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Unix Operating Systems Software Linux

Unix Vendors Get Creative Against Windows & Linux 166

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the keeps-waking-up-from-sleep-earlier-and-earlier dept.
coondoggie writes "As x86 servers become increasingly capable, IT managers are taking a closer look at their Unix installations to determine whether a move to Linux or Windows might make sense, analysts say. "The defensible hill for Unix is the big, vertically scaling, mission-critical application, which is usually some type of database serving," says Andrew Butler, a vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "But increasingly, the appeal of Windows- and Linux-based systems running on cheaper, commodity hardware is becoming more and more compelling.""
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Unix Vendors Get Creative Against Windows & Linux

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  • by axus (991473) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:44AM (#17905014)
    Linux beats it in hardware support, but Sun has the whole overpriced reliability image which some might find attractive. If you're paying the big bucks you can get a good response from Sun, though I'd suspect people working on Linux could make those bucks go further.
    • by BrianRoach (614397) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:02PM (#17905312)
      Linux beats it in hardware support, but Sun has the whole overpriced reliability image which some might find attractive. If you're paying the big bucks you can get a good response from Sun, though I'd suspect people working on Linux could make those bucks go further.

      Have you actually looked at what Sun is doing these days?

      Not only are they offering AMD Opteron (And soon Intel) server and workstation solutions running Solaris 10 x86 (which is damn near feature-for-feature as Solaris 10 on Sparc), their prices have come down.

      I'm typing this on an Ultra20 Opteron workstation that I bought last year under one of their offers. 3 year service and support (Hardware and software including the dev tools) for $1k, and they bill my credit card for 3 payments over that time, no interest, no BS.

      - Roach
      • by misleb (129952)

        I'm typing this on an Ultra20 Opteron workstation that I bought last year under one of their offers. 3 year service and support (Hardware and software including the dev tools) for $1k, and they bill my credit card for 3 payments over that time, no interest, no BS.

        You paid for $1k of support for a *workstation*? Why? Ok, maybe the hardware might break and you need a replacement, but is an extended warrantee really worth $1k? What kind of "support" do you think you'll possibly need? Maybe I'm just overconf

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by BrianRoach (614397)
          "You paid for $1k of support for a *workstation*?

          Sorry - re-reading my post, it was worded badly.

          The $1k included the workstation.

          I don't know what the current pricing is on them (You could look at sun.com), but they are now always running some sort of special on various hardware.

          - Roach
      • by Daemonstar (84116)

        Have you actually looked at what Sun is doing these days?

        Yes, I have. I have Solaris 10 x86 running in a VM at work and (was running) on my machine at home; however, like the OP said, it lacks in hardware support. Comparing a simple task to Kubuntu (since that's what I am dorking around with at the moment), if you plug in a USB stick, it pops up and asks what I want to do with it. Solaris just sits there. Solaris 10 didn't recognize my NIC at home, either (it's an nForce board, AMD64). Can't do much w

        • Comparing a simple task to Kubuntu (since that's what I am dorking around with at the moment), if you plug in a USB stick, it pops up and asks what I want to do with it. Solaris just sits there.

          Huh, that's funny, when I pop in a USB stick, I get a Nautilus window (and an icon on my desktop). Which release are you running? I'm on 6/06 (the latest from Sun), my box shipped with 5/03, and it had some issues...

          Solaris 10 didn't recognize my NIC at home, either (it's an nForce board, AMD64)

          That's stranger still, since the Ultra20 is an nForce board (nForce 4, it's a tweaked Tyan S2865). Was it the built-in network card it didn't find, or a separate one?

          • by Daemonstar (84116)
            Built in; it's a DFI LanParty UT nF3 250GB. I did have to get the latest nVidia drivers even for XP x64 Pro to work correctly. The USB port was on a multi-card reader extension for the MB; that may have had something to do with it (didn't try the ports on the back). Everything else seemed to work fine, though. I actually kinda like it; I just don't care much for the default desktops. It looks really nice, just not very intuitive in some places (menus, GUI package management).

            VMWare Tools didn't inst
      • by hackstraw (262471) * on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:40PM (#17905986)
        Have you actually looked at what Sun is doing these days?

        Yes :) And Sun is refinding themselves (if that makes any sense).

        Sun used to only have a few products that were relatively expensive, but very good.

        Look at there offerings today. They have _many_ products in all shapes and sizes, and there prices have really come down in price. I've been critical of Sun for years, and they really seem to be adapting to the market by offering everything from an E15k to inexpensive x86 boxes at about commodity prices with better engineering than your COTS junk.

        Things like the x4500 [sun.com] are really turning heads (even here on slashdot [slashdot.org]).

