Yesterday Sun Microsystems officially released OpenSolaris and suggested that it's going to go head-to-head with Linux as a Desktop Operating System. Solarisx86 is nothing new and has been around about as long as Linux but it is historically proprietary and closed source. It was also very hardware-finicky and performance was slothlike.
OpenSolaris is a new way of thinking for Sun who've just purchased MySQL and VirtualBox--two of my favorite pieces of software--being sucked-up by perhaps my least favorite tech company next to Microsoft. Although Sun, unlike Microsoft, sees the writing on the wall for traditional operating systems like Solaris.
I think it's too late for a newcomer like OpenSolaris to make any significant contribution to the Desktop OS market. 10 years ago--for sure, 5 years ago--maybe, but now? It's just too little too late. Traditional Desktop computing is changing too quickly for a fledgling OS to gain any ground unless it's embedded or gadget-related.
OpenSolaris is cute, free, x86-based, and open source but a contender for the firmly established Linux market? Nope. Not a chance. Though it may have an easier time seeping into the propeller-headed geek's basement network, don't expect to see it in stores near you anytime soon. Sorry Sun, your supernova is no more than a white dwarf.
[Author's Note: OpenSolaris also hopes to compete in the Server space with Linux but here I am addressing the Desktop issue exclusively.]