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NYT Ponders the Future of Solaris In a Linux/Windows World 340

Posted by timothy
from the year-of-the-solaris-desktop dept.
JerkBoB links to a story at the New York Times about the future prospects of Sun's Solaris, excerpting: "Linux is enjoying growth, with a contingent of devotees too large to be called a cult following at this point. Solaris, meanwhile, has thrived as a longstanding, primary Unix platform geared to enterprises. But with Linux the object of all the buzz in the industry, can Sun's rival Solaris Unix OS hang on, or is it destined to be displaced by Linux altogether?"
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NYT Ponders the Future of Solaris In a Linux/Windows World

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  • Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 25, 2008 @07:59PM (#25160063)

    The current solaris systems will only have issue with this if they actually need to be rebooted one day and the new admins notice its not linux.

    • Re:Of course (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) * on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:15PM (#25160197) Homepage Journal

      You say Solaris, I say SunOS, let's call the whole thing old. ;-)

      Seriously, if you can't figure one out, you don't know the other very well.

    • Or else... (Score:4, Funny)

      by mangu (126918) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:20PM (#25160249)

      ... if they actually need to be rebooted one day and the new admins notice its not linux

      ...or if a new application is required and the admins can't find the apt repository...

      • That was the main reason why I canned OpenSolaris after trying it out.

        It runs Gnome but that was the only similarity to more user-friendly *Nixes such as ubuntu. No apt-get or many other Joe User tools that make running desktop linux a breeze.

        And what's up with "jack" as the default username?
        • Re:Or else... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by countSudoku() (1047544) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:31PM (#25161283) Homepage

          I use the Solaris 10 JDS everyday at work and also run Ubuntu and Solaris 10 x86 at home, with zones on it. Basically the "apt-get" you're looking for is called "pkg-get" and is available from blastwave.org.
                  The future of Solaris on the desktop is not as exciting as that of Ubuntu, or any other wildly popular Linux distro. The enterprise future of Solaris is way more exciting IMO. The reason is this; Solaris 10 Zones are ready for primetime enterprise whereas Linux is still being pondered and in most cases not being taken seriously due to the open source nature of the beast and the sheer number of different distros, many of which lack and enterprise level support. We had a Red Hat box in our DC and we retired it. Meanwhile we're approaching 400+ Solaris 10 zones and we're coming in at *HALF* the price of the VMware solution that the Windows side of the house provides. Guess who's growing faster? Even with more expensive boxen our solution is a better value and provides a very solid framework for many, many environments.
                  As an OSS advocate and 20+ year SunOS/Solaris admin I will welcome both operating systems in my home and data center. Like the man said above, you know one, you practically know the other. It's all *nix in the end.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by NuclearError (1256172)

            ...wildly popular Linux distro...

            Good one!

          • The same blastwave going though a huge identity crisis AND was down for a good deal of time while the 'founders' did a bunch of closed door arguing and backstabbing?

            How can I trust my enterprise level environment to something like that? This is not a kick on solaris, we actually use solaris 10 (a few products we use only support solaris on sparc). But I just can't see a business case for blastwave. At least if we went ubuntu we get a guarantee of life cycle and the ability to get paid support. If I call sun

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by SL Baur (19540)

            As an OSS advocate and 20+ year SunOS/Solaris admin I will welcome both operating systems in my home and data center. Like the man said above, you know one, you practically know the other.

            It's too bad in a way that you did not have a good experience with RHEL. My workplace approved RHEL on the desktop that I use has never been rebooted for anything other than power failure. My older Solaris workstation has, but that was only because I was unfamiliar with the system and did not know how to get it to use a decent bit depth for the X display.

            It's all *nix in the end.

            Yup. Absolutely works for me, the 20+ year Unix and descendents user at home.

            -sb (Penguin advocate, but as long as it's something Unixy, I can live with

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Alpha830RulZ (939527)

            Even with more expensive boxen

            Which is where the discussion ends with me. I use Linux because it cuts my costs for fielding compute power. Sure, I could use Open Solaris, but why would I use code away from the center of the action? That's where the bug fixing is happening. The key thing for me is cheap hardware and cheap software. I use a heavily replicated environment, so one box going down isn't a big issue. Cost of the farm is. So Linux on cheap x64_86 is where it's at for me.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Skuld-Chan (302449)

            My brother in law who works at Intel says they no longer use Solaris for CAD/Simulation - its all been moved to Linux.

            Also have a friend at Cisco who says the only Solaris machines they have in their department run FrameMaker and that if Adobe ever made a Linux version they'd abandon Solaris entirely.

          • Re:Or else... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Saint Aardvark (159009) on Friday September 26, 2008 @08:08AM (#25164679) Homepage Journal

            Blastwave...heh. Which Blastwave [heise-online.co.uk] are you talking about?

