27 years ago Sun had released its own version of the Unix namely SunOS. Nine years later it was renamed Solaris. With its ever expanding user base, Solaris happened to be one of the most popular Unix based OS known for its security, reliability and compatibility. In 2005 Sun took the decision of sharing the source code of Solaris and thus was born OpenSolaris.

The graphic user interface of OpenSolaris is based on the GNOME architecture. This is the same desktop environment used by many Linux distributions and thus Open Solaris is often confused with Linux. OpenSolaris is distributed under the Common Development and Distribution License. OpenSolaris is distributed for free just like Linux but it is quite different. While Linux distributions such as Fedora and Ubuntu are based on the Linux kernel, OpenSolaris has its own Solaris kernel. Nevertheless both are POSIX compliant,the industry standard for Unix like operating systems. OpenSolaris proves itself a worthy competitor to Windows and Linux in many aspects. It offers many features unavailable in Windows or any Linux flavour.

Installing applications on OpenSolaris is just a breeze with its Image Packing System. It is an application manager which scourges for applications online or through LAN and installs them without any hassles. OpenSolaris also boasts of the best file system available in any OS, the ZFS File system. One of the most advanced and most scalable file systems ZFS boosts the performance of OpenSolaris greatly. The file system is 128 bit which means it can support upto 256 quadrillion zeta bytes of storage! Another unique feature of OpenSolaris is the Time Slider. With the help of the superior ZFS file system it takes regular snapshots of files. Thus accidentally deleted files can be easily recovered. Virtual machines are just not enough for OpenSolaris, the all new Crossbow feature enables you to create your own virtual network. Thus multiple network interface cards can be created with their own MAC and IP addresses.

OpenSolaris is simply a god send for developers. It comes with preloaded with a set of developer tools unavailable in other OSs. Writing and debugging programs has never been easier. A unique feature which appeals to developers is DTrace. DTrace is an application which enables one to probe any working program in real time to understand its inner workings. There are about 60,000 probes available and the number keeps growing. This greatly helps a developer in reverse engineering a software code. There is also Service Management Facility which helps in managing services in the background.

OpenSolaris also comes with its own set of fun items. Compiz Visual Effects, which comes preloaded, is useful in creating funky 3D environments. There is also Elisa, an open source media centre tailored for OpenSolaris.

OpenSolaris is a fun and intuitive OS with some of the latest innovation packed under its hood. The reason its open source is not just to distribute it for free but for people to actually contribute to its development. So head to http://www.opensolaris.com and give it a try.