While all of the Solaris excitement at Phoronix as of late has been around Solaris Express Developer 1/08 and the forthcoming release of OpenSolaris 2008.05, today Sun Microsystems has announced the immediate release of Solaris 10 5/08. This update to their Solaris OS includes major enhancements for those running Intel hardware, a number of new features, updated applications, the introduction of Solaris OnDemand, and updated drivers.
Much of the marketing materials surrounding Solaris 10 5/08 have to do with the Intel improvements found in this release, thanks to the collaboration going on between Sun and Intel for the past year. This collaboration has led to Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Support for Solaris 10, fault management support for Predictive Self-Healing, optimized support for Intel processors running Solaris OS, xVM virtualization optimizations, and new graphics and networking driver support. Intel has also released a microcode update utility for Solaris users as well as support for Intel 4965 WiFi, Advanced Management Technology (AMT), I/O Acceleration Technology (IOAT), and a multitude of other Intel innovations. Solaris 5/08 should also now support Intel's Xeon 5400 processors "out of the box" as well as AMD's Opteron 2300 Quad-Core processors. Support for Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology, or the dynamic adjusting of the CPU frequency and voltage depending upon the CPU load, had appeared in Solaris Express Developer back in version 9/07, but this is the first Solaris 10 release sporting this technology to reduce heat output and conserving battery-life. Intel's SpeedStep has been supported on Linux now for several years through cpufreq.
SATA ATAPI support in the AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) driver is another new hardware improvement with Solaris 10. Now Serial ATA CD/DVD drives can operate in AHCI mode instead of relying upon the compatibility mode set from the motherboard's BIOS. In addition, the AHCI driver finally supports NCQ for disk drives. Native Command Queuing support should yield faster SATA disk drive performance under certain environments. Sun's hardware compatibility test suite, SunVTS, has also been updated. SunVTS 7.0 includes support for purpose-based testing, improved diagnostics effectiveness, web-based user interface support, simplified usage, new architecture framework, and an enterprise view.
For flashing the firmware of devices within Solaris 10, Sun Microsystems has created a new utility. This new utility is called fwflash and allows updating firmware images of PCI-X and PCI Express HBA/HCA devices. This utility, fwflash, is also able to dump the firmware from a device into a file.
Outside of the hardware realm, Solaris 10 5/08 adds Solaris OnDemand, which Sun describes as "a software as a service (SaaS) program that enables independent software providers (ISVs) to convert their on-premise applications to on-demand web-based services in 90 days or less. When ISVs join Solaris OnDemand they can work with Sun and hosted service providers to tune their products for maximum scalability, security, and cost savings." This new release also brings support for Solaris Containers running virtualized environments of Solaris 8 and Solaris 9. This will allow Solaris customers to migrate to Solaris 10 on the host systems while continuing to run Solaris 8/9-dependent applications within a virtualized environment. On the matter of virtualization, an update to Solaris Containers now delivers a feature that Sun describes as "CPU Capping", or enabling an absolute (but adjustable) limit to be set on CPU usage for a virtual project or zone. Solaris OS now ships by default with the Solaris Trusted Extensions packages.
Solaris 10 5/08 contains a PPD (PostScript Printer Description) utility for managing these printer-related files for the Solaris printing subsystem. This utility currently supports adding a new PPD file, labeling a group of PPD files within the repository, and updating the cache of the PPD file that is used by the Solaris Print Manager. Continuing on the printing side, this Solaris 10 update also supports client-side support for the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) even with printing services running on Linux and Mac OS X platforms.
For Solaris 10 desktop users, the 5/08 update includes new versions of many applications. Among these desktop applications are StarOffice 8, Adobe Flash Player 9, NetBeans 6.0, and Pidgin 2.0. As an equivalent to Window's 7zip, p7zip has been integrated into the Solaris 10 stack. On the X side of things, Solaris 10 5/08 marks the inclusion of both an Xvnc server and client (vncviewer).
As Solaris 10 is Sun's bread and butter, the 5/08 release doesn't yet include some of the features available through OpenSolaris and even Solaris Express Developer 1/08 from this past January. Some of these features include libvirt support for Sun xVM, X.Org 7.3 with RandR 1.2, Project Caiman installer, or even the RadeonHD driver for supporting newer ATI/AMD graphics cards. The big features, however, in Solaris 10 5/08 are the Intel optimizations, Predictive Self Healing, and Solaris OnDemand. For those looking at the cutting edge innovations on the Solaris front, the release of OpenSolaris 2008.08 (better known as Project Indiana) should occur within a few weeks. If that's the case, you may also be interested in BeleniX 0.7 and its innovations on top of the Indiana stack. Sun's JavaOne and CommunityOne conferences are taking place in early May, but unfortunately, we will not be covering either event this year.
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