            Sorry, this is a bit of a sore point for me. At work, we have a Solaris 10 machine that powers about 30 SunRays for mathematicians. JDS is fine, but adding other programs is a pain. (Disclaimer coming up, so bear with me.)

            • Blastwave: They just had the split. But before that there were problems. Upgrading CUPS broke printing; they'd moved around some Ghostscript filters. Upgrading Postfix broke Postfix, because they'd moved the config files to play nicer with zones, and their script that should've dropped everything in the right place didn't. These were stable versions, not the unstable.
            • pkg-src: Great until you trip over something that won't compile and spend days trying to track down what it is -- say, 1 package in 20. Sounds like good odds? Try compiling Firefox or Kile, with dependencies stretching back to libc and the Dead Sea scrolls. I'm guessing they just aren't able to do as much testing on Solaris...and fair enough; the job of making umpty thousand packages compile on mumble different OS' is hard enough.
            • compile from source: fine, unless it's obscure (say, some mathematical package) that assumes GNU tools all the way, or a Linux OS, and weird, obscure things break.
            • download binaries: yes, if they've got 'em.

            And now for the disclaimers: No, this isn't enterprise (which was your point; I was looking for a place to jump into this discussion, and the mention of Blastwave got me). Yes, a real sysadmin could compile all this from scratch without problem. Yes, this is an edge case on top of an edge case (desktops for mathematicians? How obscure!). Yes, ZFS and dtrace are seriously, jaw-droppingly awesome.

            But this is my experience; so far, I simply have not done anything remotely enterprise. It's all been server + desktop in small shops. And for that environment, requirements are changing all the time. The mail server now needs to do spam filtering and DNS. Yes, they should be split up, but there isn't the budget. The new guy wants KDE on his machine instead of Gnome, or needs to try out a new library to see if it works.

            And for these, it's not "set it and forget it"; we need new packages, or updates to the old ones, all the time. If all the heartache I described was a one-time thing, I'd do it and be done...but in this environment, it'll need to be done again in three months. That means a good package manager (hello, Debian!), or a good ports tree (*BSD), or an environment that everyone is familiar with (Linux, because it has just that much mindshare).

            Bit of a rant, and less coherent than I'd like. But it's 6am, I haven't had my coffee yet, and my kid's about to wake up...so I'll have to leave it there.

        • Re:Or else... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by udippel (562132) on Friday September 26, 2008 @12:51AM (#25162231)

          That was the main reason why I canned OpenSolaris after trying it out.

          Uhh. Yes. No.
          I guess you talk about the miserable 2008.5 or so.
          I for one hopped on the SXDE/SXCE/Nevada; just for a try, and have been there ever since. It contains (almost) all that I need, out of the box, from Macromedia Flash to StarOffice. The most complete one I ever tried. Compiz included, and the (alas) proprietary blobs (NVIDIA). Show me a Linux that you can install, and brings up 173.14.09 NVIDIA on reboot, at the correct resolution?

          Actually, it only missed on Mplayer, Dia and Gnumeric for me. Over.
          Now I run a few multi-boot systems, with Debian/Ubuntu and OpenSolaris as choices, and I tend to use OpenSolaris. The problem of OpenSolaris is not so much OpenSolaris as it is the SUN management's low visionary angle.

          True, hardware support is better on Linux(Ubuntu), resource requirements are easily 2 GB (it consumes close to 1 GB after boot and starting GNOME), networking, and especially wireless, is far behind Ubuntu. Mounting of ext3 needs external programs to be installed the old SUN-way, and is not possible as R/W; it is limited to readonly. For the rest OpenSolaris is at par, if not superior.

          That default username "Jack" does not exist in the world of Nevada. As I said above, the one that you had your hands on was 2008.5; codenamed Indiana, enforced on the project by a bunch of managers at SUN who have since long passed their expiration dates.

          It is not only the DTrace and Zones that make it great(er), ZFS is truly the file-system contender for the next millennium. A file system needs to be seen as a self-contained, holistic, entity. fdisk and format are so last millennium.

          The Caiman installer was the greatest piece of installation software I ever used. But it was broken half a year ago and now rumbles on as a low-priority project. Don't talk to me about bullshit: The installer is the first thing a potential user hits. And currently it is either the venerable CDE-SUN installer or console. This is how to screw up a visionary project like OpenSolaris at its best.
          And then, community. Make me puke. The bug reports that I file (and still file) disappear in the intestines of SUN, and I can't even see them. Not to mention modify them.

          Yes, OpenSolaris might fail, in the end. But not on technical reasons, and this is where the article is erroneous. It is a badly managed hybrid of proprietary-free software.

    • Re:Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dnoyeb (547705) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:30PM (#25160331) Homepage Journal

      Thats a technical reason. In the US though, its about shareholder perception. If the CEO is trying to do big things and keeps talking in "old" terms, he will quickly be accused of being out of touch with reality.

      Like the post said, Linux is generating the buzz. The money follows the buzz even if it does not make sense.

