Intro to Solaris

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  • DevynCJohnson
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    • @devyncjohnson

    Solaris (sometimes called "Oracle Solaris") is a Unix operating system made by Sun Microsystems. Solaris superseded SunOS in June 1992. Solaris is currently owned by Oracle (which acquired Sun Microsystems) and contains both open-source and closed-source code.

    NOTE: At the time of writing this article, Solaris is still an up-to-date/modern operating system that Oracle maintains. Solaris v11.3 was released October 26, 2015.

    Solaris is written in C/C++ and is a System V Release 4 Unix system. This operating system uses a monolithic kernel and dynamically loadable modules (like Linux). Solaris is SPARC, x86, and x86-64 compatible and is suitable for use as a workstation or server (including the cloud). Solaris (as of version 11.2) has an integrated hypervisor. Like many modern operating systems, a graphical user interface is supported. Solaris commonly uses the "Java Desktop System" (JDS) which is based on GNOME2. However, CDE or GNOME2 can be used instead of JDS.

    Solaris supports commonly used applications such as Mozilla Firefox, XMMS (music player), OpenOffice, etc. WINE supports Solaris, therefore, users can run Windows programs on Solaris (

    Often times, new software/programs are added to Solaris by compiling source code. However, the "pkgadd" command (similar to "rpm" or "dpkg" on Linux systems) is used to install pkgadd files (which use the "AT&T SysV" format). For instance, to install a local package file, type pkgadd -d /PATH/TO/PKG.

    Solaris is installed on an UFS filesystem by default. Solaris can also read and write UFS, UDFS, and ISO-9660 (optical discs). The system also supports network filesystems such as SmbFS (Samba) and NFS. The /tmp/ directory uses the TmpFS pseudo-filesystem. Solaris does not support NTFS. However, FAT16 and FAT32 are supported as PCFS. To mount a FAT16 or FAT32 filesystem (such as a memory card) type mount -F pcfs DEVICE-FILE DIRECTORY-MOUNTPOINT in a command-line. To create a FAT32 filesystem (format) type mkfs -F pcfs -o fat=32 DEVICE-FILE.

    Solaris is typically used as an Enterprise-level operating system. Solaris works well as a database center and file-server. However, it can be used as any time of server or desktop/workstation system. Solaris has support for many helpful features such as OpenStack, enterprise-level cloud virtualization, and hardware-assisted cryptography (on Oracle’s SPARC systems).

    Solaris supports the ZFS filesystem which provides transparent compression and encryption.

    Some alternatives to Solaris include OpenIndiana, OpenSolaris, Illumos, and others.

    Further Reading


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