        Today's market requires more disposable and inexpensive computers. Why pay $10k for a server today that will last for years, when in 2-3 years it is way outperformed by a $1-2k server? Answering this question took Sun a few years, but now they seem to have answered that question.

    • by dosius (230542)
      While I prefer Linux, Solaris has a big advantage. Solaris is Unix. Linux is not Unix.

      Actually, of all the freenixen out there, the closest to Solaris in Unixness is, I think, NetBSD. (So I've been porting the NetBSD userland to Linux in hopes of getting that "authentic Unix feel" on Linux.)

      Anyone know how far away NetBSD is from qualifying for UNIX certification, were someone to shell out the ca$h?

      -uso.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by thsths (31372)
        > Solaris has a big advantage. Solaris is Unix.

        So? What is Unix anyway? It is only a name, and a code base developed in the 70s and 80s.

        POSIX is what people want (although it is just a bunch of specs written by a committee). Some places suck badly, but others are quite useful. Of course most systems are POSIX nowadays, including Windows.

        Just my 2p.
    • With x86 Solaris its more important which applications run with it. The propritary Sparc Solaris apps might not have been ported by the vendor to x86 Solaris because of lack of demand. Vendors are more likely to port to Linux because of the greater installed base.
    • by segfaultcoredump (226031) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:47PM (#17906116)
      I've been using linux since '95ish (slackware something or other installed from floppies). I've been using solaris since '97 (2.5.1).

      On the topic of servers, if given a choice of what to run on x64 hardware, its Solaris 10, hands down. Device management is much easier, kernel modules are a snap to deal with (no recompile with each kernel upgrade), folks dont change schedulers as part of minor patch releases, stable API's, etc, etc. Toss in things like zones and dtrace and I'm sold (and no, uml and strace are not the same). I usually dont need crazy hardware support on my servers, just fibre channel and AMD cpu's, so the "better hardware support" of linux does not buy me anything. These are servers, not toys in my basement. When they go down, I have 1000 people calling me and yelling. Its not worth the $250 savings to go with an off-brand NIC or anything other than a qlogic FC card.

      Now, on the desktop, its linux. There availability of destop apps and hardware drivers for strange things that just work are much better (acrobat, firefox, flash, etc).

      To make things even more interesting, if you want support, Solaris is actually cheaper (compared to redhat). Dont need support? Then they both cost the same.

      I'm in the process of moving our Oracle environment from Solaris SPARC to Solaris x86/64 on a mix of Sun x4200's and HP 585's (or Sun x4600's if I can torture the sales rep enough). It involves about 60+ oracle instances that will be moved onto 4 systems. I know that solaris can deal with the load of 1000 procs all running at the same time.
       
      • by E-Lad (1262) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:22PM (#17906750) Homepage
        folks dont change schedulers as part of minor patch releases

        As an aside, you can actually run different schedulers concurrently in Solaris... each process or process group can be assinged a specific scheduler other than the default one (which is Time Share, or the "TS" scheduler).

        For example, you can run your Oracle db processes with the FX (fixed priority) scheduler, and/or another set of processes with the RT (real time) scheduler. See the priocntl command man page on how to manipulate this and details on which schedulers are available.
        • I was not thinking of the process scheduler (I use the FSS a lot for our workloads since I pile 15+ zones onto some systems), I was thinking of things a bit lower level, like the IO scheduler that was changed in a recent linux "patch". See the article linked to this recent post: http://linux.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=219814& c id=17830154 [slashdot.org] for what I'm talking about.

          Making major changes like the paging algorithm (another one that got swapped mid stream a while back) _and making them the default_ to the
          • by richlv (778496)
            well, you are not supposed to change kernel just for the fun of it unless you know what you are doing (and this involves being informed about kernel changes :) ).
            most distributions don't just upgrade kernel, usually it's one kernel for the whole lifespan of a particular version (and this can be quite a long time with commercial 'enterprise' distros).

            now, supporting distributions... on one hand, i can understand vendors - it is much easier to pick up to three defined environments and only care about single p
      • by Qwavel (733416)

        > Dont need support? Then they both cost the same.

        You are missing the fact that there is vastly more information and free help available on the internet for Linux. Since Linux (info, support, knowledge, books, etc.) is everywhere, it makes it easier to find help. On the other hand, the diversity of distro's complicates things a bit.
        • As I said, the cost is the same. I didnt say anything about the quality :-)

          As you indicated, you can find a lot more info on linux via google. However, the solution may only pertain to Distro X, and not Y (as luck would have it, I'm usually running Y). Sometimes the problem is described as generic to linux, and thus you have to perform the search without using the distro as a keyword. You also have to wade though the various kernel sub-revisions since the problem you are seeing may be fixed differently depe
      • Just be sure to watch out for the boot archive corruption problem. The new bootloader (legacy Grub) can potentially make your Solaris 10, release 2 system much less reliable than a release 1 system.