    • Re:AIX Of course (Score:2, Informative)

      by bonkeydcow (1186443)
      No problem. Just run AIX. In our environment we run all 3 OSes, Solaris, AIX, Linux and windows ( I don't count that one).

      Linux is in no way encroaching on the other two.
    • Is Solaris one of those Unix OS's that has the "lp0 on fire" [wikipedia.org] error still in its code, just in case it is necessary?

      I was thinking about trying it out, but I demand five star safety ratings in all of my operating systems. Fire alarms are a must of course :).

  • by k1e0x (1040314) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:00PM (#25160071) Homepage

    Solaris is a great big iron OS. I don't think it will be disappearing anytime soon.

    • ...what you think it does.

      "That's literally like noticing the view from a third-story building as it burns to the ground."

      • by gringer (252588)

        That's literally like noticing the view from a third-story building as it burns to the ground.

        They chucked a fudge word in, that makes it okay. It's literally like that, not literally that. Kinda like the US economy being both strong and at risk, literally like a muscleman who wouldn't wear a condom.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by aynoknman (1071612)
          What does "literally" mean in the context of a fudge word? The difference between "like" and "literally like" escapes me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ... except Sun appears to be too busy turning it into a desktop OS. Many of the underlying subsystems that have been added in the past few major releases need some work to make them enterprise ready. [My favorite is the lack of group and netgroup support in RBAC. How can they possibly push it as a sudo replacement without that?] Instead, they are too busy screwing around with things like WiFi support and replacing Jumpstart with a system that doesn't even support begin/pre and finish/post scripts... and

  • by compumike (454538) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:04PM (#25160099) Homepage

    The purpose of the operating system is to act between the hardware, system abstractions, and the algorithms. But now that virtualization is taking over, the hardware responsibility of OSes is being minimized -- or centralized. Therefore, the advantages of one hardware platform can be more easily decoupled from those of an OS.

    In my opinion, Sun was always known for rock-solid hardware, and this move toward hardware-agnostic computing means that Solaris gets just a bit less relevant today. Especially since cost is still a factor, and the hardware-specific advantages are disappearing...

    --
    Hey code monkey... learn electronics! Powerful microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by certain death (947081)
      How is cost an issue, when you can get Solaris for the same price as Linux? FREE! Both offer paid support, both cost approx. the same.
    • by mysidia (191772) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @09:05PM (#25160625)

      The purpose of the operating system is to act between the hardware, system abstractions, and the algorithms. But now that virtualization is taking over, the hardware responsibility of OSes is being minimized -- or centralized. Therefore, the advantages of one hardware platform can be more easily decoupled from those of an OS.

      It's more important than ever, and Solaris delivers virtualization through Sun logical domains, hardware virtualization (zones), and the xVM hypervisor based on Xen (with Solaris dom0).

      Now with Virtualization: if your physical machine fails, and your hypervisor cannot recover immediately from the error (without a reboot), you don't just have one server down -- you have many virtual machines disrupted.

      Your Linux VMs that use ext3 may have some problems after that unclean death (filesystem corruption); whereas, your Solaris VMs backed by ZFS are less likely to have fatal problems, as filesystem backed by ZFS with redundancy 1 with no issues, as ZFS all but guarantees filesystem itself is consistent.

      You can restart axed VMs on another server, perhaps: you have a shared storage environment, but this disruption costs something, and it is higher the more VMs you were running on that machine.

      Also: there are application I/O-intensive workloads that do not virtualize well, such as high-load databases i.e. your 5 billion row Oracle DB.

      Solaris is perfect for managing the hardware for these specialized applications that are not efficient to be run in a virtual environment.

      ZFS may also be a major factor.

      If you have shared filesystems -- you need SANs & NASes.

      Do you use a $5 million NAS, or do you buy a couple high-end Sun servers, load them up with a direct-attach storage arrays, and share via NFS in order to provide a good bit of reasonably fast storage on the cheap? hmmm...

      Think about it: Linux isn't really even a possibility for backing your servers' storage, you want 99.9999% uptime of your servers, right?

      Systems based on Linux cannot generally guarantee uptimes like that (yet); although it is over time getting closer.

      Your storage can't be efficiently shared by a VM (I/O in a virtual machine is notoriously slow, plus the CPU usage and available memory for caching is limited by other usage of the host).

      • by C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @09:38PM (#25160883) Journal

        just atended a seminar about solaris LDOMs at the office. with LDOMs (which only run on niagara T1 and T2 CPUS) you can assign a whole PCI bus to a single guest OS in such way that the guest has full control of that bus, which implies no performance penalty if that bus have a couple of HBAs to connect it to a storage/SAN.

        the sun guy at the seminar (same instructor that ran the solaris 10 administration course I took last year) made it very clear that the kind of hardware backed virtualization provided by LDOMs is the second best for high I/O apps, losing only for hardware partitioning, and it's way ahead of the kind of full software virtualization provided by vmware, virtual pc or virtual box.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ArsonSmith (13997)

      It's kinda funny watching things go in circles. First it was hardware built to run one specific app. Someone said lets build something so we can run multiple apps on general purpose hardware. So the Operating system was born. Now we want to run multiple operating systems on even more general purpose hardware.

