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Sun Microsystems Operating Systems Software

Solaris 9 x86 Review 292

ValourX writes "Here is a review of Solaris 9 x86, 08/03 edition. Now that the single-CPU edition is free to download for non-commercial use, people will be compelled to write a Solaris CD and try it out. Read this first -- there are a lot of things you should know before you begin. You might want to check out the documentation or explore other resources like the hardware compatibility list as well."
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Solaris 9 x86 Review

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  • by djh101010 ( 656795 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @11:27AM (#7710481) Homepage Journal
    Don't get me wrong. I'm a Sun guy going back to the SunOS 3.5 days, Solaris is a wonderful thing. But, for x86, we have lots of *BSD and Linux options. Solaris on x86 has previously been limited in hardware supported, and in community participation.

    Can someone suggest a case where it would make more sense to use x86 Solaris rather than Sparc solaris?

    It seems to me that Sun's resources in these (ahem) difficult times for them would be better spent in developing what they're best at - big, robust, server-room boxes, rather than diluting their OS development efforts by spending time porting it to Intel.
    • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @11:57AM (#7710657) Journal
      The biggest one is a consistent OS across the board.

      We've got a group of geophysicists who use high-end sparc desktops (just receieved eight loaded Blade 2500s this week). Now having the rest of the group using the same computing platform would help substantially, and Intel hardware is still substantially cheaper than the Blade 150.

      Really, I suspect that Sun releasing this is a way of seeing what the maximum prospective customer base might be. They're pushing their "X86 Java desktop" hard right now, and before they get too far into that I think they want to gauge how much development to put into Solaris/x86 as a desktop OS. (i.e. fancy apps, user friendly stuff)
    • It rather does beg the question, doesn't it? I run mostly SPARC/Solaris systems with some SGI's and Linux mixed in and I can't think of many situations where I'd go for the x86 version. If I wanted an *all* Solaris shop, there'd be a case for it on low end boxes, but that's unlikely as monoculture of any type is bad(tm) :) Besides, second hand SPARC systems can be had cheaply on eBay or even new from Sun/Fujitsu these days.

      I wasn't surprised that Sun dropped Sol x86, but apparently there was a revolt from
    • I'm genuinely interested as a bit of a *ix geek (netbsd, osx, linux, across x86, ppc and 68k platforms) - what does solaris offer? Whether on sparc or x86 I'm not fussed, but what's it's focus?

      Always been curious, but never found a Sun person sit still long enough to grab them and get a good layman's answer :)

      • by adam872 ( 652411 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @12:32PM (#7710824)
        I often ask myself (or am asked by someone else) the question "why do you use SPARC/Solaris when there are supposedly cheaper alternatives?"

        - Reliability: I have found Solaris to be the most stable and reliable server OS I've used (obviously IBM Mainframes and VMS are even more so, but I haven't really got a lot of experience with them). This counts for a lot, as most of the sites I've looked after demand this in their requirements. Linux is pretty good too, but I have found Solaris to be absolutely rock solid.

        - Relatively secure. It doesn't come out of the box with all the security you'd want, but its pretty damn easy to automate the install to get it to be so. It's certainly more secure than Windows :)

        - Support. I've always found Sun support to be excellent, either through SunSolve or the call centres. This is a big plus.

        - Application and Hardware support. Most of the big software and hardware vendors have a Solaris version. Makes it a bit easier to deploy things when you know they are certified.

        - Ease of admin. I have become so used to Solaris that sys admin is pretty much second nature (but you could easily say the same for other OS's I guess).

        - Standards compliant. All of the usual suspects are here: NFS, NIS, LDAP etc etc. Some of these standards were even developed by or with Sun's help. Interoperability is easier with Solaris than manyh other OS's IMHO.

