Although Sun was initially known as a hardware company, its software history began with its founding in 1982; co-founder Bill Joy was one of the leading Unix developers of the time, having contributed the vi editor, the C shell, and significant work developing TCP/IP and the BSD Unix OS. Sun later developed software such as the Java programming language and acquired software such as StarOffice, VirtualBox and MySQL.
Sun used community-based and open-source licensing of its major technologies, and for its support of its products with other open source technologies. GNOME-based desktop software called Java Desktop System (originally code-named "Madhatter") was first distributed as a Linux implementation then offered as part of the Solaris operating system. Sun supported its Java Enterprise System (a middleware stack) on Linux. It released the source code for Solaris under the open-source Common Development and Distribution License, via the OpenSolaris community. Sun's positioning includes a commitment to indemnify users of some software from intellectual property disputes concerning that software. It offers support services on a variety of pricing bases, including per-employee and per-socket.
A 2006 report prepared for the EU by UNU-MERIT stated that Sun was the largest corporate contributor to open source movements in the world. According to this report, Sun's open source contributions exceed the combined total of the next five largest commercial contributors.Operating systems Main article: Solaris (operating system)
Sun is best known for its Unix systems, which have a reputation for system stability and a consistent design philosophy.
Sun's first workstation shipped with UniSoft V7 Unix. Later in 1982 Sun began providing SunOS, a customized 4.1BSD Unix, as the operating system for its workstations.
In the late 1980s, AT&T tapped Sun to help them develop the next release of their branded UNIX, and in 1988 announced they would purchase up to a 20% stake in Sun. UNIX System V Release 4 (SVR4) was jointly developed by AT&T and Sun; Sun used SVR4 as the foundation for Solaris 2.x, which became the successor to SunOS 4.1.x (later retrospectively named Solaris 1.x). By the mid-1990s, the ensuing Unix wars had largely subsided, AT&T had sold off their Unix interests, and the relationship between the two companies was significantly reduced.
From 1992 Sun also sold Interactive Unix, an operating system it acquired when it bought Interactive Systems Corporation from Eastman Kodak Company. This was a popular Unix variant for the PC platform and a major competitor to market leader SCO UNIX. Sun's focus on Interactive Unix diminished in favor of Solaris on both SPARC and x86 systems; it was dropped as a product in 2001.
Sun dropped the Solaris 2.x version numbering scheme after the Solaris 2.6 release (1997); the following version was branded Solaris 7. This was the first 64-bit release, intended for the new UltraSPARC CPUs based on the SPARC V9 architecture. Within the next four years, the successors Solaris 8 and Solaris 9 were released in 2000 and 2002 respectively.
Following several years of difficult competition and loss of server market share to competitors' Linux-based systems, Sun began to include Linux as part of its strategy in 2002. Sun supported both Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on its x64 systems; companies such as Canonical Ltd., Wind River Systems and MontaVista also supported their versions of Linux on Sun's SPARC-based systems.
In 2004, after having cultivated a reputation as one of Microsoft's most vocal antagonists, Sun entered into a joint relationship with them, resolving various legal entanglements between the two companies and receiving US$1.95 billion in settlement payments from them. Sun supported Microsoft Windows on its x64 systems, and announced other collaborative agreements with Microsoft, including plans to support each other's virtualization environments.
In 2005, the company released Solaris 10. The new version included a large number of enhancements to the operating system, as well as very novel features, previously unseen in the industry. Solaris 10 update releases continued through the next 8 years, the last release from Sun Microsystems being Solaris 10 10/09. The following updates were released by Oracle under the new license agreement; the final release is Solaris 10 1/13.
Previously, Sun offered a separate variant of Solaris called Trusted Solaris, which included augmented security features such as multilevel security and a least privilege access model. Solaris 10 included many of the same capabilities as Trusted Solaris at the time of its initial release; Solaris 10 11/06 included Solaris Trusted Extensions, which give it the remaining capabilities needed to make it the functional successor to Trusted Solaris.
Following acquisition of Sun, Oracle Corporation continued to develop Solaris operating system, and released Oracle Solaris 11 in November 2011.Java platform Main article: Java platform
The Java platform was developed at Sun in the early 1990s with the objective of allowing programs to function regardless of the device they were used on, sparking the slogan "Write once, run anywhere" (WORA). While this objective was not entirely achieved (prompting the riposte "Write once, debug everywhere"), Java is regarded as being largely hardware- and operating system-independent.