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:05PM (#25160117)
    it'll still be around because it's a good OS, worthy of being used.

    it'll just be a niche product.

    personally i think it's sad sun blew their chances with solaris, it's superior to linux in security and performace.

    • by Shaman (1148)

      Easy to say. Not so easy to prove.

    • it's superior to linux in security and performace.

      You reckon Solaris is superior to linux in performace? I reckon these guys [google.com.au] really know performace.

      • what do card tricks have to do with server performance?

        and google's hardware strategy has always been to buy lots of cheap commodity hardware and to use lots of redundancy. in a one to one comparison, there'd be no match between one of google's cheap linux servers verus one of the Sun's SPARC+Solaris servers.

        the key is in the volume of cheap servers they deploy. google simply builds massive server farms using off-the-shelf components. their software is written based on the premise that hardware will fail (t

  • Solaris 10 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tsunayoshi (789351) <tsunayoshi AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:07PM (#25160135) Journal

    If your only experience with Solaris is v8 or v9, you really need to check out Solaris 10. It is a complete night and day difference in ease of use and features. Add to that the volume of useful enterprise management software from Sun (the N1 stack, and now the new xVM stack) and you have an enterprise that is a dream to maintain.

    I've been doing straight Solaris 10 admin for the last 2 years (linux for 4 years before that), and shortly will once again be taking a position that will be 99% linux. I will miss Solaris 10. I still love both OS's, but Solaris wins in my book at the moment.

    • Re:Solaris 10 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by segfaultcoredump (226031) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:43PM (#25160433)

      I agree.

      If we were talking Solaris 8 or 9 vs linux, it would be no contest. Solaris 10 is another story.

      In the current shop where I work, Solaris is the OS of first choice. We only run linux if we absolutely have to due to application compatibility issues. From a cost standpoint, they both run on the same server hardware (intel or amd), so there is no cost advantage there. The major one is that a RedHat support contract cost more than the equivalent one from Sun for Solaris (they are both free if you dont want support... sorta.... You can download solaris from sun for free and install it. You cant do the same with RedHat. That said, if you use kickstart you can get around the mandatory rhn registration that stops you dead if you dont have a valid support contract.)

        It just that with solaris we have the ability to load the box up with dozens of zones that are easy to manage compared to the alternatives on linux (yes, there are alternatives to solaris zones, and all of them involve unsupported kernel patches. ) We tend to run 20+ zones per dual proc box. Each zone gets its own env. We dont need them to differ too much from the main zone, so things like Xen are overkill. Chroot would be nice if we could also get better control over things like IP's, admin access, hostname resolution, etc. For what we want, Zones are absolutely perfect. zfs and Dtrace just add icing to the cake.

      That said, this article read like a BMW sales rep's opinion of the newest Audi. If I want opinions of if solaris is dying, I'm not going to go and ask the head of the linux consortium which has a vested interestin seeing their prophecy come true.

        For a good time, go to the IDC site and read the comments. Most of them are ripping the author for the piss poor job he did since it reads like a linux marketing piece more than an actual news article.

      • by seifried (12921)
        I love how you didn't even mention Sparc: "From a cost standpoint, they both run on the same server hardware (intel or amd), so there is no cost advantage there. " Lovely platform but yeah....
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tyrione (134248)
          I suppose he could have added the UltraSparc or SPARC64 and noted the superior threads per processor the latest Sparc has over the Xeon and AMD but then it wouldn't be a comparison of Operating Systems. On the same hardware, he's stating the benefits of Solaris 10 and it's stack of Enterprise tools which makes his job a dream.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:09PM (#25160151) Journal
    I'm not sure that asking "will solaris survive?" is the right question. Any server OS with decent legacy traction can hang on for ages even without exciting benefits, or even parity, compared to its competitors. Any OS can also be opened up, given away, and allowed to limp along for as long as anybody cares to play with it. Solaris is essentially certain not to die.

    The real question is "how much of a premium will Solaris be able to command?" This is probably connected to the question of how much of a premium SPARC hardware can command. If Sun gives Solaris away, and doesn't charge more than any of the major linux vendors for support, then Solaris will do fine; but that isn't necessarily helpful to Sun. If Solaris can justify a premium(either upfront or for support) or can drive or be driven by purchase of fancy SPARC boxes, then the resulting market share may be about the same; but far more valuable. That seems like the more relevant question.
    • Any server OS with decent legacy traction can hang on for ages even without exciting benefits, or even parity, compared to its competitors. Any OS can also be opened up, given away, and allowed to limp along for as long as anybody cares to play with it. VAX/VMS is essentially certain not to die.