        For some reason, Grub stores a memory image of the kernel in the root filesystem. This image is loaded during the bootstrap process so that the bootloader does not have to perform I/O on the root filesystem before the kernel's available. The image gets updated via a "bootadm update-archive" when the system g

    • by teflaime (738532)
      Sorry, but Linux is no where near as mature an os as Solaris. I work on Solaris, HPUX, AIX, and 3 flavors of Linux in the environment I'm in right now, and only Solaris and HPUX cause us no OS problems at the moment. Our most stable servers are running Solaris 10 'x86 on HP DL560 servers. Our least stable machines are either IBM or Linux...IBM due to hardware and Linux due to OS issues.
  • Unix to Windows?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:50AM (#17905098) Homepage Journal
    I've worked on some huge Unix systems (mostly for databases) and never once did anyone mention Windows without laughing. No way are people with truely large-scale critical Unix servers considering switching to Windows. When you already own the hardware, paid for the software, and have huge support contracts, consider expansion with Linux. Windows is only intruding on the smaller scale Unix installations.

    Gartner is known for sometimes putting out some fluff but this just sounds silly.
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:53AM (#17905150)
      hen you already own the hardware, paid for the software, and have huge support contracts, consider expansion with Linux.

      Or expand with UNIX -- BSD and Solaris both do fine on commodity hardware. And are cleaner setups than either Windows or any Linux distro that isn't stripped down.

      -b.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by truthsearch (249536)
        Yes, that's a very good point. The largest systems I've worked on were based on Solaris anyway. So now that it's cheap and supports commodity hardware it would be a natural expansion.
    • I've worked on some huge Unix systems (mostly for databases) and never once did anyone mention Windows without laughing.

      i would imagine that is the case in many large datacenters. to paraphrase the great philosopher jules winnfield: mission critical enterprise applications are not in the same ballpark as windows and linux on x86. it's not even the same sport.

      the one big shop i worked for in central ohio used mainframes, unix, and windows. mainframes for a lot of legacy data (like stuff from the 70's

      • by drsmithy (35869)

        i would imagine that is the case in many large datacenters. to paraphrase the great philosopher jules winnfield: mission critical enterprise applications are not in the same ballpark as windows and linux on x86. it's not even the same sport.

        I'd be quite willing to bet money that Microsoft runs most - if not all - of their "enterprise" on Windows-based machines, and that they are not the only large organisation doing so.

    • Appearently you have not had a CIO who believes everything should be run from one company to save on integration and support costs with an MS ecosystem
    • Windows do not scale.

      I know. Been there, seen others try to do it, got the bloody T shirt.

      If you have a bussiness that is likely to grow fast, do yourself a favour and keep Windows out of your datacentre.
  • Commodity hardware (Score:5, Informative)

    by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:51AM (#17905110)
    "But increasingly, the appeal of Windows- and Linux-based systems running on cheaper, commodity hardware is becoming more and more compelling.""

    Last time I checked, both BSD and Solaris (which are UNIX not Linux) run just fine on commodity x86/64 hardware. Sounds like somebody missed everything from 1999 on.

    Cheers, -b.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by laffer1 (701823)
      Please review what UNIX is... http://www.unix.org/what_is_unix.html [unix.org]

      Many BSDs have not been tested officially to use the UNIX name. If you simply look at the specification, IBM has done a lot of work with Linux to make it pass. This is a big gray area. The GNU is not UNIX but Linux slowly is becoming an implementation of the standard...

      Almost everything runs on ia32 now. People have a choice which is what open source is all about. My personal belief has always been that each OS has an advantage for a sp
      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:59PM (#17906322) Homepage Journal

        Please review what UNIX is... http://www.unix.org/what_is_unix.html [unix.org]

        That defines what UNIX(tm) is, but not what Unix [catb.org] is. Please realize the difference:

        Some people are confused over whether this word is appropriately 'UNIX' or 'Unix'; both forms are common, and used interchangeably. Dennis Ritchie says that the 'UNIX' spelling originally happened in CACM's 1974 paper The UNIX Time-Sharing System because "we had a new typesetter and troff had just been invented and we were intoxicated by being able to produce small caps." Later, dmr tried to get the spelling changed to 'Unix' in a couple of Bell Labs papers, on the grounds that the word is not acronymic. He failed, and eventually (his words) "wimped out" on the issue. So, while the trademark today is 'UNIX', both capitalizations are grounded in ancient usage; the Jargon File uses 'Unix' in deference to dmr's wishes.

