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November 29, 1993

BINARY COMPATIBILITY PACKAGE MODULE SHOULD GET MOST SPARC APPLICATIONS UP UNDER SOLARIS 2.3

By CBR Staff Writer

Getting users up from previous operating system releases to the current product has been a long haul for SunSoft Inc. The BCP Binary Compatibility Package it is now bundling with the latest Solaris 2.3 release – shipping since the beginning of the month – means that most of the 8,500-odd applications up on Solaris 1.x (SunOS 4.1) should now run under the System V Interface Definition 3-compatible Solaris 2.x releases without modification. Back in July, SunSoft had managed to sell only 250,000 Solaris 2 licences – most of which were shipped as part of Sparcstation and server orders, not as upgrades – indeed it was even forced to retrofit Solaris 1.1 on its Sparcclassic workstations. At that time, just 350 applications had been converted and were running native under Solaris 2.0. Jim Billmaier says that 100,000 Solaris 2.0 licensees have been added since then, and that some 1,300 applications have now been converted and are running natively. The majority of the other 7,000-odd claimed to be available for Sparc should now run unchanged, he says. The problem, it appears, is that SunSoft erroneously believed most application developers were using dynamic links to libraries, not static links, and so didn’t include support for static bindings in Solaris 2.0. The Binary Compatibility Package is designed to fix that, providing support for static linking, and ensures, says Billmaier, that any application developed for Sparc will run under Solaris 2.x, as long as it observes application development guidelines laid down for Sparc. That means that it must not, for example, make unrecognised system calls or write system files to the kernel. The problem, one source says, is that some of the most popular Sparc applications do just that.

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