Sun Microsystems on Monday was giving away packaged copies of OpenSolaris in an effort to seed the development community with a Linux alternative and boost the number of available applications for the platform.

The news came at CommunityOne, Sun’s free developer conference collocated with JavaOne this week at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

“Sun's goal is to get the technology into as many developer hands as possible,” said Ian Murdock, head of Sun’s operating system platform strategy in his keynote speech at the conference. Murdock—founder of Debian Linux and former CTO of the Linux Foundation—was hired by Sun last year to run Project Indiana, an endeavor to “to make OpenSolaris (and, by extension, Solaris) more familiar to Linux users,” according to his blog entry from that time.

OpenSolaris was then little more than a kernel. While its enterprise credentials were beyond question, kernels alone don’t do much for developers seeking a platform. On Monday, the project announced OpenSolaris 2008.05, which encompasses a desktop environment packaged on a live CD that can be booted and experienced without the need to install it on a system. It also launched, where images of the live CD can be downloaded.

The release also reportedly introduces the Image Packaging System, a repository-based software delivery system that can install from a network. OpenSolaris uses ZFS as its root file system, which offers snapshots and rollback capabilities among its numerous technology advances.