Wiki: Solaris

Solaris Operating Environment

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Solaris is a computer operating system developed by Sun Microsystems. It is certified as a version of UNIX; although Solaris proper is still proprietary software, many core components have made their way into an open source CDDL version, OpenSolaris.

During the 1980s, Sun's version of UNIX, SunOS, was based on BSD UNIX. In the early 1990s, Sun replaced SunOS 4 with a version of UNIX System V Release 4, jointly developed with AT&T. This was marked by changing the marketing name of the operating system to Solaris 2; however, the term "SunOS" was still used to refer to the underlying operating system itself, and Solaris is considered to be the SunOS 5 operating system plus a graphical user environment, ONC+, and networking and other components.

The SunOS 5 minor version included in earlier Solaris releases corresponds to the minor Solaris version number. For example, Solaris 2.4 incorporated SunOS 5.4. After Solaris 2.6, Sun dropped the "2." from the name, so SunOS 5.10 forms the core of Solaris 10.

Confusingly, around the same time as the launch of Solaris 2, Sun also started labeling the later (SPARC) SunOS 4 releases as Solaris 1. However, this usage of the Solaris name is not common.

Supported architectures

Solaris uses a common code base for the architectures it supports: SPARC, x86 and AMD64. Solaris was also ported to the PowerPC architecture (PReP platform) for version 2.5.1, but the port was cancelled almost as soon as it was released. Solaris has a reputation for being well-suited to SMP and supporting a large number of CPUs. Sun also plans to implement part of the Linux APIs in Solaris 10, allowing Solaris to natively run Linux binaries on x86 and AMD64 systems.

Solaris is tightly integrated with Sun's SPARC hardware, and is designed and marketed as a combined package. This has often led to more reliable systems, but at a cost premium over commodity PC hardware. However, since the availability of commodity 64-bit CPUs (based on the AMD64 architecture), the latest version of Solaris, Solaris 10, has been designed with AMD64 in mind. Sun heavily marketed Solaris on x86 with its AMD64-based entry-level servers.

Desktop Environments

The first Solaris desktop environment was OpenWindows. It was followed by CDE in Solaris 2.5. Sun's Java Desktop System, which is based on GNOME, is included with Solaris 10.


Solaris's source code (with a few exceptions) has been released under the CDDL as open-source in the OpenSolaris project. Both binary and source versions are currently downloadable and licensed without cost.

Sun's Common Development and Distribution License, which was approved after review by Open Source Initiative (though incompatible with the popular GPL[2]) was selected by Sun as the license for OpenSolaris, which was seeded on June 14, 2005, from the current Solaris development code. Future releases of Solaris proper will be derived from OpenSolaris.


In descending order, the following versions of Solaris have been released (as of early 2006):

Solaris version SunOS version Release date Description
Solaris 10 SunOS 5.10 January 31, 2005 Includes AMD64 support, DTrace (Dynamic Tracing), Solaris Containers, Service Management Facility (SMF) which replaces init.d scripts, and iSCSI support. Support for sun4m and UltraSPARC I systems removed. Adds GNOME-based Java Desktop System as default desktop, CDE included.
Solaris 9 SunOS 5.9 May 28, 2002 (SPARC)
Jan 10, 2003 (x86)
iPlanet Directory Server, Resource Manager, Solaris Volume Manager, and Linux compatibility added; OpenWindows dropped, sun4d support removed. Most current update is Solaris 9 9/05.
Solaris 8 SunOS 5.8 February 2000 Includes Multipath I/O, IPv6 and IPsec. Introduced Role-Based Access Control (RBAC); sun4c support removed. Last update is Solaris 8 2/04[3].
Solaris 7 SunOS 5.7 November 1998 The first 64-bit UltraSPARC release[4].
Solaris 2.6 SunOS 5.6 July 1997 Includes Kerberos 5, PAM, TrueType fonts, WebNFS [5], Large file support.
Solaris 2.5.1 SunOS 5.5.1 May 1996 Only release to support PowerPC platform; Ultra Enterprise support added; user IDs (uid_t) expanded to 32-bits [6].
Solaris 2.5 SunOS 5.5 November 1995 First to support UltraSPARC and include CDE, NFSv3 and NFS/TCP [7].
Solaris 2.4 SunOS 5.4 November 1994 First unified SPARC/x86 release. Includes OSF/Motif runtime support.
Solaris 2.3 SunOS 5.3 November 1993 OpenWindows 3.3 switches from NeWS to Display PostScript and drops SunView support (SPARC only).
Solaris 2.2 SunOS 5.2 May 1993 First to support Sun-4d architecture (SPARC only).
Solaris 2.1 SunOS 5.1 Dec. 1992 (SPARC)
May 1993 (x86)
Support for Sun-4 and Sun-4m architectures added; first Solaris x86 release.
Solaris 2.0 SunOS 5.0 June 1992 Preliminary release, support for only Sun-4c architecture[8].

Solaris 7 and Solaris 2.6 are no longer shipping but still supported. Earlier versions are unsupported.

A more comprehensive summary [9] of some Solaris versions is also available. Solaris releases are also described in the Solaris 2 FAQ.

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