        So in other words, UNIX is a trademark, while Unix is a style of operating system. And Linux is Unix. So is UNIX. So is *BSD.

        As for databases, I think SQL Server isn't that bad but for very large deployments there are a few other options that make more sense. Most people don't need Oracle, SQL Server or DB2. MySQL or Postgresql are adequate. You can get them to run on almost anything.

        If SQL Server is the answer, it must have been a stupid question. Not because there is actually anything wrong with mssql itself, but because it only runs on Windows :P

        Seriously though, MySQL and Postgresql are missing some features and do not scale as well as all of the alternatives. Luckily you can run DB2 or Oracle on Linux as well.

        The first person who figures out how to make a SQL server that clusters, automatically replicates, and blah blah blah to make a cluster perform and behave in most cases as well as a monolithic database server is going to be a hero to all. Of course it won't fit all types of data. But right now that's a horribly hard problem and one of the applications really keeping big iron going.

        • I just want to explicitly state that the main paragraph in my comment above was copied from the URL. I wrapped it in <q> tags, forgetting that slashdot doesn't permit them for some reason. But then the

          behavior that drops all text styles is fucking retarded too... What's happened to slashdot's CSS? It's utterly nonsensical. Anyway, just please note that while it was not blockquoted nor placed in quotes, it's not my text. Thank you.
        • by hankwang (413283) *

          The first person who figures out how to make a SQL server that clusters, automatically replicates, and blah blah blah

          I think Wikipedia is on several mysql servers simultaneously (not to mention well over a hundred http and squid servers). But I don't know the technical details.

      • by metamatic (202216)
        Yeah, but the summary and the article aren't talking about UNIX(R), the all-caps trademark of the Open Group used for System V derivatives. Rather, they're talking about Unix, which is the name everyone uses to refer to the family of operating systems that are derivative of the design of the earlier Unix v7, and generally compliant with POSIX.

        While "UNIX(R)" excludes the BSDs, "Unix" includes them, as well as including Mac OS X and probably arguably Linux too.

        But even ignoring that, the whole premise of "UN
  • by otacon (445694) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:55AM (#17905162)
    When I think of Sun, I think of reliable, mission critical, just like the article says...Sun has this big business image that "if you want it to run, you should be using Sun", but it also comes with a steeper learning curve. Whereas Linux's image is building and linux has an attitude like "anything you can do, i can do better, and if i can't yet, i will soon" and also comes with less of a learning curve...however still a lot more of a curve than your run of the mill windows server guy would like, I've met so many bleeding heart MS guys that would use/try Linux if they didn't have a misconception that it is infinatley harder than windows...
    • Sun has one of the most unmanageable patching system among all of unix. IBM's aix should be the #1 corporate choice. Their device support are top notch, they already have a hand in the linux cookie jar, their numbered patching system is superior. Redhat advanced server is priced at $2500 per system last I checked. So don't think it is quite free.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Redhat advanced server is priced at $2500 per system last I checked. So don't think it is quite free.

        But nothing is stopping you from running White Box Linux, which is the same thing but without the expenditure of cash - or the support, of course. What you are buying with Redhat is support. You're not really buying Linux.

        I might agree about AIX, but it's been a long time since I used it. Last time I used it, it was almost unbearable. On the plus side, smit is sexy (mostly because it tells you what comman

    • by 0racle (667029)
      Linux and Solaris have a similar learning curve if you're coming from a non-UNIX(like) environment, one isn't any harder to learn then the other. On top of that when you are used to only Windows, Linux is harder. Everything you don't know is harder then what you do know.
      • when you are used to only Windows, Linux is harder. Everything you don't know is harder then what you do know.

        Amen! I come from a Unix background, and I sometimes have problems on Windows trying to figure out which menu item on which control panel controls the feature I want to change. And it's rare you can find a control panel that shows you settings or values that it doesn't allow you to change (c.f. the Network control panel and "ipconfig /all"). And heaven help us if MS decides to move the control panels around again (like when they merged "Services" into "Administrative Tools")!

        Of course, it's not just con

    • When I think of Sun, I think of reliable, mission critical, just like the article says...Sun has this big business image that "if you want it to run, you should be using Sun", but it also comes with a steeper learning curve. Whereas Linux's image is building and linux has an attitude like "anything you can do, i can do better, and if i can't yet, i will soon" and also comes with less of a learning curve...however still a lot more of a curve than your run of the mill windows server guy would like, I've met s

    • linux [...] comes with less of a learning curve...however still a lot more of a curve than your run of the mill windows server guy would like, I've met so many bleeding heart MS guys that would use/try Linux if they didn't have a misconception that it is infinatley harder than windows...

