In an overture to what it thinks is an army of independent developers working in their bedrooms and university laboratories, Sun Microsystems is offering for free the binaries of its Solaris operating system for non-commercial and educational use.
"We are seeing an uptick in interest in developing in [the Solaris] environment," said Brian Croll, director of product marketing for Solaris. "We want to exploit this interest, build on the momentum, and get people doing fun innovative work on Solaris."
The use of the binaries will allow for development of applications running on Solaris, but the offer does not open Solaris source code to development.
Croll said that Sun is most interested in encouraging amateur developers who are doing work in the areas of Internet and network computing. Although many such projects are currently taking the form of games, chat rooms, and smaller-scale Java development, "I have a feeling [developers] will come up with things I can't even think of right now," Croll said. "We want to encourage that level of creativity."
Croll said that although Sun sees most work being done on Java on client-side applications, the availability of Solaris proper and its Java Development Kit (JDK) to amateur developers should spur server-side Java development.
For the cost of media, shipping, and handling, Sun will provide a non-commercial Solaris license for use on Sparc or Intel platforms, to academic institutions and amateur enthusiasts. The software can be used for teaching, research, software development, and testing.
The new program complements Sun's current offer of free Java development tools for teaching and is being conducted through the Sun Developer Connection program.
In addition to Solaris binaries, developers can access development tools and use of the Sun Developer Connection Web site's training, tutorial, and technical information sections, as well as Sun Developer News quarterly developer updates.
Noncommercial developers can order Solaris at http://www.sun.com/developers. Students, educators and researchers can place an order at http://www.sun.com/edu/solaris.