OpenSolaris and NetBeans Featured at CommunityOne

Sun Microsystems plans to make several product and partner announcements today at its CommunityOne Developer event. CommunityOne is a "pre-event" that precedes the annual JavaOne conference, which is happening this week in San Francisco. CommunityOne focuses on a variety of open source communities, both Sun and non-Sun.

One highlight will be Sun's joint announcement with the OpenSolaris community of the immediate availability of the OpenSolaris operating system. Sun relicensed its Solaris OS as open source code about two years ago, and it's had several releases since that time. However, this release will be the first one that provides full production support and global distribution for the open source product, which is based on the Solaris kernel.

OpenSolaris Under the Hood
OpenSolaris represents a "massive advancement," according to Stephen Lau, OpenSolaris governing board member, in a statement.

"It combines the strong foundation of Solaris technologies and tools with modern desktop features and applications developed by open source communities such as GNOME, Mozilla, and the FSF." The OS provides an ideal environment for students, developers, and early adopters looking to learn and experiment with innovative technologies, he added.

This new release (2008.05) of OpenSolaris comes with the new Image Packaging System (IPS). The IPS is designed to simplify and speed installation and integration with third-party applications, according to Dan Roberts, director of Solaris and OpenSolaris marketing.

"This is a network-based, network-aware packaging system with full dependency-checking capabilities," he said. "It makes it possible to slim down the operating system and makes it very simple for folks to get up and started quickly and easily. You get a LiveCD for installation, and then you can customize and configure the environment."

OpenSolaris 2008.05 is also the first OS to use ZFS as its default file system. Introduced in Solaris 10, ZFS file systems are built on top of virtual storage pools, enabling instant roll-back and continual check-summing capabilities.

Dynamic Tracing (DTrace) is also part of the OS. DTrace is designed to allow developers to observe running systems at production or during development, what Sun calls "pervasive observability." This version of DTrace comes with a graphical user interface called DLight. This release also supports Solaris Containers, an implementation of operating system-level virtualization technology, which was also first made available in Solaris 10.

OpenSolaris 2008.05 is available now for download at the OpenSolaris Web site.

Elastic Compute Cloud Availability
The OpenSolaris community is also set to announce that, starting on Monday, its namesake operating system will be available on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud, better known as EC2. Still in beta, EC2 is a Web service designed to provide resizable computing capacity in the cloud. Through EC2 Web services interfaces, users request an arbitrary number of virtual machines called Amazon Machine Images, onto which they can load applications, libraries, data and associated configuration settings.

"Until now, the only choice the Amazon developer community had was Linux," said Juan Carlos Soto, vice president of global market development and engineering. "This also gives OpenSolaris developers more options for running their code in cloud computing environments."

The first OpenSolaris-EC2 services will be available to developers in private beta, accessible via invitation only, Soto said.

"This is the first time we've ever had Solaris in any kind of scale on the Amazon environment, and we really want to make sure we deliver the best experience possible," he said. "We'd rather go a bit slower and get it right, but we'll open it up to any Amazon EC2 developer, soon."

A few companies are already offering their solutions via Amazon Machine Images for OpenSolaris on Amazon EC2, including GigaSpaces, Rightscale, Thoughtworks and Zmanda.

NetBeans 6.1 and PHP Support
Meanwhile, the NetBeans community is set to roll out NetBeans 6.1 today. This version of the IDE includes some new features for developing AJAX Web apps using JavaScript. It also provides tighter integration with the MySQL database, which Sun recently acquired.

At the same time, Sun and the NetBeans community are jointly announcing an early access build of new support within the NetBeans IDE for the PHP scripting language. The feature is designed to give so-called Web 2.0-style developers a reason to consider the open source IDE, said Gregg Sporar, Sun's technical evangelist on the NetBeans project.

"Historically, NetBeans was an IDE for Java developers only," Sporar said. "But that has been changing for several years. This PHP support is a continuation of that trend. This is another community that we want to allow to leverage the features and functionality that we've got for developers using Java, C/C++, Ruby, JavaScript and others."

The population of PHP developers has grown rapidly in the past few years, thanks to the popularity of dynamic Web 2.0 applications. By some estimates, they now number in the millions.

NetBeans 6.0, released in December of last year, included support for the dynamic language Ruby and the Rails framework (Ruby on Rails) for the first time.

"After we did that, I'd talked to Ruby developers who had never even considered NetBeans," Sporar said. "They had no interest in the IDE because we simply didn't address their needs. Adding this support to NetBeans allows us to bring these tools to a much larger audience."

A download of NetBeans 6.1 is available now at the NetBeans community Web site.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].