        I could go on and on, but that's my 2c. Obviously other folks will be able to say the same things for other OS's, but Sun have earned my trust (and dollars) over the years. I don't see any reason to fix what is already working, particularly with the price of their hardware coming down dramatically.
        • by AKnightCowboy ( 608632 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @02:27PM (#7711425)
          On the other hand, Solaris scores a big fat negative with patching. Their patching options seriously suck badly. In the Linux world you have great tools like up2date, urpmi, apt-get, etc. In Solaris you have... PatchPro... a horrible piece of crap java based patch management installer that simply does not work. At least, that's been my opinion of trying to use it with Solaris 8. In the end I always end up going back to just downloading the recommended patch cluster every few months, unzipped it, and running install_cluster to keep up to date on patches. Solaris desperately calls for better patch management without requiring you to install some bloated thing like SMC.
          • Good point. Actually installing the patches is a piece of cake, but I agree that distribution isn't as good as other vendors. We usually end up scripting it and patching from NFS shares.
          • Dude. *DO NOT* use patchpro. It is a complete piece of shit! Instead, do one of two things:

            A) periodically download "rec+sec" patch bundles from and install them

            B) Or, do what I do and run your own superglue patch server. This is just an nfs share with the patch collection unzipped into it, along with a cron job that updates it once a day on the server. Truely trivial to manage.

            Info on superglue (written about my particular superglue installation, which you can use if you want, b

    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's a foot in the door, perhaps. One of the reasons for the current popularity of Linux is its availability on cheap hardware. You play with Linux on your desktop at home, at school, wherever, and you get familiar with it. Then, when it comes time to use it in a serious server deployment, you have (at least some of) the skills and the confidence to really use it. IOW, by putting Solaris out there for the x86, Sun helps to increase the base of available admins.

      Second, there are at least hints that Sun
    • Can someone suggest a case where it would make more sense to use x86 Solaris rather than Sparc solaris?

      Can someone suggest a case where it would make more sense to use x86 Solaris rather than x86 Linux?

      Having the same OS on newer and more optimal hardware (read x86) as on old overpriced one (Sparc)? Give me a break.

      The compnay where a friend of mine works they installed Linux on all low-end Sparc stations the used to host small servers. And they exchanged mid/high-end Sparcs with Power4/PPC thanking I

    • It helps Sun by letting them get their foot in your door by letting you get your feet wet.

      Sun needs an entry level system to get users that may graduate to enterprise SPARC systems to get started with Sun.

      Sun's situation without Solaris x86 would be much like Apple's situation before the introduction of the I-Macs. All of Apple's systems were quite good and quite expensive. All of Sun's systems are quite good and quite expensive. Apple did and Sun does have a fiercly loyal and satisfied customer base bein
    • The main reason this is useful to me is for "kicking the tires" of Solaris 9 (as the CoyboyNeal implies in his caption). At work we are still running Solaris 7 on production servers and don't have a lot of spare Sparc systems lying around for testing. Being able to install Solaris 9 under VMware or random x86 systems is a very convenient way for me to get some experience with this release. However, I can't think of a good reason to deploy it in production.
    • This helps me by giving me true Solaris experience.
      This helps Sun by giving me true Solaris experience.

      I agree that using Solaris is not the best use of an Intel box, but working within the limitations of Solaris is a great learning experience for the Linux admin. One more OS to add to the Resume, it proves to potential employers that you are willing to learn the different Operating systems and are not a zealot for a particular operating system or worse, a particular Linux distribution.

      This is not the
    • Only purpose I can see with Solaris x86 is a portable jumpstart server running under vmware on my laptop. Useful for those emergency outages late at night.

      Of course, whether it RUNS under vmware is another issue.
    • Solaris on x86 is like linux on sparc...

      However, I was going to use Solaris x86 on a previous project because it has better threading capabilities. This can make a big difference in highly threaded systems like the Java VM.