      Wait, what? Linux has a steeper learning curve than Windows, yet Windows admins have a "misconception" that Linux is harder for them to use?

      Either it's easier to use (in which case the learning curve isn't as steep as you claim), or it's not (in which case there's no misconceptions, only reality).
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by jguevin (453329)
        No conflict in gp: he says they have a misconception that it's _much_ ("infinitely") harder to use, but that in fact Linux has a lot more of a curve than a windows server guy would like. I'd agree--many do have an overblown sense of how hard Linux is to learn/work with, but in fact it is _somewhat_ harder to learn than Windows.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Stormx2 (1003260)
        Wait, what? Linux has a steeper learning curve than Windows, yet Windows admins have a "misconception" that Linux is harder for them to use? Actually that is fine. Initially, linux can have a steep learning curve (first week or two) but after that it is easy. Windows admins have to misconception it starts difficult and stays difficult.
      • by Almahtar (991773)
        If you re-read the Grand-Parent it actually says Linux has a steeper learning curve than "your run-of-the-mill Windows admin would like". That doesn't mean it has a steeper learning curve than Windows, it means that it's harder to learn than someone who already knows Windows would like. It could, in fact, have a much more shallow learning curve than Windows and yet someone who knows Windows and doesn't know Linux could still not think the curve is worth it. So I think what the Grand-Parent, I think he/sh
    • When I think of Sun, I think of reliable, mission critical

      True - still have some legacy stuff of which there is no half decent replacement running on SunOS 5.5.1 on a SparcStation10. While it is cheap to keep old hardware around as spares or run on newer sparc hardware (which is too busy doing other stuff for it to be desirable) eventually problems will crop up. Has anyone had success virtualising SunOS 5.5.1 for sparc on an x86 platform?

  • ::The defensible hill for Unix is the big, vertically scaling, ::mission-critical application, which is usually some type of ::database serving, No, it is not. It is a way to temporarily survive. When I looked at my first Vvery large database it has like 12gb of data. It was very large by then's standard, and you had problems finding a vendor for multiple pentium processor servers. Intel had one that could handle up to 6 pentiums, and I think 512mb ram or so. That was considered hugh. Today I can get eigh
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by truthsearch (249536)
      the island defended is getting smaller. In my experience databases are not growing in a similar speed like hardware is anymore

      My experience contradicts this. Companies are analyzing more and more information and using larger data warehouses. Where in the past I'd see a variety of small databases spread throughout financial firms I now see more cosolidation into data warehouses. It aids in analysis, cuts some costs, and increases security. Even many web sites are now growing huge databases.
      • by thona (556334)
        BUt is this relevant? I see something similar, but I have two counter-arguments: One: databases get smaller compared to hardware. Like 15 years ago a very large database was 10gb+ and a large server under x86 was 512mb - that is a factor of 20. Today, a very large database is 100+gb, and a normal server can have 128gb. So, the database fits into ram. Second: sure some databases get a LOT larger, but is this as hugh a market? I mean, my normal environment are online shops, ERP systems etc. Where in the pa
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Today, a very large database is 100+gb

          I beg to differ. Here where I work, our main customer database (which is OLTP, NOT a data warehouse) just crossed over the 20TB mark. Our data warehouse is up in the hundreds of TB range, and growing very quickly.

          Like all things with technology, as things progress and get larger and faster, people find ways to use that new power.

          There is a _large_ market for high end systems. We're talking 32+ processors and TERABYTES of RAM. Commodity hardware has increased in po

        • Like 15 years ago a very large database was 10gb+ ... Today, a very large database is 100+gb

          Nooo. 12 years ago I started my career on a 4TB database (custom supported by Sun and Oracle). Seven years ago that database grew to 20TB. Today I see medium size corporate databases weighing in at 200 to 500 GB. Even some relatively simple web sites I work with have over 50 GB of data.
        • 15 years ago 10GB db's were not the norm, they were huge. Today 100GB DB's are 'mid sized'. Large databases run 1TB or higher. Database benchmarks like TPC start at 100G and go up from there (to 10TB, and I've seen larger ones than that). Mid sized databases continue to run 10-20x the size of the 'commodity' hardware, and probably always will (otherwise nobody would need the latest greatest, thus the vendors would have stopped making larger boxes at 4 cpu and 16G of ram due to lack of demand). As soon as yo
    • Paragraphs will help people read what you have to say. <p> .... </p>
    • Now data is consolidated from many disparate places and we are beginning to see virutalization, for which Sun has a very good and simple offering (zones) at absolutely no extra cost.

