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Oracle creates new form of free Solaris

To keep FOSS developers and non-commercial users (almost) caught up with continuous release cadence

Oracle has created an additional version of the Solaris operating system it acquired in 2009, when it bought Sun Microsystems.

The new cut of the OS is called a Common Build Environment (CBE). As explained by Oracle senior software engineer Darren Moffat this week, a CBE is akin to a beta because it includes prerelease builds of a forthcoming Solaris release.

Those releases are called Support Repository Updates (SRUs) and now arrive each month. Any security fixes delivered in Oracle's quarterly Critical Patch Updates (CPUs) are delivered in SRUs.

All SRUs apply to Solaris 11.4 – the current and probably last version of the OS.

Oracle's license for Solaris already permits free use for test and development, or personal use.

But as Moffat explains in his post, the versions of Solaris that Oracle offers for free use aren't kept up to date with all the changes delivered in SRUs.

Oracle therefore sees the new CBE offering as necessary because the move to the continuous release cycle and monthly SRU release cadence has left developers without a freely licensed version of Solaris that includes recent updates.

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But the CBEs won't always be completely up to date with the code offered in SRUs.

"It is our intention to periodically deliver CBE releases," Moffat wrote. Which means that CBEs won't match either the SRU or CPU release cadence. When they do land, CBEs will include all the changes found in previous SRUs and CPUs – but could be months behind.

The free offering is aimed at open-source software developers, or non-production personal use, and is offered under Oracle's early adopter license. Upgrades to full SRUs will be possible – if users cough up for an Oracle support contract.

Oracle has pledged to keep Solaris alive and supported until the year 2034, making it one of a small number of proprietary environments with strong prospects of surviving into that decade. Fujitsu last week set 2030 as the end-of-life date for its mainframes and 2029 as the last year in which it will make SPARC servers on which Solaris can run. IBM persists with its mainframe and POWER platforms, and indeed sees them as a source of growth.

If you fancy taking a CBE for a spin, they can be downloaded here. ®

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