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Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:JAVA) today announced a major new update to its OpenSolaris operating system. Technically called OpenSolaris 2009.06, the new release includes enhanced networking, virtualization and storage capabilities for the open source operating system.

The new release is not considered by Sun to be a replacement for its flagship Solaris 10 operating system, though Sun is now extending commercial support for OpenSolaris 2009.06 for up to five years. The 2009.06 release comes at a critical time for Sun and is likely the last OpenSolaris release before Sun isacquired by Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) later this year.

“This is really a transparent development step toward the next generation of the Solaris platform,” Dan Roberts, director of product management datacenter software marketing at Sun, told InternetNews.com. “Initially, OpenSolaris had a developer-and desktop-centric flavor, but in this release we’ve moved from just desktop and developer to a datacenter-capable mission-critical operating system.”

OpenSolaris first debuted in 2005 as Sun’s effort to build the next generation of Solaris in the open. It is updated frequently, with the last major release,2008.11, out last November. With OpenSolaris 2009.06, Sun is adding something that it calls “Project Crossbow,” which is a major rewrite of the Solaris networking stack to support greater speeds. Project Crossbow also…. Read more

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