      Try virtualizing Windows. Soon you'll go mad figuring the licensing and legal issues, not to speak about performance.

      With Sun you just type a few commands, have to ask permission to nobody, and are in bussiness. And using an OS that scales properly from prototype to full production and then to serving more clients than originall
  • by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:59AM (#17905238)
    "Anal" - backside
    "Yst" - ancient Greek word, meaning "to pull ideas from"
  • Windows? hah. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:04PM (#17905352)
    A place I used to work planned to move everyone from sun workstations to windows boxes as a cost-cutting exercise.
    It ended up costing way more overall because all of a sudden our IT department went from a single sysadmin who was hardly ever busy, because everything just worked, to a whole department of IT staff needed to second-guess MS exchange and a now very unreliable network (even though no network hardware or configuration had changed), and Windows PC's that were always slowing up or crashing, especially after that stupid automated windows update.
  • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2NO@SPAMearthshod.co.uk> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:16PM (#17905528)
    The big advantage that BSD and Linux have over Windows in this space (migration away from commercial Unix) is that most of what you have already learned is, as near as damn it is to swearing, directly portable. Even most of the applications you are already running, need no more than a swift recompile.
  • by iamacat (583406) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:18PM (#17905588)
    X windows is 23 years old. UNIX, with trusty system calls like open() is around 38. Without radical innovation, its no wonder that customers are moving to low cost alternatives that coincidentally do open() or X-Windows just fine. If Sun wants its market back, they should have photorealistic 3D graphics, real time, robotics control, neural network security system, files presented as memory mapped data structures of type-specific format... There are opportunities, market and technologies that are still left for $1M price tag of high end Sun servers or Cray supercomputers. Its just that these companies have been overrun by management that has too much money and too little brains to care.
    • Or ... they could move with the market, offer an x86 version of Solaris that is the same as the Sparc version, start selling AMD and Intel server and workstation solutions, and bring themselves back to profitability (something they haven't done in years).

      Oh wait ... they did that. Much like TFA states ...

      - Roach
    • Ah, the young and naive. Its not that there are people "moving on" but that more people who don't know the old stuff are entering the work force. Our company used to be a unix shop, with HP Apollos, HP PA-RISCs, Suns, SGIs, and RS/6000s. Along came the late 1990s, and some new engineers were hired. They said, "hey, look at these super Dell machines we can get! They run Windows! Everyone loves Windows! We don't have to pay for OS maintenance, and they cost $10,000 less than our current workstations!"
      • by iamacat (583406)
        It's not that 20 year old technologies always stop to be useful, its just that you can not expect to charge premiums for it. Your $40 Sun box was probably around $15K when first released and now you have a somewhat faster Dell for 1/4th of the price. To survive as a big iron vendor other than just another PC maker, Sun needs to come up with something that a Dell can not do. I don't see any robots around, with Sun SPOT or otherwise, so I assume its an area that can use improvement.

        As for X, it totally sucks
        • by dbIII (701233)

          As for X, it totally sucks for remote access to modern applications which do quite a bit more drawing than xeyes

          Only when you have poor bandwidth and/or high latency. If you are close to the host it is far superior to VNC. There really is nothing better yet - the MS terminal thing really is not even as good as exporting a virtual X windows display over VNC and although Citrix is better than the MS solution it still can't beat putting single application windows on your screen from a couple of dozen diffe

      • by evilviper (135110)

        Apple is using X11 on BSD and they are laughing all the way to the bank.

        No, they AREN'T using X11.

        SGI _invented_ photorealistic 3D graphics, did you not see "Jurassic Park"?

        And they made boatloads of money off of it, pretty well supporting the OP's point.

        If you need reliability, why does innovation matter?

        Even if you could come up with a 100% reliable MS-DOS system, do you think anyone would buy it?

        Reliability is nothing without features. Features come from innovation.

    • If Sun wants its market back, they should have photorealistic 3D graphics, real time, robotics control, neural network security system, files presented as memory mapped data structures of type-specific format... There are opportunities, market and technologies that are still left for $1M price tag of high end Sun servers or Cray supercomputers.

      It sounds like you are a manager yourself...

  • by Biff98 (633281) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:27PM (#17905734)

    RELIABILITY!

    Cheaper, commodity hardware does not work for all of us! There's a huge category they're missing out on.

    I know the Fortune 100 (or maybe 500?) companies don't care, as they can just run clusters of cheap ass machines. But what about the millions of small to middle sized businesses and research institutions?

