Developers from the SmartOS project announced the release of build #20180705, which promises to help spread Solaris-based software on the headless server market. Most of the media attention regarding free and open-source operating systems these days focuses primarily on implementations of GNU/Linux and *BSD.
illumos, a fork of OpenSolaris, is set to take the world by storm however. It’s perhaps best known for the unusual lack of capitalization in its name, but developers are now really promoting it as a stable Unix system for extremely secure environments.
SmartOS is a respin distro of illumos, which makes it an ideal piece of system software for deploying on underlying hardware when running virtual machines. To make VM instantiation that much easier, the current version continues to ship with the KVM application bundle installed by default.
KVM is a complete virtualization solution that can run a variety of guest operating systems. By default, it includes support for the all of the following:
• Microsoft Windows
• Plan 9 from Bell Labs
This should be more than enough for most people who are running VMs on a headless server, though some users report that Haiku and even Solaris itself run just fine inside of KVM. Zones is also offered as part of a default installation, so those who need a more lightweight solution won’t have to worry.
ZFS serves as both the default file system and a logical volume manager, which should help to reduce overhead on systems that need both. DTrace is also included by default. Developers won’t have to worry about troubleshooting application or kernel problems any longer.
What you won’t find included, however, is a desktop environment. SmartOS is supposed to run completely headless from the command line. In this kind of environment, having additional complications including an X Server or Wayland running something relatively weighty like a modern version of KDE or GNOME would just sacrifice important CPU power and RAM that’s needed elsewhere.
Generating appliances and building clouds is what SmartOS does best, so administrators who are likely to deploy the software are equally likely to find this a huge benefit instead of a drawback.