I'm sure most of you already know this, but it's funny that no one mentioned that it used to be known as SunOS. When they had the name changed, a lot of people complained about Solaris not being as reliable as SunOS. They were also accused of marketing hype, and with good reason, because soon after, they jumped from Solaris 2.7 to Solaris 7. The Jargon File entry under "Slowlaris" explains some of this well.

I've heard that Linux SPARC blows Solaris away in terms of speed, but I have absolutely nothing to back that up.

To be completely correct, Solaris is an operating environment. The kernel is still SunOS even though it is regularly referred to as Solaris. Take the following output from a Solaris 7 system running SunOS kernel version 5.7:

# uname -a
SunOS myhostname 5.7 Generic_106541-12 sun4u sparc SUNW,Ultra-Enterprise-10000

Solaris encompasses the kernel, the suite of tools provided to a user and the login environment such as CDE.

See SunOS, Solaris and how they relate

"Solaris" is the Russian science fiction film of the novel by Stanislav Lem. The film was produced in the early 1970's by the Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky.

Often compared to Kubrick's 2001, Solaris is a much more brooding, sinister movie, with much of the vivid imagery left to the viewer's imagination. A truly atmospheric film with several moments of cinematic genius.

Anyone who says they love films should see this one.

Another part to the topic of node your homework, my translated summary of Stanislaw Lems Solaris. It is one of his most popular novels, many call it his best as well. It is a definite must read for any science fiction enthusiast (and for others as well, of course), so if you intend to read this book on your own, be warned that there are spoilers ahead.

Please take note that this is a translation of my work (from a german text), and while pfft did great work in improving this wu's grammar (thanks!), some errors still might linger about.

Solaris (Stanislaw Lem, 1961)

The story is built around the planet Solaris, which circles around both a blue and red sun through space. Because of the interferring gravital influences of the two suns, the path of the one orbiting planet changes quickly (on an astronomical scale) which results in extreme temperature fluctuations on the planets surface. That is the reason why it would be impossible for life to evolve, since eventual primal germs are killed early.

Why Solaris started to be interesting for scientists was due to the fact that the planet was supposed to be change its path, but strangely it didn't. The planet circles the two suns in an almost perfectly steady path. Expeditions which started to the planet discovered that the planet is almost completely covered by an ocean which consists of a gelatinous matter. No trace of life was found either on the small patches of solid land nor in the ocean. Later the scientists found out that ocean itself somehow managed to steer the planets path and keep it steady. Due to the complexity of this task, the scientists were forced to accept that the ocean is an organic lifeform and imposes a certain intelligence.

During the following years the enourmous amount of theories, hypotheses, analyses and research reports evolved into an own branch of science, the "Solaristic". Some of the theories are so fantastic, that they should be assigned to the area of mystics and metaphysics. On Solaris a research station is installed, which floats above the ocean. With its help it should be attempted to establish a contact with the ocean.

The protagonist of the novel, Kris Kelvin, is sent from Earth to the station to determine if the research success is enough to keep it active. When he arrives, it is occupied by only two scientists. Gibarian, head of the station and former mentor of Kelvin, commited suicide only shortly before. Dr. Snaut is half insane due to his paranoia and Dr. Sartorius avoids human contact whenever possible. When Kelvin first meets Snaut, he warns Kelvin that strange phenomena happen on the station.

Only a few days later Kelvins former wife Harey, who committed suicide 10 years ago, appears to him. Kelvin still accuses himself of being guilty of her death. At first he thinks that he is dreaming, however soon it becomes clear that Harey, despite she doesn't bear any knowledge how she arrived at the station, and that it already 10 years since her death, is very well alive. However, she does differ from a normal human in certain points: she has an superhuman strength which shows as she rips a door out of its hinges. She is not invulvernable, but even the severest wounds heal at an astounding speed. The last strange fact is that Harey always has to stay near Kelvin, because otherwise she is haunted by an obscure fear.

The other scientists are visited by similar "guests", as Snaut calls them. While Sartorius tries to conceal this fact, Snaut tries to avoid to talk about them whenever possible.

It becomes obvious that the guests are creations of the ocean, which brings the deepest personal feelings of guilt of the station's crew to life. Kelvin starts to suspect that the reason for Gibarian's suicide was the presence of those guests. Nobody knows if this is an attempt of the ocean to establish a contact to the humans or even a way of psychological warfare.Kelvin is forced to spend most of his time with Harey, since even the attempt to lock her in a rocket and shoot her in an orbit around the planet only results in her reappearing a few hours later in the station, without any memory of this or other events on the station. Kelvin has serious problems to master this situation. He knows that the person he can see is not his former wife Harey, but a product of the ocean, which is the reason that he often acts cool and rejective. On the other hand, he is attracted to her in a strange way. Harey herself also feels that Kelvin only tolerates her, often puts an act on her. She recognizes that she no longer is what she once was and tries to end her existence. However, even the attempt to burn herself with liquid oxygen fails due to her enormous bodily regeneration. Together with the other scientists Kelvin searches for another method to destroy the guests. At last, they build the so called "annihilator" which should dissolve the matter of the guests on the subatomic layer. The attempt succeeds and Harey disappears and never returns. Still the scientist fail to establish a contact with the ocean.

The tragedy of this story is that Harey, while not physically human, acts, feels and thinks like a human. She is no evil avenging angel or succubus, as can be seen by her suicide attempt, in which she tries to free Kelvin from his pain. While she is a tool of the ocean, even a torturing instrument to the guilt-tormented Kelvin, Harey herself is absolutely free of guilt.