      I struggled trying to get it to recognize the second drive on a pretty standard adaptec scsi card. I eventually gave up and went with linux. Now that redhat 9+ has the new threads there would really not be much point to using solaris.
  • better yet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by segment ( 695309 ) <sil@ p o l i t r> on Saturday December 13, 2003 @11:27AM (#7710482) Homepage Journal
    If you have a few bucks you might want to get an older sparc to try Solaris on. Sol x86 is a security nightmare, and its not the same as using sol under sun's arch. e.g. I run most of my sites on sun boxes, and love it, using x86 sol... Hate it. Definitely not the same if you ask me
    • Definitely not the same if you ask me

      How comes? Do Sun deliberately package their x86 version differently? If so, what's different?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Sun's goal for Solaris X86 and Solaris Sparc has been "bug for bug" compatability. The OS packaging is the same, but not all of the add-ons may be available, especially for talking to hardware that only works with SPARC based systems or high-end stuff.

        "Segment" is being deceptive. He keeps listing bugs for Solaris X86 as if they exist only on Solaris X86 when they really exist for both versions. It isn't hard to determine if you go back to the source documents. Just look for lines like this in Sun's pa
    • Re:better yet (Score:2, Informative)

      by f1ipf10p ( 676890 )
      Wish I had some mod points to bump this up!

      A used sparc is a great recomendation. Or build your own: []
    • The last time I played with Solaris x86 was the week that Solaris7 was released for that platform. (i.e. early 1998, I think.)

      So with no recent knowledge on my part (but LOTS of knowledge of Solaris/Sparc--I'm writing this message on my Ultra2 right now) what makes the x86 version sucky? What differences are there?
  • Save some time (Score:5, Informative)

    by cflorio ( 604840 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @11:27AM (#7710490) Homepage
    Don't forget to check out Sun Freeware [] to save some time trying to compile stuff on Solaris. The Sun guys love to compile things using the Sun cc compiler, which they don't include in the normal distro. Good luck adding in new perl modules that aren't native perl to the perl that comes with Solaris.
    • Re:Save some time (Score:3, Interesting)

      by __past__ ( 542467 )
      Not to mention pkg-get, a really nice utility roughly similar to apt-get.

      Another great option to make installing lots of free software packages painless on Solaris (disregarding the obviously superior strategy of LARTing all those l33t L1nux c0d3rz who think that "portable" means "compiles on both Red Hat and Debian" until they beg for a set of Coherent floppies to test their buggy code on it) is the NetBSD pkgsrc tree (what the other BSDs call ports), which happens to be actually platform independent. No

  • by Xolotl ( 675282 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @11:31AM (#7710510) Journal
    I think the most relevant point made is that Solaris x86 would be most useful in and environment where the are already a large number of SPARC Solaris machines and the advantages (to both users and administrators) of a homogenous environment outweigh the hardware hassles. A lot of scientific and medical institutions are still largely Solaris-based, so for them it would be useful.

    That said, Linux or BSD with olvwm [] or XFce [] can be made to look so much like Solaris that most users won't care, and the hardware compatibility won't be a problem. I guess it depends on what is more important in a given context, really.

  • Is anybody using Solaris x86 on the desktop, or is everybody just running it on servers?

    We have ported our TextMaker [] word processor to Solaris x86 (after Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, Pocket PCs, and Handheld PCs) but I am not sure if it is worth releasing it and having to support yet another platform.

    So... is there a significant number of Solaris x86 desktop users?

  • click here (Score:5, Funny)

    by genevaroth ( 685479 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @11:35AM (#7710534)
    I went to check out the SUN site with the links, Click "Security Everywhere" hehe

      Since this post will likely be on the internet far longer than the humorous result, I'll spoil the joke. "Security Everywhere" is part of a series of multimedia Sun OS tours, and here is it's abstract:

      End-to-end security in the Solaris 9 OS is achieved by enabling a secure configuration during install, and through the integration of added security services.

      Clicking the link shows the page with this source code:

      <title> Not Found </title>
      <body BGCOLOR="#FFFFFF">

  • by cybrthng ( 22291 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @11:38AM (#7710556) Journal
    It takes time for you to get the system the way you like. Right now Solaris 9 is the absolute lowest "TCO" unix/linux for enterprise to servers and down to workstations. Redhat workstation costs hundreds more and has less true application support (certified vendor support) then Solaris9 X86.

