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The History Of The Solaris Operating System

Updated: June 12, 2021

Solaris was released in 1992 and pushed aside its previous operating system, SunOS. Since its creation, Sun’s operating system has been in a pitched battle against Linux, as both are either UNIX-based or UNIX-like. But while Sun’s operating system has received many accolades and boasts some impressive features, it has taken a back seat to Linux, and Sun announced in 2010 that illumos, a fork of the Solaris kernel, would soon receive the company’s full attention. As a result, the end is coming for the legendary operating system, but not for many years yet. And many companies are reluctant to make the shift to Linux for a few reasons. Back in the late 80s there were several popular versions of UNIX on the market, including Xenix, BSD, and System V.In an effort to consolidate the best features of the three and make a more robust version of the technology, AT&T and Sun agreed to collaborate on UNIX System V Release 4 (SVR4), which would be one of the first commercial variants of UNIX at the time. In 1991, around the same time that Linus Torvalds was perfecting Linux, Sun announced that it would phase out its BSD-derived UNIX and shift to a version built off of SVR4. Released the following year, Solaris would quickly become a powerful option for businesses looking for an operating system that could handle enterprise applications. Unfortunately, licensing issues would undermine the technology to some extent. In 2005, Sun decided to release the operating system’s codebase under its own proprietary license, the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL). While this opened the door for other developers to improve on the operating system, the CDDL was a controversial decision, as it is generally incompatible with other free licensing programs – most notably the GNU General Public License (GPL). And in 2010, following the acquisition by Oracle Corporation, the OpenSolaris open source project, as it was known, was discontinued after some internal frustration with it. Although Sun was already planning on rolling out illumos, canceling the project was seen by many to be anti-open source. With Linux making its open source nature a primary selling point, the move may have come off as shortsighted. Even with its fading popularity, though, Solaris is still a highly robust operating system that pairs best with the company’s SPARC systems, though it is also compatible with an array of x86-based servers. In particular, companies running the OS appreciate its DTrace and ZFS features. DTrace allows for real time tracing and problem troubleshooting, and is capable of providing highly granular data that allows for more accurate analysis. ZFS is a proprietary volume manager and file system that provides additional defense against data corruption, and also provides a bevy of features, including better data compression, snapshots, regular integrity checks, and automatic repair. Many IT departments swear by these features, along with the excellent performance that Solaris provides overall, which is why it will likely maintain a strong presence up to the moment it is no longer supported by Sun. Let SourceTech help you find the perfect server for your business. Contact us today!