      I can't say I totally agree with your post.

      • Don't forget about OpenVMS.
      • Any server OS with decent legacy traction can hang on for ages even without exciting benefits, or even parity, compared to its competitors. Any OS can also be opened up, given away, and allowed to limp along for as long as anybody cares to play with it. VAX/VMS is essentially certain not to die.

        I can't say I totally agree with your post.

        VMS still has a sizable hobbyist community, and you can find the occasional Alpha running it in a server room. I think that's what he meant by "given away, and allowed to limp along for as long as anybody cares to play with it".

        Of course, the NYT and (I assume) you are talking about commercial death.

        Solaris isn't going to disappear from the business world any time soon, though its marketshare may slowly shrink.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 25, 2008 @09:36PM (#25160869)

      The real question is "how much of a premium will Solaris be able to command?" This is probably connected to the question of how much of a premium SPARC hardware can command.

      Sun sells some (really nice) x86 kit. Solaris is certified and supported on HP hardware (though HP is not an official OEM). Dell has an OEM agreement with Sun, and so does IBM. Furthermore Solaris is being ported to IBM's mainframe systems, and it works just fine as a guest in VMware (and xVM, and work is being done with Xen).

      A software support contract is cheaper for Solaris than it is for Red Hat.

      The main issue is perception: Solaris is viewed as "old and tired", and Linux is viewed as new and exciting. I do not think this corresponds to any meaningful reality (and I've run DOS, DESQview, OS/2, Linux, BSD, Solaris, and OS X on my home machine since I began computing).

      My perfect system would be the core of Solaris, the interface of OS X, and FreeBSD's ports tree. The development model of Linux (and BSD and GNU/FSF), and the freedom it gives you, is the most important thing that Linux has brought to the table, but I don't see anything inherent in the technology that Linux gives that makes it anything special.

  • by synthespian (563437) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:11PM (#25160161)

    Tech shouldn't be about "gee, everybody's using it."
    How about some hard, technical facts?
    So many things in Solaris are more advanced than Linux...Sounds like a Linux PR piece...
    For instance, you can count on general ABI breakage on Linux. They even take pride in it. That's not a system you can trust for the long haul. You can't trust your applications will remain compatible.
    Linux is a mess, IMHO.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Shaman (1148)

      Yet, I have been using it nearly exclusively for 10 years and watched it progress as a result of some of these policies. Very seldom have I had an issue caused by the OS.

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:26PM (#25160301)

      Tech shouldn't be about "gee, everybody's using it."

      Ok, lets switch our servers to Plan 9, surely any CS grad will understand how to perfectly use it, right? While yes, you are correct in saying you should look at the benefits of Solaris Vs Linux, and because it is still UNIX it is more or less a void point, but if most of the new graduates don't work with an OS, it is bound to die out and get replaced with a more familiar OS. Either that or you have an incompetent admin running your servers.

      That's not a system you can trust for the long haul. You can't trust your applications will remain compatible.

      No, but you can usually count on a more up-to-date system and generally a stable one at that. Solaris only has a few releases, Linux has many, many more (mostly because it is OSS). Also, most UNIX apps are developed for Linux and later ported to Solaris, not the other way around, meaning that some things may be untested on the Solaris platform.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by synthespian (563437)

        With all the GCC bugs Linux has? With the poor track record on security?

        Linux might be fine and dandy for web monkeys, or huge data crunching. It's cheap. It's fast. But that's not all there is to it, at least for some stuff.

        For apps, on Unix, thanks, but no thanks. Not with that sloppy "release early, release often" process. Even the LHC project had security problems due to Linux. Wake up!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Shaman (1148)

          What kind of crap are you talking about here. GCC bugs? They're common to ALL operating systems using GCC - including OpenSolaris.

          Security issues have been either few and far between - or in applications running on TOP of linux, which is a whole other subject.

          If you had a clue, you'd eat it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            http://lwn.net/Articles/272048/ [lwn.net]

            I'm pretty sure he's referring to this. It was a Linux kernel vulnerability that GCC exposed, not a bug in GCC.

            Of course, that alone is hardly enough to warrant his first two statements: "With all the GCC bugs Linux has? With the poor track record on security?"

            If he has something else in mind, he'll have to bring it up himself.

        • With all the GCC bugs Linux has? With the poor track record on security?

          The bugs usually don't affect the ability to compile code effectively. And I'm sure Solaris has just as many security flaws, it just is less audited as it is proprietary software (with the exception of OpenSolaris which has downloadable source code but I'm not sure if it is OSS) and not used as much as Linux, not to mention that every proprietary software company in existence spends money on "studies" to find security flaws in Linux so they can proclaim that *insert OS here* is much more secure and stable

      • Plan 9 is experimental and you know it. Inferno might be a viable alternative for a grid OS, commercially uppported with Plan 9 design, even though you intended it as joke.

        http://www.vitanuova.com/solutions/grid/ [vitanuova.com]

        Anyway, you sort of prove my point. Too many people make uniformed choice. There might be better solutions out there, if you are willing to think a liittle outside the box. But managers can't really do that, can they? They just look at the $number$ on their spreadsheet, and are mentally unable to fa

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NormalVisual (565491)
        if most of the new graduates don't work with an OS, it is bound to die out and get replaced with a more familiar OS. Either that or you have an incompetent admin running your servers.

