Question: The Difference between Sun OS and Solaris

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I am still waiting for my Solaris 10 Media kit although I have received an email from Sun. I have very little experience using Sun Solaris. In our IDC I see more than 100+ of boxes running Solaris and Oracle. So far, I have used HP-UX and Red Hat/Debian/Suse Linux and Windows 2000/2003 ;). Anyways when I will get media kit my journey with Solaris will begin.


At the movement, I am not at all clear about the difference between Sun OS and Solaris. Whenever I try to read man page I see term SunOS. Even wikipedia failed to provide any information. My current understanding is as follows:

  • SunOS = old BSD based OS and not available anymore (but Sun use term in man pages)
  • Solaris = SunOS + CDE-GUI + Other enhancements

Anyone have any more information…


Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

3 comment

  1. Sun obfuscated this when they came out with Solaris.

    SunOS = the OS
    Solaris = SunOS + windowing + bundled stuff

    Solaris 2.x == SunOS 5.x
    SunOS 4.x retro named Solaris 1.x

    uname will give the SunOS version which is what the man pages say.

    Generally when people say SunOS, they mean the 4.x version based on BSD. When they say Solaris they mean the SysV based version.

    Clear as mud ‘eh?

  2. Rocky,

    SunOS were originally based on the AT&T SVR4.0 flavor of Unix, it is some sort of proprietary System V Release 4-based UNIX. SunOS Version 4.0 was the last one and now replaced by Solaris OS.

    Between why don’t you download Solaris or Open Solaris DVD. VSNL has good pipe after all 😉

  3. To add to what nixcraft said above…

    In the beginning, Sun Microsystems was based on BSD. It moved to what Rocky has stated above after it developed a relationship with AT&T.


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