    I've been involved in a number of smaller sized research organizations, and uptime is the utmost importance, however, we definitely aren't running "server farms", so clustering is out the window. I've relied on Sun servers running tons of GNU tools to get the job done. I think you'll find (unless you already know) there's a very large number of people doing what I'm doing. We can't rely on Dell (or even Penguin, or Monarch, or....) to deliver consistent, well thought out, easily-repairable, robust servers. Sun (and other big box makers) can! So what do I do? Run Solaris 10 (GREAT, Solid OS) and install a ton of GNU open-source tools. The result? Great open-source software, and the reliability and well thought-out hardware from Sun. It takes a bit longer to do, but the results are great.

    B E A utiful.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      however, we definitely aren't running "server farms", so clustering is out the window.
      Umm... Why?

      You can easily have a "cluster" of two or three machines, for fail-over in the event of software or hardware faults.
  • Unix vs. Linux (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ubuwalker31 (1009137)
    Can somebody explain how Unix is different than Linux? Most Linux distributions are mostly POSIX, SUS and ELF compliant. Is the underlying code better somehow?
    • by stiggle (649614)
      Primarily the difference is a company to point the finger at if anything serious goes wrong.
      There are others, but thats the main one. Same reason why companies use Redhat Linux instead of Debian or other community distributions.
    • The real question is how Linux is different than Unix. Unix is far older and mature than Linux. Linus (and his classmates) used Unix as a model. Without Unix there might not be Linux, or it might look vastly different. Many of the features of Linux come from one or another commercial version of Unix (or BSD) and were developed as robust, "commercial quality" (if that actually means anything) products. See UNIX History [levenez.com] for more information (scroll down for many UNIX / Linux information links).
    • Lies! Linux isn't and will never be POSIX compliant - because POSIX is a big bag of stuff - and take POSIX MEMORY MANAGEMENT - specifically shared memory mapped files - and you will find nothing in Linux. Last time I looked, it was so evil that stubs existed for posix memory calls, but you didn't find out they were stubs until you 1) tried to run your app or 2) looked at the man pages for the call.

      So... OpenSolaris is posix compliant. Linux is not.
      • In fact there is at least one system call where Linus deliberately diverged from POSIX, which, according to him, specifies a broken behavior.
  • by The Man (684) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:42PM (#17906030) Homepage
    Anyone who conflates "Unix" and "large, expensive custom/proprietary hardware" in 2007 isn't worth reading. While there are indeed some Unix operating systems that only run on custom hardware produced by the same vendor, that's by no means universally true. Note especially Solaris, which runs just as well on the very same cheap and ubiquitous x86 (whether from a tier-1 vendor or homebrew) systems used by some to run Windows or GNU/Linux as it does on the big, expensive SPARC hardware that Sun and Fujitsu offer. Anyone who wants to have a meaningful conversation about the IT industry needs to start by separating the hardware options (driven mainly by economics) from the software discussion (driven mainly by technical and business factors). While there are business problems that can only be solved on high-end hardware that's often limited to a single choice of OS, those are the minority of deployments and form a distinct market from the volume space. Talking about competition between high-end and low-end solutions is pointless; either you need high-end performance, capacity, and features or you don't. If you do, you're simply not in the market for a low-end hardware platform and the OS you run will depend largely on the hardware vendor you choose. If you don't, it would be silly to spend money on high-end gear, and you'll be able to choose from among several operating systems - including those named here - based on your individual business needs and the features offered by each product. But it's a sure mark of ignorance to discuss the two as if it's all one market in which a choice of Windows/GNU/Linux/Solaris/BSD on a uniprocessor PC competes directly with HPUX on Himalaya and Solaris on Starcat. One can see why commentators are always talking about Unix's imminent demise; they fail to recognise two key aspects of the market: Unix's strong and capable presence on both low-end and high-end hardware, and the segmented nature of the server market. Not much to see here, I shouldn't think.
  • by soren100 (63191) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:57PM (#17906286)
    The sheer ease of starting a business with Linux and other open-source technologies (MySQL, PHP, ruby, etc) gives Linux the the advantage over Unix. If the company grows, we will just keep using what works.

    I am currently working in a 10-man startup company that delivers employment training over the Web. Our system runs off a cluster of 3 boxes in a LAMP configuration, and we never paid a dime for server software.

    Linux dedicated hosting is much cheaper than Windows dedicated hosting, and there are so many tutorials and packages out there that make it really easy to learn and deploy open-source systems.

    Sun and company have started their battle way too late for anything but niche deployments -- the King of "Big Iron", IBM, long ago threw in the mainframe towel in favor of Linux.