        I imagine a lot of MVS admins and users would be surprised to hear this, as I don't believe there are a lot of MVS-centric courses in most IT curriculums.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by fahrbot-bot (874524)

        Also, most UNIX apps are developed for Linux and later ported to Solaris, not the other way around...

        There was a time, actually not all that long ago, that Sun (SunOS and Solaris) was the development platform of choice (coming from its BSD roots). In fact, GCC was first developed for the VAX and Sun circa 1988.

        From: A Brief History of GCC [gnu.org]

        Date: Sun, 22 Mar 87 10:56:56 EST
        From: rms (Richard M. Stallman)

        The GNU C compiler is now available for ftp from the file
        /u2/emacs/gcc.tar on prep.ai.mit.edu. This

    • Let me add some more: I can't, for the life of me, imagine Linux running on Computed Tomography scanners.
      That would be horrible, that would be criminal...You often see Sun - and I suspect Solaris - on medical hardware. There must be a reason for that...

      For instance,

      http://www.sun.com/solutions/documents/success-stories/HC_Philips_BB.xml [sun.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Alpha830RulZ (939527)

        There must be a reason for that...

        And that reason couldn't be that Sun is someone to sue if something goes wrong? Makes business sense, but not technical sense.

  • Performance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <.enderandrew. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:16PM (#25160207) Homepage Journal

    I keep hearing that Solaris is the king of performance. Aside from ZFS, is the kernel really that much better?

    With OpenSolaris, I'd really like to see some standard benchmarks of a few common server distros (SLED, CentOS, Debian, FreeBSD, NetBSD, whatever) compared to OpenSolaris on the same hardware.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shaman (1148)

      ZFS is really not that impressive. Only if you are building systems with giant disk subsystems - which is exactly where you will be buying SAN at this point instead. We just bought a HP 5000 series SAN with 138 disk drives in it... does self-healing and provides up to 1.4TB/s throughput, doesn't use ZFS. ZOMG!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bonkeydcow (1186443)
        zfs in incredibly impressive. No fsck. That's huge. snapshots... allowing zone users to manage their own storage...Unlimited filesystem size. (Your storage array can be huge but if your filesystem can't handle it....
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by chekk4 (1367067)
        Actually, ZFS really IS that impressive. Almost platter speed using the equivalent of raid-6 without a hardware raid controller. It's not perfect, but in my testing, it has performed extremely well.
        How do you get 1.4TB/s with only 138 drives? Even if you have hundreds of gigabit switches, the drives collectively are nowhere near that aggregate throughput.

        Cheers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Those two guys above this are spot on, and I'll add that ZFS administration is beyond easy and effective. Growing file systems on the fly is also a piece of cake. We've been using ZFS in our DC for about two years now and it is almost *criminal* how easy it is to take care of! Did I mention that our Solaris 10 zones cost around $2500 each on SPARC h/w, while our Windows pals are offering individual VMware virtual instances for about $4000/ea? I love it!!!1!
        Personally, I

    • Re:Performance (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:58PM (#25160561)

      Got the balls to drop an strace on your production Oracle database? I tried strace on an Oracle database on RHEL 5 and the damn process deadlocked and the box needed a reboot to clear it up. Good thing it was a development DB.

      I've put a truss (and now dtrace) on PRODUCTION Oracle databases running on Solaris many times.

      I don't dare do that on Linux.

      Solaris is as far beyond Linux in stability as Linux is beyond Win2K.

    • BTW, I'm an idiot and I meant to type SLES and not SLED.

  • by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:19PM (#25160233) Journal

    When evaluating the success of a product in the marketplace, it's important to note that there are many features of even highly technical products that are not technical in nature, at all.

    Linux compares very closely to BSD from a technical standpoint, BSD has a much longer history than Linux, and is arguably better than Linux in many areas. It's definitely had more time to mature. So what feature does Linux have that has everybody talking about Linux?

    Its license.

    I'm not knocking the excellence that Linus Torvalds [wikipedia.org] has displayed over and over again over the years. He's done a great job and I depend on his efforts every day in running my own business. But as great as Linus has done managing the technology of Linux, it would be hard to say that Theo De Raadt [wikipedia.org] has done any worse. It would be easy to claim that Theo's work is more secure, but both have produced excellent products that are truly world class in nature.

    But what has everybody talking about Linux is the license - the share and share alike requirement laid down by the GPL, which turns the Tragedy of the Commons [wikipedia.org] around on its ear so that everybody is pushing the project along together, rather than taking what's convenient and giving nothing back.