    And your lying through your teeth if you say there is no support.




    Solaris9 X86 is a good stepping stone, a good resource to learn from and if accepted by the industry a very stable platform.

    Sun DOES provide security updates, sun DOES provide software updates and there is already a ton of Gnome/KDE/Enlightenment stuff ported to solaris.

    Give it a try, i'm sure you may like to see what an industrial strength workstation feels like to run. Honestly.
    • by axxackall ( 579006 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @12:32PM (#7710825) Homepage Journal
      Right now Solaris 9 is the absolute lowest "TCO" unix/linux for enterprise to servers and down to workstations. Redhat workstation costs hundreds more and has less true application support (certified vendor support) then Solaris9 X86.

      You are trolling, aren't you? Or you completely do not know what are you talking about. Or you just work for Sun. There is no other explanation why would you post here such a bullshit.

      The only company that still insist that Solaris has lower than Linux TCO is Sun. Another company that is saying the same about Unix vs Linux is SCO. All others, including IBM, HP, and even SGI, agree that Linux has lower TCO, despite the fact they sell own Unix distros.

      By the way, it becomes suspicious, all three companies are saying the same about Linux: Sun, SCO and Microsoft. Something is common for them behind the scene.

      • Those three are not all in bed together. If they all knock Linux a bit, it's because they're all competing with it. That said, of the three, only Sun releases products installed with Linux. They just suggest Solaris is better.

        It is unfathomable for Sun to work with Microsoft. Hang out around Sun people or listen to McNealy and you'll know what I'm talking about. Linux may or may not be a threat to them, but they absolutely hate Microsoft - to a fault. They're not going to work with Microsoft to try and und
    • It's no different from Linux? It's closed source! That's pretty different by any standard. Sun might provide updates, but they do it very slowly, especially compared to the average Linux distribution. And finally, what the hell is an "industrial strength workstation"? So-called workstation-class Sun machines are now just PCs with a sparc processor in them. They have the same bus (PCI), they use the same kind of connection to mass storage devices (ATA), hell they even have the same ATA chipset as other kinds of computers, the CSA-649U is in several Sun machines, and the G3 macintoshes. (And it is trash.)

      Sun machines are not different from PCs in any significant way besides the processor (which is slower than modern PC processors at most tasks in spite of being 64 bit and having boatloads of cache) unless you have a multiprocessor machine. The days when every Sun machine was superior to every PC are long, long gone. The days when Solaris was superior to Linux for single-processor machines, likewise, have receded past the horizon and are well out of sight. Solaris' only real advantage today is on systems with many processors, especially when you get out of the realm of what Linux will actually run on.

      As for your lowest TCO, I don't believe Sun when they say it, and I don't believe you. Where's the figures?

      • Can't looking costs yourself?

        Figure a 4 way SMP machine with hotswappable CPU's. THere is only 1 i repeat 1 linux compatible machine and it costs 25,000.00 for a 4 way Pentium 3 700 mhz machine with a backplane/hotswappable chasis system.

        For 25 grand i have a 4 way 1.2 ghz Ultra64 V880 with nearly 8 gigs of ram and 512 gigs of fibre channel disk.

        Also figure this.. I can buy a Sun netra X1 with OS cheaper then a comparibly priced linux, dell, redhat, suse system.

        1. The sun has a watchdog card built in
    • I administer a network consisting of a mix of SPARC Solaris, Win2k Professional, and 1 SCO unix box. The SCO box is very old and is used as a controller for a special application. Some time ago I decided to port the SCO box software to Redhat linux 8.0. As I was nearing completion of the port I discovered that Redhat was dropping this line of linux.

      I believe it's important to be able to maintain patch levels on my systems for security reasons. Knowing that in the future I will not be able to keep my pa
  • compelled? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Imperator ( 17614 ) <slashdot2@omTWAI ... net minus author> on Saturday December 13, 2003 @11:42AM (#7710588)
    Now that the single-CPU edition is free to download for non-commercial use, people will be compelled to write a Solaris CD and try it out.
    Compelled!? I've heard of OS Nazis, but I had always assumed that was just a figure of speech...
  • No free SMP? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gvc ( 167165 )
    I went to the SUN site yesterday and did not notice that the free download was for single-CPU systems only. On my return today, I see parts of the site is unresponsive (is SUN /.-ed?).

