Sun and the OpenSolaris community have jointly launched the first official version of the open-source OpenSolaris operating system.

Also arriving from Sun is the NetBeans 6.1 open source IDE and a pre-release version of NetBeans for PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) developers.

Launched at the CommunityOne conference in San Francisco, OpenSolaris 2008.05 features packaging capabilities intended to make it more attractive to users of the rival Linux platform. Linux binary release capabilities in OpenSolaris are derived from an effort known as Project Indiana. These capabilities now are referred to as the OpenSolaris Image Packaging System.

The packaging system simplifies installation and integration with third party applications.

"It's a major milestone where we're putting [the OS] out there for end-users fully supported," said Jim McHugh, vice president of Solaris marketing.

Based on the Solaris kernel, OpenSolaris incorporates features such as ZFS (Zettabyte File System), offering instant rollback and check-summing, which makes sure data does not get corrupted. ZFS is the default file system, linking to the basic components of the OS. Another capability, Dynamic Tracing (DTrace), provides predictive self-healing capabilities.

Solaris Containers within OpenSolaris enable building of virtualisation-aware applications that can be deployed on more than 1,000 systems ranging from single machines to multi-CPU and multi-core systems.

Other capabilities in OpenSolaris include the Gnome 2.20 desktop look and feel and Compiz open-source window application.

OpenSolaris upgrades are to be released every six months. began as an open-source project started by Sun in 2005 to build a developer community around Solaris. The OpenSolaris OS serves as a platform for developing features to be rolled into Sun's own commercial version of Solaris.

Asked about redundancies in Solaris and OpenSolaris and why there needs to be two similar products, McHugh said there are companies running their database on Solaris who are likely to continue to do that.

"I think there's a case where they're happy on Solaris 10," said McHugh.

As part of the OpenSolaris announcement, Amazon and the OpenSolaris community are announcing that OpenSolaris will be available in a hosted fashion via Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud). Customers can access the product without having to purchase the hardware to run it.

"It's a flexible model for developers who are looking for a quick [place] to run apps," without having to use their own datacentre, said Juan Carlos Soto, Sun vice president of global market development and engineering.

Developers could, for example, build Web 2.0 applications requiring a web presence and serving many users. OpenSolaris on Amazon EC2 will be available Monday in a limited beta form.

Sun and the NetBeans community are announcing availability Monday of an early access release of a NetBeans IDE to work with PHP. The NetBeans IDE Early Access for PHP offers intelligent editing capabilities, such as prioritised code completion and dynamic code templates.

Support for PHP follows a path of expanding NetBeans to work with more languages than Java, said Greg Sporar, Sun technology evangelist for NetBeans. C, C++, and Ruby support have been added in previous releases.

"It's not just a Java IDE anymore. It hasn't been for a long time," Sporar said. The general release of the PHP IDE is planned for this fall.

With the NetBeans 6.1 IDE release, Sun adds capabilities for developing AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) applications using JavaScript. Tighter integration with the MySQL database also is highlighted. JavaScript code can be written to run in such browsers as Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Internet Explorer.

"We also have added some nice features for people doing Web services development in Java," via new REST (Representational State Transfer) support, Sporar said. Developers can access REST-style APIs, such as those offered by Google and Yahoo.

Also featured in version 6.1 are faster startup and code completion, a new Ruby platform manager and support for IBM's Rational ClearCase version control system.

NetBeans improvements also are being revealed at CommunityOne, a precursor to the JavaOne conference.