, which lets administrators run multiple applications, each in its own sandbox, on a single system. This feature, similar to the “jails” found in FreeBSD, is good for isolating applications for security reasons or when applications require conflicting libraries.

During testing, we’ve found N1 Grid Containers easy to set up and certainly much faster to reboot and update than full systems or virtual machine instances.

Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at

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