    Anyway, if there is no SMP support I wasted a fair amount of emotional energy that could have been saved had SUN made this restriction more clear.

    I'm not sure that I'm so keen anyway. I have a big Ultra-SPARC and many Linux systems. For the most part I find that I have grown to prefer the Linux environment. But I have a
  • by orkysoft ( 93727 ) <orkysoft AT myrealbox DOT com> on Saturday December 13, 2003 @11:54AM (#7710650) Journal
    Now that the single-CPU edition is free to download for non-commercial use, ...

    The SMP edition is available for $699 ;-)

  • Poor Review (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 13, 2003 @12:00PM (#7710672)
    I've never felt compelled to post anything to /. before, but this review truly didn't give the proper perspective needed to fairly judge Solaris x86.

    Solaris x86 is an amazingly stable OS, and I've met many, many people who work in data centres who swear by it. Stable + secure + supported are the most important things to people who rely on mission critical applications.

    Now, to clear up some of the misconceptions of this reviewer:
    1. Almost any piece of open-source code will run on it after you compile it properly. Yes, you have to install GCC and change some of your path settings. Time it takes to do this: 5 minutes. You can get a binary version (for x86) of GCC from any of the mirrors.

    2. This software is not meant to run with every piece of hardware out there. As this software is mainly meant for servers in the x86 world, why does it need to support a Radeon9600 card or an Audigy card?

    3. The problems the reviewer was having were mostly configuration problems. Googling around will bring up web pages that show you how to set up network cards, etc.

    So - while the review was written well enough, it totally failed in providing the perspective required to judge this product fairly. There is a steep learning curve required to learn Solaris, but once you learn it, its stability and usability features are well worth it.
    • You can get a binary version (for x86) of GCC from any of the mirrors.

      The Solaris Companion Software CD [] comes in the Solaris Media Kit and contains many Free and Open Source packages compiled and packaged for Solaris. They install under /opt/sfw and include gcc-2.95.3 and gcc-3.3.x, gdb, ddd, KDE, GIMP, Emacs, vim, Python, MySQL, you name it, it's probably there. You can download the ISO images [] for Solaris 8 and 9. Note that it is updated to correspond with the current Update release of Sol

    • Re:Poor Review (Score:3, Interesting)

      by calidoscope ( 312571 )
      The reviewer comes across as a Windoze user who then became a linux geek - Way too focused on GUI administration. Real Solaris admin's prefer to use command line tools over the serial port.

      My install went a lot more smoothly than Jem's, the only issue was not getting more than 8 bits of color. The network came up with no problem when installing Solaris x86 - was even able to browse the web during installation.

      My experience is that Linux beats Solaris in device support, SMB support and eye candy. Solaris

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 13, 2003 @12:09PM (#7710726)

    a) You say things like "if you have a Sun workstation [...] you're more or less stuck with Solaris"

    b) You compare the Watch Errors to the linux console not by referring to the console, but by referring to the keyboard shortcut for TTY1. (Obviously you don't know the horrors of having console messages scroll up your OpenWindows desktop)

    c) You have the audacity to complain that Solaris X86 won't run SPARC-only binaries or OS X Binaries. (It also, sadly, does not make toast pop out of your CD drive)

    d) You don't know about Sun disklabel format. Perhaps you've never actually used fdisk from the console.

    e) You complain that there was no /etc/resolv.conf. You never read the manpages to discover exactly where Solaris keeps its info (hint: try /etc/networks, /etc/hostname.[dev] and /etc/nsswitch.conf)

    f) Instead of taking a screenshot, you link to a hideous old CDE screen grab. You demonstrate a complete ignorance of Motif, and god help you if we mention NeWS.

    g) You complain that you can't migrate data. Perhaps because Solaris doesn't know what the hell Ext2 is.

    h) You complain about Scroll wheels. Then you mention a "usual" fix, for XFree86. That "usually" doesn't work on my SGI box, either. How rude!

    i) You refer to the default shell as SH. Not the Bourne Shell, no. just SH


  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @12:16PM (#7710764) Journal
    OK, this is all just a guess, but I believe it's an educated one.