    The sad truth? "More free" isn't always better. Just like "less government regulation" isn't always a good idea [google.com], you can often get a better mix for everybody by limiting people's freedom to screw each other.

    Now, Solaris is behind the 8-ball. Even with the same license as Linux, they'd have to show a clear, compelling advantage to cause people to switch their efforts away from Linux. Given just how good Linux is in so many different areas that Solaris can't even touch today, that would be very, very hard to do.

    Show me a Solaris supercomputer and I'll show you hundreds of Linux-based supercomputers. Show me a $40 Solaris-based router, or a Solaris phone, or a Solaris-based pocket calculator. Ironically, while Solaris is touted for "big iron", it's a non-starter in the list of the top 500 supercomputers, while Linux is dominant.

    Go Tux!

    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:31PM (#25160335)

      Solaris doesn't play in the supercomputer market because the Sparc architecture is not cost effective for that application. The big iron that Solaris runs on are enterprise scale database servers, which are optimized for an entirely different set of performance parameters.

      • by mcrbids (148650)

        The big iron that Solaris runs on are enterprise scale database servers, which are optimized for an entirely different set of performance parameters....

        which is a relatively small market that is rapidly being marginalized as commodity hardware increasingly becomes capable of matching the performance requirements of such large-scale databases.

        I remember an "enterprise solution" based around a Digital Vax 11/750 that filled a good-sized room, with 3 300 MB hard drives, each the size of a large dresser drawer,

    • by BlueQuark (104215) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:37PM (#25160385)

      Please elaborate with what aeras and tasks that Linux is so good at that Solaris
      can't touch?

      I use both Solaris and Linux in my environments and Solaris 10 is by far the superior
      OS in my opinion. We have Solaris servers on both SPARC and AMD64 and Linux on AMD and Intel 64 bit hardware.

      We had migrated a number of Sybase instances to Linux, but we kept having reliability and performance problems, so we migrated them back to Solaris but Solaris 10 on AMD64 boxes
      and we've been extremely happy with the results.

      Our company is current migrating all of our market data servers to Solaris AMD64 servers in Zones and will reduce the number of Linux servers which stand at 25 to 4 X4600s running Solaris 10. In our testing of Solaris on x4600 as opposed to DL585s (same CPU and memory configurations) we have seen a large performance gain and cheaper operating costs, since we don't have to pony up a RedHat license for each server.

      • I dabble in Solaris at a customer, but run Linux on our own servers and at home. Solaris is *way* ahead of Linux in Logical Volume Management (ZFS), virtualization (xVM and Zones) and other "enterprise" features involving storage, memory, and security. However, if you want to edit video, record a MIDI performance, or use cheap consumer hardware not carefully selected for Solaris drivers, you had better be able to port the Linux driver from source - or just use Linux.

        To oversimplify, between the GPL kernel

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Alpha830RulZ (939527)

        since we don't have to pony up a RedHat license for each server.

        Um, is this an 'am I stupid' test? If you have any sort of test environment, you run redhat on the test server and CentOS on production. Personally, I've done fine for four years now with Fedora in production. No support dollars. The precise reason you run linux is so you can multiply your servers without marginal SW cost. If you need to run Oracle or something that you can't multiply, then Solaris on big Sparc makes sense.

  • PC-BSD anyone? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by not already in use (972294) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:20PM (#25160243)
    I think it would be more appropriate to contemplate FreeBSD entering the desktop market with PC-BSD. PC-BSD certainly isn't a good name from a marketing standpoint, but you'd be hard pressed to find significant features found in Linux that aren't found in FreeBSD 7. Then, consider the fact that FreeBSD includes ZFS support out of the box, and won't suffer from distro-itis, in which too many linux distributions exist that use too many different stacks/packaging systems, etc. FreeBSD is open while having a unified direction, the latter missing from the multitude of desktop linux distros.
  • It's the hardware (Score:2, Interesting)

    by espergreen (849246)
    Solaris is dying, but it's because of the hardware. The "big iron" sparc hardware is simply obsolete. Paying tens of thousands of dollars for a 2ghz sparc system is looking less and less attractive. Solaris x86, of course, cannot compete with Linux. AIX is still relevant due to the great LPAR virtualization and great POWER hardware. Nothing from HP or Sun comes close.
    • I've worked in Sun Shops before, and I've seen Sun support folks come in to repair 15 year old boxes that were running mission critical databases. Also, if you write sun certified software, they tend to bend over backwards to ensure it will be backwards compatible. I've even seen Sun send engineers when a Solaris 6 App stopped working in Solaris 8 to help the shop solve the problem.

      That may not seem like much to you, but if your a decent sized business that is making millions of dollars per year and it ha

  • Rival what huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aphoxema (1088507) * on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:33PM (#25160349) Homepage Journal

    I wasn't aware of the 'rivalry' between Sun and, uhh, those bunch of other people who openly contribute to GNU/Linux.