    My Dad used to run a university library, and he was always very forward - looking in terms of IT. He wanted to get a Sun server to run thin-client systems for the library patrons to use rather than having to clean the Windows systems every day, and he could not get a Sun salesperson to talk to him (this was about 12 years ago).

    The main library software ran on Sun servers (that they bought through the software vendor), and he was highly impressed with the stability of the Sun boxes. He was so impressed that when the time came for PC's to be installed in the library, he wanted to put 20 thin-client terminals in that ran sessions on a second Sun server. That plan ended because he could not get Sun to talk to him -- he literally could not get the sales people there to call him back to sell him the system.

    The end result was that he had to install the 20 PC's and deal with the viruses, downloaded software and other daily headaches of the Windows world and Sun lost an easy sale because they were too arrogant to care.

    Sun should have been fighting way back then -- Linux is way too mature now, and way too cheap and easy to deploy. In these days of Ubuntu livecd's and Macs running on top of Linux, anyone who is not a Windows person who is interested in computing will learn Linux. Sun may have a few legacy apps, it looks like they will just be a niche player at best. Sun was legendary for their stability, but our Linux boxes have all the stability we need.

    I am sure Unix will have it's niches here and there, but Linux is way too strong at this point.

    • by shmlco (594907)
      "...and there are so many tutorials and packages out there that make it really easy to learn and deploy open-source systems."

      Shudder. Yeah, that's exactly what I want my sysadmins doing. Grabbing some code off the web, reading a five-page tutorial, and then using that "knowledge" to deploy a "solution" that my company is going to depend on.
  • Required OS X Post (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cadeon (977561) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:05PM (#17906432)
    FYI, OS X Leopard *is* Unix, it's been offically certified as such and will be marketed as such, unlike the previous versions which were 'Unix Like'
    • I checked at unix.org (i.e. the Open Group website) and OS X is *not yet* showing up in either the 95, 98, and 03 certifications, but I then checked wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_OS_X_v10.5 [wikipedia.org]. Here is the apropos part:

      Leopard is set to be fully UNIX compliant as Apple intends to submit Leopard and Leopard Server to the Open Group for certification. This means that software following the Single UNIX Specification can be compiled and run on Leopard without the need for any code modification.

      They

  • "But increasingly, the appeal of Windows- and Linux-based systems running on cheaper, commodity hardware is becoming more and more compelling."
    Increasingly, when people just make noises to fill up their packet space instead of thinking about the language they are using, I find that I am more and more compelled to kick them farther and farther across the parking lot, and the rate of incidence is on the rise.
  • There was that Dilbert where Alice was put in charge of the company's booth at an expo. Alice was told to get "booth babes." Her response was to hand Dilbert and Wally pieces of string.

    "What are these for?"

    "It's your uniform. Wear it and stand in front of our competitor's booth.

  • by mikemcc (4795) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @02:21PM (#17907850)
    From the article: "especially now that Web-based applications are written in operating system-agnostic languages such as Java and .Net."

    I just went to Microsoft's page for the .net framework, and it sure looked 100% windows to me. Perhaps the author is considering "multiple flavors of windows" to be "multiple platforms." My bias leads me to a different conclusion.
    • Consider it a red flag about the quality of the source.
    • .NET is theoretically platform-agnostic. However, Microsoft leaves the implementation of other platforms as an exercise for the reverse engineer. Mono [mono-project.com], however, is a proof-of-concept that .NET can be developed and deployed (mostly) on non-Windows platforms.
  • When you see Gartner you know something is funny... First, from Gartner itself, with some extra hilighting from me,

    Andrew Butler is a vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research, covering most server technologies, including operating system evolution, architectures, platforms and vendor strategies. He is also one of four senior analysts -- named research area managers -- responsible for defining and steering Gartner's global research agenda for the server industry. Prior to
  • In 1999, I ran a mission critical web server, apps, database, on not just a desktop, but one that was too slow (at the time) to use as a desktop. No one wanted it. It was an original 100 Mhz Pentium. We scrounged 128 MB RAM for it.

    One day, the fan died, and the machine was fried. But, another old desktop box was available, and in a couple hours, the 'new' box was restored from backups and was on the air.

    We had battery backup for the entire server room. And, if power wasn't restored pretty quickly, a die
  • I created a site which became a top 100 site during the .COM boom. We started out on Linux. Due to some investor pressure and visibility aspects, we moved to sun hardware. (Being a portable Java app, it wasn't a big port.) The hardware was nice; overpriced, but pretty nice. We paid the big bucks for it, and the support. We had several memory leak and crash issues that Sun attempted to fix, and escalated quite nicely and got us some personal attention. But when you're paying a million bucks for a fanc

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