    Solaris/Sparc will continue to be their preferred high-end server platform, and the place that they put most of their R&D money. It will never be pushed as a desktop environment, except for those environments which require it (data analysts, geophysicists, etc.)

    Linux/Sparc they won't touch.

    Linux/x86, they're pushing on the desktop now with their "Java Desktop." I think that they'll push this _heavily_, even trying to sell to random people off the street. (witness their dealing with Office Despot, last week.)

    Solaris/x86. With their recent ties to AMD, I suspect that they're going to encourage people to use Solaris/x86 on their cheap server lines (esp. the blades), and possibly push the application companies to port their Sparc versions over. Ideally they'd be running Landmark apps and such on Solaris/Sparc machines, but right now many of them are pushing Linux/x86, which is much cheaper for a given performance level right now.

    The biggest reason for Sun having Solaris/x86 at all is to keep people who can't justify the hardware costs of Sparc gear right now, to keep (or in some cases, start) running Solaris (ideally on Sun boxes), rather than going to ye randome Linux platform. Now if Sun can differentiate between their own Linux/x86 offering (end-user desktop) and Solaris/x86 (workstation and low-end server) while maintaining their REAL product (Solaris/Sparc), then they might have a good plan.

    I think that this latest action is mostly to run the x86 product up a flagpole, just to see if anyone cares.
  • restrictive license? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Just like I posted to the last solaris story, with this in the license, who in their right mind would ever even download it:

    E. NOTICE OF AUTOMATIC SOFTWARE UPDATES FROM SUN. You acknowledge that the Software may automatically download, install, and execute applets, applications, software extensions, and updated versions of the Software from Sun ("Software Updates"), which may require you to accept updated terms and conditions for installation. If additional terms and conditions are not presented on install
  • by bajan_on_ice ( 32348 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @12:23PM (#7710793)
    Why do you think Sun is going with the SuSe/JDS for their desktops? Solaris blows when it comes to hardware compatability, and thats exactly what you need when you are doing desktops, since you will find just about any mix of cpu, disks, controllers, networking, sound, video and periferals on a desktop PC.

    Solaris was DESIGNED as a workstation OS for SPARC boxes with very specific hardware specs. It grew up to be an enterprise OS to be run on SPARC boxes with very specific hardware specs.

    Expecting it to run flawlessly on your generic whitebox PC is like expecting to use a hammer to open a beer bottle. Sure it could work, but the results are more than likely to be ugly.

    • While in general I agree with you 100%, my favorite desktop of all time was a Solaris/SPARC box. Well, ok, it was also a AMD/Windows box. It had the PC on a card add-on, so I could run Windows on that with its own VGA monitor, plus I had two monitors on the Solaris side. Working between UNIX and Windows was easy, the mouse just moved across all three monitors, and cut and paste between them was transparent. Sweeeet. Unfortunately, when I quit that job I didn't get to keep the machine.

      That said, a revi
    • Actually the claw end of a claw hammer works great for opening beer bottles. Speaking from ecperience.
  • Solaris adds a great deal of value to Sun hardware, but by itself it isn't worth much unless you absolutely need it. At best the x86 edition is barely competition for Free Software Unix projects in the GNU/Linux and *BSD communities, which scale better, cost less, support more hardware, and are easier to configure, customize and maintain.

    Sun's PR portrays Linux as a "toy" os. This comment doesn't seem to put Solaris in a very positive light on x86. If Solaris is so good from an OS perspective why is the
  • have fun (Score:4, Informative)

    by alsta ( 9424 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @12:56PM (#7710961)
    If you decide to compile stuff on Solaris, some problems are likely to occur if you aren't aware of them.

