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Inside Solaris Express

August 19, 2004

Since a few people in various forums have been asking about it, I thought I’d explain a little about how Solaris Express works. I know the story best from the kernel side, but keep in mind there are other parts of Solaris — Java, the X server, etc. — that have slightly different processes.

In kernel development we cut a build of Solaris 10 every two weeks; these are numbered s10_XX (for example, Solaris Express 7/04 is s10_60). Those take a week or two to coagulate into the WOS (Wad Of Stuff) which combines the kernel with the latest cut of the X server, gnome, etc. We spend another week or three making sure there’s nothing too toxic in that build and release it in the form of a Solaris Express build. The lag time between when the build cuts and when it hits the streets in a Solaris Express build is usually about 4-6 weeks. We’re about to release Solaris Express 8/04 (s10_63) and we just cut s10_66 on Monday. Note that Solaris Express isn’t some release which we spend extensive time polishing; unless there’s some real tragic problem, you’re using the same bits that I’m using on my desktop. Since we cut a build every 2 weeks, we choose the best, most stable of the two or three builds since the last Solaris Express release, but usually it’s the latest stuff. It can be pretty daunting to know that once you integrate a change into Solaris there’s very little time to make sure its right — we take a lot of pride in making sure Solaris is stable not just for every release of Solaris Express, but every numbered build and, in fact, every nightly build.

As far as what to expect in future releases, I have some hints for DTrace here, but other than, that I think you just have to bite your nails and wait for the release notes. I will tell you that SX 9/04 is going to be exciting — check out Stephen’s weblog for why.

As I mentioned, SX 8/04 will be out very soon. Check out my DTrace Solaris Express decoder ring to see what new DTrace features are in this release (hint: -c and -p are way cool). Dan Price has written up a great description of all the stuff that’s new in Solaris Express 8/04.

3 Responses

  1. As of 12:20 EST, 23rd Aug, SX 8/04 is not downloadable yet from Solaris Express. After I logged in and went to the actuall download page, only 7/04 was avaliable. Maybe 8/04 has not been uploaded yet?

  2. Simply put, Solaris isn’t for SMB. Why?

    No graphical installer.
    No graphical admin tools.

    Yes, I just downloaded the latest and installed it on a Dell 400SC to see what’s up

    Compare Solaris to Red Hat or SUSE and Solaris feels primitive. It may work better, but Sun continually misses the mark. There are hundreds of thousands of SMB consultants and systems types who won’t touch Solaris because it’s too difficult to install and learn how to administer.

    When Solaris is based on YAST, then Sun will be ready for the market. Until then, Solaris is another niche product.

    It really is a windows world, you either compete with windows or go away. Linux has learned that, Sun hasn’t.

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