Years into project, Sun releases Linux-on-Solaris software

Sun's BrandZ technology, which lets Linux applications run on a virtual slice of a Solaris x86 installation, is finally ready for prime time.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Expertise processors, semiconductors, web browsers, quantum computing, supercomputers, AI, 3D printing, drones, computer science, physics, programming, materials science, USB, UWB, Android, digital photography, science Credentials
  • I've been covering the technology industry for 24 years and was a science writer for five years before that. I've got deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and other dee
Stephen Shankland
2 min read

In a new update called 8/07, a long-awaited feature of Sun Microsystems' Solaris 10 has finally arrived: the ability to run Linux software on x86 machines.

Sun originally billed the technology as one of the standout features of Solaris 10, which the company launched in 2005, but the company went back to the drawing board before unveiling it. The first version of Solaris 10 also introduced a technology to slice a single version of the operating system into separate, largely independent "containers," and the second incarnation of the Linux-on-Solaris technology, called BrandZ, puts the Linux applications in a separate container. BrandZ is officially called Solaris Containers for Linux Applications.

Sun initially billed the feature as a way to lure back Linux customers who had defected from the Solaris environment. However, most expect the feature to appeal chiefly to died-in-the-wool Solaris shops who have need for some Linux applications.

But techies enticed by another Solaris 10 feature, DTrace, might be more interested. DTrace lets programmers perform sophisticated debugging or system administrators find performance bottlenecks--and they can use production systems that don't have to be rebooted to enable special features. Linux containers on Solaris means developers can peer at their Linux software's inner workings, though not Linux itself. (Linux fans are working on their own version of an equivalent technology.)

Currently, Solaris containers can run Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 applications. Red Hat released RHEL 3 in 2003. But customers should take a deep breath before migrating apps: it's up to software companies to certify their software for use on the new foundation.

The new Solaris also includes the PostgreSQL 8.2 open-source database, which runs about 20 percent faster than its predecessor and supports probing with DTrace. And it includes faster network performance, the company said.

Also Tuesday, Sun announced a partnership with VMware that permits central servers to run software remotely that otherwise would be run on desktop PCs. The software, called Sun Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Software 1.0, costs $149 per user and will be available in October.