The Solaris operating environment offers value-added components in addition to the SVR4-based operating system. These make computing easier and create new opportunities for users, system administrators, and developers.
In general, the merge of established UNIX variants into SVR4 and the Solaris operating environment was done by consolidating the existing functionality while maintaining compatibility for existing applications. As a result, features and commands were added or withdrawn in some cases.
For users, the Solaris operating environment incorporates a suite of powerful DeskSetTM applications to enhance personal productivity. All DeskSet applications rely on the drag-and-drop metaphor, enabling users to carry out complex UNIX commands with a mouse. Some of the features are:
Calendar Manager. A time management application that displays appointments and ToDo items for a day, week, or a month at a glance. It also contains a multibrowse feature that makes scheduling meetings among a group of users easy. Multiple calendars can be overlaid simultaneously to determine convenient meeting time slots at a glance.
A 64-bit Solaris application and operating environment (SPARC platforms only) for developing 64-bit applications, allowing new 64-bit applications to manipulate large address spaces, and running a larger number of existing 32-bit applications.
Device information. Administrators can use these optional utilities to obtain information about installed devices including device names, attributes, and accessibility. Administration can be simplified by creating device allocation pools, a feature not previously found in UNIX systems.
File system administration. These utilities enable administrators to create, copy, mount, debug, repair, and unmount file systems; create and remove hard file links and named pipes; and manage volumes.
Interprocess communication. Two interprocess communication utilities create, remove, and report on the status of the system's interprocess communication facilities (message queues, semaphores, and shared memory IDs). They provide information helpful in tuning the system.
Process management. The process management utilities help you control system scheduling. Using these utilities, you can generate reports on performance, logins, disk access locations; and seek distances to better tune system performance. In addition, you can change the system run level, kill active processes, time the execution of commands, and change the default scheduling priorities of kernel, timesharing, and real-time processes.
User and group management. With these utilities, a system administrator can create and delete entries in group and password databases, specify default home directories and environments, maintain user and system logins, and assign group and user IDs. The utilities support both primary and supplementary user groups.
Admintool. Admintool, which runs under the OpenWindowsTM environment, provides system management facilities to help add hosts, manage the network, and perform many other routine tasks on local systems.
Auto configuration. The Solaris operating environment has a dynamic kernel, which means that it loads drivers and other modules into memory when the devices are accessed. You no longer need to rebuild the kernel after installation, nor must you add or remove drivers.
Security. The automated security enhancement tool (ASET) is a utility that improves security by allowing system administrators to check system file settings including permissions, ownership, and file contents. ASET warns users about potential security problems and, where appropriate, sets the system file permissions autonomically according to the specified security level.
AnswerBook2 man page format. Man pages are available in AnswerBook2 (SGML), rather than AnswerBook format. This provides improvements in navigation and links to man pages directly from other AnswerBook2 documents.
Multithreaded (MT) kernel. MT provides for a symmetric multiprocessing kernel where multiple processors can execute the kernel at the same time. Applications can be structured as several independent computations rather than as one thread of control. Independent computations execute more efficiently because the operating system handles the interleaving of the independent operations. This benefit of multithreading is known as application concurrency.
Expanded fundamental types. ID data types (uid, pid, device IDs, and the like) and certain other data types are expanded to 32 bits. This improves the scalability of the operating system in large systems and for use in large organizations.
Device driver interfaces. There are three types of interfaces for Solaris device drivers: device kernel interface (DKI), device driver interface (DDI), and the device driver interface/device kernel interface (DDI/DKI). DDI/DKI conformance means that device drivers have better source and binary compatibility across SPARC platforms so developers can write one driver to support a peripheral on all SPARC platforms.
Device configuration library. The libdevinfo library, used to obtain device configuration information, has been made more robust and comprehensive in Solaris 7 software. For more information, see the man page libdevinfo(3).
Dynamic linking. The Solaris application environment supports static and dynamic linking of libraries. The linker uses the version numbers of the libraries and executables to link applications with the proper libraries, routines, and interfaces.
Operating environment. Supports a 32-bit application and operating environment for developing 64-bit applications and running a large number of existing 32-bit applications. Also supports a 64-bit application and operating environment for developing 64-bit applications, allowing new 64-bit applications to manipulate large address spaces and running a large number of existing 32-bit applications.
WebNFS Software Development Kit. The WebNFS Software Development Kit (SDK) provides remote file access for Java applications using WebNFS. Since it implements the NFS protocol directly, it requires no NFS support on the host system.