    1) Do NOT use GNU binutils. GNU strip and GNU ld do not understand Solaris x86 ELF headers and create corrupt binaries.

    2) In almost 100% of the cases, GNU autoconf will not figure out that the Solaris linker requires the specification of a runtime linker option. Solve this by running autoconf like;

    LDFLAGS="-L/foo -R/foo" ./configure

    This is obviously pointless to do if you're using static libraries.

    For more info, read ld(1).
    • I have been using GNU binutils, GNU ld and GNU strip on Solaris. I can safely say that Solaris x86 and Sparc both interoperate with the GNU utilities like a champ. I've never had any issues with either on boht platforms.

      As for the LDFLAGS, I've run into that a few times.
    • Recently I built SSH and had to use /usr/ccs/bin/strip over GNU strip on Solaris for the binary to work at all.

      I strongly disagree with the lambasting you seem to be garnering from people who seem to have little experience with Solaris and managing it properly.

      I personally think that any GNU/"stuff" should be used sparingly from the companion CD wherever possible.
  • I stopped reading... (Score:4, Informative)

    by RevRa ( 1728 ) <[kate] [at] []> on Saturday December 13, 2003 @01:01PM (#7710989) Homepage Journal
    When I saw:
    The Solaris 9 binary license is not all that restrictive when compared with Microsoft's EULA, but the additional supplements end up piling on so many more restrictions that it's more or less on par with the Windows license.

    I know Solaris isn't GPL'ed, but the SCSL still lets you peek at the code if you want. (

    One thing that CDE/Solaris is missing is a comprehensive network configuration panel; network settings still have to be set by hand in Solaris 9, unfortunately.

    Try typing: smc& at the command line. Sun Management Console is a very powerful tool indeed.

    The most detrimental compatibility issue that I encountered with Solaris 9 x86 was that it did not have binary compatibility with Solaris SPARC, GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, OS X, MS Windows or any other operating system.

    One word Mister, lxrun. Try it.

    This article really should have been written by someone who knows at least a little about Solaris. Or by someone who doesn't mind reading some documentation before writing their review. Apparently the author just expected to sit down and have the OS install itself, and then teach him how to use it.

    And yes, there are security flaws in Solaris. That's why the SunAlert bulletins are your friend. That's why you need to roll out the new KJP's when they come out, make sure you keep up on your patch management etc. In other words you know, be a systems administrator and actually ADMIN your systems.

  • Not a fair review (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UNIXGK ( 674091 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @01:22PM (#7711082) Homepage
    The entire review really boils down to one statement: "It's not Linux". And it's not. Solaris is an enterprise OS--standards compliant, stable, scalable, extremely well documented, and well supported (both through free and paid channels). It has good performance management tools, too. It beats Linux handily in all of these categories.

    These are things you won't notice immediately "out of the box", but you'll certainly notice them if you need maximum uptime for your mission-critical enterprise applications. If the factors I mentioned above mean something to you, then you probably already have Solaris in your environment.

    • Re:Not a fair review (Score:3, Informative)

      by iggymanz ( 596061 )
      As a 13 year Sun Sparc & Solaris customer, I can tell you the things you said are true of Solaris on Sparc, but for x86 it's a big question mark. Standards compliant? There are interesting issues porting Sparc code over to x86. Scalable? I don't see any evidence Solaris for x86 would go beyond 4 processors. Well supported? Sun has dropped Solaris x86 in the past, and picked it up again (for how long?) Maximum uptime - a couple of the BSD do as well in my experience for x86. As an aside, on single p
  • As a captive sparc-solaris user for many years, my experience has been that most of the development tools have some bug in them and need to be replaced with Gnu equivalents to compile any of the popular packages you find on the net. And my linux boxes are usually configure-make-make install and you're done. Under solaris, I almost always have to change something to get it to compile. Not to mention most of the dependencies won't already be on your system.
  • boot problems (Score:5, Informative)

    by geoff lane ( 93738 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @01:46PM (#7711236)
    sadly the reviewer had boot problems.

    x86 Solaris WILL live happily with Windows and Linux and a multi-boot system is trivially possible so long as you take some care. The most obvious gotya! is the Sun disk partition id is the same as the Linux swap partition id.

    x86 does NOT insist on using an entire disk. It will happily install into a suitable partition pre-created with the Sun disk partition id. During the install pseudo-partitions will be created as needed within the actual partition.

