Sun begins open-source Solaris era

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The company plans to post more than 5 million lines of source code for the heart of the operating system--its kernel and networking code--at the OpenSolaris Web site, said Tom Goguen, Solaris' marketing chief. However, some source code components will arrive later, such as installation and some administration tools.

If all goes according to Sun's plan, Solaris won't just be a product of the roughly 1,000 programmers inside the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company. "The work inside the firewall will begin to happen outside the firewall," Goguen said.

Solaris is a widely used version of Unix that gained prominence during the dot-com frenzy of the late 1990s. But its star has fallen as that of Linux, an open-source rival that's similar in many ways to Unix, has risen.

Linux, IBM and Red Hat have been instrumental in elevating Linux. At the same time, Microsoft's Windows continues to grow in use. Like Linux, Windows is at home on mainstream servers using x86 processors such as Intel's Xeon and Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron, models Sun has only recently incorporated.

By making Solaris open-source, Sun hopes to engage developers such as students who become tomorrow's computer administrators and buyers. More developers means more users, more partnerships with software companies and eventually more developers.

But competing with Linux is tough.

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