    Maybe it's similar to that 'rivalry' between Gnome and KDE, or Slackware and Red Hat, or all those other things that it's generally the onlookers that assume there's a conflict because heaven forbid there's such a thing as two different things sharing the same space when there's a choice to be had between them.

    So, one day Solaris might win and then everything else will be gone?

    These competitions only exist when there's money or ratings at stake, or when people are bored.

    • I wasn't aware of the 'rivalry' between Sun and, uhh, those bunch of other people who openly contribute to GNU/Linux.

      It is probably more of a one-way rivarly. I know a few engineers at sun and they all have stories to tell about certain fellow employees who have a very microsoft-vs-linux type of attitude about solaris-vs-linux.

  • by debatem1 (1087307) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:36PM (#25160367)
    Solaris runs on mission critical systems, the kind that will (absent horrible, business-destroying failure) be running until their tape drives rust solid. It isn't going anywhere, and even if Sun's interest in it evaporates, there will probably still be thousands of systems out there chugging along merrily for years to come.
    • by Shaman (1148)

      This is probably the first sane statement in this article yet. :) Thanks for that.

  • The Times? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fm6 (162816) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:39PM (#25160399) Homepage Journal

    I was a little confused to see this on the NYT web site, since most readers there would never have never heard of Solaris before. But this seems to be some kind of syndicated story that's appearing on a lot of other web sites. This one [thestandard.com] has an interesting post from somebody at Gracenote. Of course, his comments will be read in light of the fact that Gracenote is Evil [slashdot.org].

    A decent article, though I wish they had quoted somebody besides a Linux Foundation flack for the Solaris-Is-Dying side of the argument.

  • by TheMidnight (1055796) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @08:40PM (#25160407)

    Solaris is the smallest percentage of UNIX platforms my company's clients run on. AIX is first, followed by HP-UX. However, though Linux is a popular operating system with universities, web sites, startups and small server solutions, Linux on x86 scales horribly (and I do mean horribly) on our application and other high-performance database solutions with thousands of users compared with the big UNIX operating systems. ext3 can't support the filesystem throughput required even with RAID 10.

    We still configure Solaris systems on Solaris 10 UltraSparc, and I believe Sun just came out with a new, rather mean processor. Solaris, and certainly HP-UX and AIX, are not going anywhere soon. There are too many enterprise database systems (new, not just legacy) that require the far more powerful and scalable hardware and software that Sun, IBM and HP offer.

    Have you ever benchmarked the 4.7 GHz POWER6 chips on AIX 6.1? It's the fastest processor and operating system combination I've ever seen.

  • Stupid flamebait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jlarocco (851450) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @09:08PM (#25160647) Homepage

    This is like asking when Ford is going to squeeze Chevy out of the automobile market. It probably isn't going to happen, and there's really no reason why it should.

    Competition is good. "Monoculture" is bad. Having more than one dominant UNIX-like OS is good. In this case it's great because both products are more or less standards compliant.

  • Meanwhile... everyone else ponders the future of the New York Times, when the Internet and online computing is getting all the buzz.

    Can a dead tree [forbes.com] publication survive?

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

  • Of course it will! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SEE (7681) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @09:22PM (#25160741) Homepage

    After all, the arguments for Solaris's survival are cogent and persuasive. A handful of features, an installed base, a matter of trust, superior solidity, people actually switching back.

    All, indeed, the same cogent and persuasive arguments presented in 1998 for why SCO's Unix versions weren't going anywhere anytime soon. And look at SCO today!

  • Solaris Sparc is dead. Solaris x86 may have a chance as the performance is good.

    Every experience I've had with Sun hardware and software has been a real fucking pain in the ass. Sun has no place in the low to mid range from what I've seen. As for high range, it may be worth the effort but I can't comment from experience there.

  • I wonder how much the downturn in financial services is going to hurt sales of Solaris. The only companies I know of who go out and buy $500k Sun servers by the pallet are financial services, and perhaps a couple of telcos.
  • I ask the question seriously. In fact, I was speaking last night to a buddy of mine who works on Sun midrange systems. Though Java and Netbeans are a great development tool, and Virtual Box is a great virtualization tool, what about the core OS?

    I had a chance this week to test just that. I went to a tech forum sponsored by my company (Los Angeles County) and discussed some items with a Sun rep who was there. We apparently have some Sun (along with HP) servers. (We also have several dozen IBM mainframes.) I
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      Wow, you're judging an OS entirely based on third-party software and the installer?

      What has Sun done lately in Solaris? Here are some examples:

      • ZFS. Want to add disks on the fly? Expand volumes to include them? Tune the amount of redundancy (from something like RAID-6 to double-mirroring, or no redundancy at all) on a per-volume basis? Want to be able to create new volumes as easily as creating directories? Want to be able to make constant-time snapshots? Want writeable snapshots (clones) for tes

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