I received a comment the other day from James McGovern pointing me to a link on his blog where he has a list of outstanding questions. I've taken the time to do a bit of research (it is Christmas after all so things are a bit quieter) and this is what I've found:
A: I can't think of any good reason other than possibly cost and trends. The following points come to mind:
That said, STMicroelectronics have apparently created a single core version of the UltraSPARC T1 (the world's first GPL'd CPU) called the "S1" which "...can run Ubuntu Linux, and targets embedded devices such as PDAs, set-top boxes, and digital cameras...".
Watch this space - the T1 is an awesome processor that a lot can be done with. And by the fact it has been released under the GPL, we should see a lot more people seriously considering it.
What's more, Sun is effectively entering into part of the appliance market (granted it's x86 not SPARC), specifically the storage market at the moment, with things like the X4500 (aka Thumper).
A: I believe Sun does. Sun has quite an OEM following (though not to the scale of Intel, ARM or IBM), so there's got to be something there. Why not drop the OEM team a line or two to find out more.
A: I have no idea and wouldn't like to hazard a guess. The notion of "king of the hill" is also very circumstantial and dependent on what area within the appliance market you're referring to. Take the home appliance market, AEG would like the market to think it's king of washing machines or fridges, whilst Pace would like the market to think it's king of satellite receivers.
A: Minimization has always been a bone of contention when it comes to support at Sun. However things have changed and there's a lot more talk and agreement on the concept of minimization.
A good place to start would be Infodoc 86177 (requires a login).
There's also a fair bit of activity over at the appliances community on this exact question (I believe started by James in some way too).
Glenn Brunette lays down a good foundation for a minimal Solaris 10 build and Eric Boutilier has also a series of posts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7) on building a minimal Solaris OE - whilst not entirely supported, it's certainly a good read.
A: It depends. If you're referring to using the Active Directory for authentication and authorization with LDAP or Kerberos, then you can already and this is all nicely documented in a document by Microsoft.
If you're using "winbind" on your AD server then you've got no choice but to use Samba and I believe the Samba supplied with OpenSolaris now works with AD (I stand to be corrected, I've not tested this). Some how I don't think Sun will ever implement "winbind" natively given Microsoft's reputation for sharing code.
A: I don't believe so. Essentially, if it works in the global zone, then it should work in the local zone, with a few exceptions - you've got to keep in mind what you can and can't access from the local zones, and also the fact that there's a single kernel, and accordingly, anything that taps into the kernel, like device drivers, can only be run from the global zone. Check the developer docs for more details. There's also tons of stuff on the Developers Network.
A: Yes and no. Yes it's been shown to work in the lab and with certain publically available code. No in that this code hasn't been integrated into the OpenSolaris codebase. See the XEN community for more details.
A: Yup. Both of these have been a feature Solaris as far back as I can remember (even on x86).
A: I couldn't answer that, I'm not a lawyer. I'd check the license T's & C's of the OS and maybe contact the Sun legal department.
A: If there's the demand for it, I'd say there's merit. There's nothing stopping you from creating your own port in much the same way as people are doing for the PowerPC architecture (see the PowerPC community). I suppose the biggest limiting factor is getting enough interest.
Well, those are my answers. I stand to be corrected if I've missed something obvious. The ultimate place to go to get answers for all you questions is probably the many forums on OpenSolaris.org.
Oh, and naturally, these are my opinions and points of view and don't necessarily reflect those of Sun Microsystems.