This space-based shoot 'em up for the Atari 2600 is quite advanced for its time. It features several different screens, alternating between flying past planets and flying over the surfaces of planets. The more impressive, complicated part comes when you complete a level, either a fly through, or a fly over, and get to choose which stage you want to attempt next.

You are presented with a grid of 48 squares containing 'sectors.' You can move through some sectors, others are blocked by star clusters, and still others contain levels of different sorts. These levels consist of one of the following: wormholes, cobra fleets, Kogalon star pirates, corridors, blockaders, Zylon planets, Federation planets, attack groups, or flagships. You can also move to an adjacent screen by using one of the exit points located on each edge of the map.

The storyline, according to the booklet, is that the Zylons are attempting to take over the galaxy. You are the pilot in a StarCruiser and although your stated mission is to find the lost planet Solaris and rescue the Atarian Federation Pioneers there, you are really out to destroy the Zylons. That being said, once you fight your way through the different types of enemies on the 16 different screens and find the planet Solaris (the blinking planet, maybe the same planet in the eponymous novel by Stanislaw Lem), the game will end. Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

Date: 1986
Rarity:2 Common+ / U
Model Number: CX26136
Programmer: Douglas Neubauer

References: Solaris Atari 2600 Game Manual

Released: November 2002
Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Screenplay by: Steven Soderbergh
Adapted for film from the book by: Stanislaw Lem
Running time: 1 hr 39 mins
Taglines: "There are some places man is not ready to go." and "How far will you go for a second chance?"

Having seen this remake of Soderbergh's and after having read tzu's synopsis of the book, I must say that Soderbergh did a superb job of staying true to both the original movie and the book's plot. There are a couple of elemental twists and liberties that Soderbergh took with his adaptation, but my personal impression is that his additions, in no way, undermined the story at its core. If anything, he helped to enhance the storyline.

The set design, cinematography and direction were superb, in my honest opinion- nothing like what you'd expect to see in a Sci-Fi epic a'la Star Trek. It's dark, eerie, insightful, psychological and very thought-provoking. There were some scenes that distinctly reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey- scenes where Kelvin is approaching the space station in a shuttle and all we can hear are the ambient sounds generated by the ship he is riding in; the absence of music throughout most of the film; the pristine look of the station's interior that made it look incredibly empty while still seeming eerily ominous, despite the bright lighting. All of the technology seemed appropriate and not at all gratuitous.

George Clooney did, after all, play the role of Kris Kelvin with a surprising degree of effect, the only departure from the original character being that Kelvin, in this movie, was a psychologist sent to the station in an effort to discover why the Solaris crew had severed communications with Earth and refused to come home. His performance was well executed and left me, a member of the audience, with the impression that the character was truly as haunted by the death of his wife as he was supposed to be. When Kelvin was first introduced to the "reincarnation" of his late wife, his reaction seemed entirely believable and even realistic. He seemed appropriately shocked, surprised and confused. The slapping of his hands, the reluctance to directly look at her at first, his hesitation to even talk to her went a long way towards illustrating that he was experiencing the impossible. Clooney turned out an amazingly good performance. None of that "hey, look at me! I'm a pretty boy" stuff here. Good, solid, hard acting. And his delivery of dialogue (which served as the backbone for this movie) was impressive to say the least. Nothing seemed rushed at all, which was refreshing.

The role of Kelvin's wife, name changed to "Rheya", was played by Natascha MacElhone. MacElhone's performance was equally gratifying. Her character seemed just as haunted by the past as Clooney's and it was, in a way, fascinating to watch her come to the realization on her own that she is not quite human. The presence of super-human strength was not covered in the film, however the remarkably fast regenerative properties of these mysterious guests was shown rather handily. The character of Rheya was shown to be more tragic than anything. Since she was constructed from her husband's strongest and last memory of her, she was fated to be suicidal by nature, which seemed a severe stumbling block. Coupled with Kelvin's obvious discomfort in her presence did not help to put her suicidal tendencies to rest. If anything, her husband's emotional distance only exacerbated her guilt and subsequent suicide attempts (which failed the first time, but the second time stuck- in this movie adaptation, Kelvin was reluctant to send her to the "annihilator" due to his new-found love for this version of his wife. Realizing that she was not truly the wife of Kris Kelvin and only a dark shadow of her, Rheya had herself destroyed). MacElhone's portrayal of this character, in short, was tragically beautiful.

The other two major supporting characters did their jobs exceedingly well. Snow, played by Jeremy Davies (of Saving Private Ryan), was actually the "Snaut" character from Stanislaw Lem's book. And the role of Helen Gordon, played by Viola Davis, was the Dr. Sartorius character from the original book. Dr. Gibarian, whose named remained the same, was played by Ulrich Tukur and only appeared for a few moments in the beginning of the movie via a video transmission meant for Kris Kelvin. Upon reaching the station Kelvin discovered that his old mentor and friend, Dr. Gibarian, had committed suicide and later learned that the reason had something to do with the appearance of Gibarian's son on the station.

The major themes of the movie seemed to focus on guilt, redemption and atonement for perceived wrongs. The only real drawback that I saw to the movie was that the ending left me with more questions than answers. I was somewhat confused and ambiguous about the ending plot twist, which has undercurrents of something major, but I couldn't get a handle on what really happened.

All in all, it was a very fine film. Sadly, its performance in the box office is lacking, which seems a tragedy. This movie had the soul of great science fiction and showed it to the proverbial "T."

Source: The Internet Movie Database: www.imdb.com

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