Java was initially promoted as a platform for client-side applets running inside web browsers. Early examples of Java applications were the HotJava web browser and the HotJava Views suite. However, since then Java has been more successful on the server side of the Internet.
The platform consists of three major parts: the Java programming language, the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), and several Java Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The design of the Java platform is controlled by the vendor and user community through the Java Community Process (JCP).
Java is an object-oriented programming language. Since its introduction in late 1995, it became one of the world's most popular programming languages.
Java programs are compiled to byte code, which can be executed by any JVM, regardless of the environment.
The Java APIs provide an extensive set of library routines. These APIs evolved into the Standard Edition (Java SE), which provides basic infrastructure and GUI functionality; the Enterprise Edition (Java EE), aimed at large software companies implementing enterprise-class application servers; and the Micro Edition (Java ME), used to build software for devices with limited resources, such as mobile devices.
On November 13, 2006, Sun announced it would be licensing its Java implementation under the GNU General Public License; it released its Java compiler and JVM at that time.
In February 2009 Sun entered a battle with Microsoft and Adobe Systems, which promoted rival platforms to build software applications for the Internet. JavaFX was a development platform for music, video and other applications that builds on the Java programming language.Office suite
In 1999, Sun acquired the German software company StarDivision and with it the office suite StarOffice, which Sun later released as OpenOffice.org under both GNU LGPL and the SISSL (Sun Industry Standards Source License). OpenOffice.org supported Microsoft Office file formats (though not perfectly), was available on many platforms (primarily Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Solaris) and was used in the open source community.
The principal differences between StarOffice and OpenOffice.org were that StarOffice was supported by Sun, was available as either a single-user retail box kit or as per-user blocks of licensing for the enterprise, and included a wider range of fonts and document templates and a commercial quality spellchecker. StarOffice also contained commercially licensed functions and add-ons; in OpenOffice.org these were either replaced by open-source or free variants, or are not present at all. Both packages had native support for the OpenDocument format.Virtualization and datacenter automation software VirtualBox, purchased by Sun
In 2007, Sun announced the Sun xVM virtualization and datacenter automation product suite for commodity hardware. Sun also acquired VirtualBox in 2008. Earlier virtualization technologies from Sun like Dynamic System Domains and Dynamic Reconfiguration were specifically designed for high-end SPARC servers, and Logical Domains only supports the UltraSPARC T1/T2/T2 Plus server platforms. Sun marketed Sun Ops Center provisioning software for datacenter automation.
On the client side, Sun offered virtual desktop solutions. Desktop environments and applications could be hosted in a datacenter, with users accessing these environments from a wide range of client devices, including Microsoft Windows PCs, Sun Ray virtual display clients, Apple Macintoshes, PDAs or any combination of supported devices. A variety of networks were supported, from LAN to WAN or the public Internet. Virtual desktop products included Sun Ray Server Software, Sun Secure Global Desktop and Sun Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.Database management systems
Sun acquired MySQL AB, the developer of the MySQL database in 2008 for US$ 1 billion. CEO Jonathan Schwartz mentioned in his blog that optimizing the performance of MySQL was one of the priorities of the acquisition. In February 2008, Sun began to publish results of the MySQL performance optimization work. Sun contributed to the PostgreSQL project. On the Java platform, Sun contributed to and supported Java DB.Other software
Sun offered other software products for software development and infrastructure services. Many were developed in house; others came from acquisitions, including Tarantella, Waveset Technologies, SeeBeyond, and Vaau. Sun acquired many of the Netscape non-browser software products as part a deal involving Netscape's merger with AOL. These software products were initially offered under the "iPlanet" brand; once the Sun-Netscape alliance ended, they were re-branded as "Sun ONE" (Sun Open Network Environment), and then the "Sun Java System".
Sun's middleware product was branded as the Java Enterprise System (or JES), and marketed for web and application serving, communication, calendaring, directory, identity management and service-oriented architecture. Sun's Open ESB and other software suites were available free of charge on systems running Solaris, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, HP-UX, and Windows, with support available optionally.
Sun developed data center management software products, which included the Solaris Cluster high availability software, and a grid management package called Sun Grid Engine and firewall software such as SunScreen. For Network Equipment Providers and telecommunications customers, Sun developed the Sun Netra High-Availability Suite.
Sun produced compilers and development tools under the Sun Studio brand, for building and developing Solaris and Linux applications. Sun entered the software as a service (SaaS) market with zembly, a social cloud-based computing platform and Project Kenai, an open-source project hosting service.