    I've had triple-boot systems with Win98, Redhat Linux and Solaris all installed on the same drive.

    The reviewer also had network problems. With NICs on the HCL list and many work-a-likes there should be no problems at all.

    You do need to understand what you are doing when installing Solaris, and it helps to understand the network configuration it will be plugged into before you start.

    On the other hand, after answering a handful of questions at the beginning, the installation itself is trivial and automatic on supported hardware.

    I've been using x86 Solaris as my main desktop system for a number of years now in preference to both Windows and Linux (though I'm writing this on a RH8 box) and it does everything that I need day to day.
    • I've had triple-boot systems with Win98, Redhat Linux and Solaris all installed on the same drive.

      I've managed to make Win98, OS/2 Warp Server, Solarix x86, and Red Hat Linux co-exist together before. but I hosed the box trying to add FreeBSD to the mix...
  • Apple is better (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mark_space2001 ( 570644 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @02:39PM (#7711498)
    Not technically better, because I don't know that. But Apple is better because they can get people to LINE UP THE NIGHT BEFORE to pay $129 for what is basically a free BSD OS.

    Remember, free as in speech, not as in beer. Giving away your labour is not the idea. The idea is that you don't hamstring your customers so that they can't tinker around with your OS if they want to.

    Apple's OS X seems to be the best of both worlds. Fast and sexy, non-technical people seem to love it. Get under the hood and its just BSD. Download any POSIX source, compile and install. Tons of documentation, read the kernel source, do whatever you want.

    And people were like having a party just to buy the thing. I think geeks should be 1000% behind this product and Apple too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 13, 2003 @03:31PM (#7711751)
    I seldom read all the way through Slashdot comments because of signal/noise ratio but Solaris is near and dear to my heart. I've used Solaris/SPARC in server environments in several projects at several companies and I would like to weigh in with a vote of confidence for two very important factors: reliability, and scalability. In our telecommunications startup we had a multi-tiered web server / application server / database architecture. We designed it to scale big and we needed incredibly high uptimes. We put a lot of effort into architecting the solution and we relied very heavily on Solaris for reliable and scalable 'servability'.

    It delivered 100%. We had major problems in other areas of our company, project, and personal lives but Solaris was the bedrock of our company and it was stable. We never had to worry about bugs or issues or whatevers.

    We leveraged a lot of free software to sweeten things, we intermixed development on Windows to cut our development costs.

    As someone who has worked closely with Solaris I was pretty disappointed with one apparently biased Linux user's inability to make light work of a Solaris install. Solaris is not a hobby system and you aren't going to play too many games on it. No you aren't going to have fun recompiling the Solaris kernel, but then maybe there are other productive tasks at hand...

    - AndrewZ
    • I mostly agree, Solaris is a great, reliable server OS. But it is slightly annoying as a desktop system, and what else would somebody use x86 hardware for, after all? ;-)

      Anectodal evidence: I never experienced ugly crashes due to bad server code (except of the bad server code itself, of course), however I just tried Gaim on my home Ultra5 recently. It took 15 seconds avarage after I tried to send a message to take down Gnome or CDE, and sometimes I ended up in text mode because the X server became unusabl

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @03:43PM (#7711826) Journal
    Way to go Sun.

    I threw out a copy of solaris7 x86 that I recieved during Linux expo 2000 recently.

    Reason? First off only 2 ethernet cards were supported, no UDMA EIEDE was supported, no USB support, no graphics card support, etc.

    I could not even get it to see my hard drives on my old pentiumIII system.

    However, I went to Suns site and looked at the HCL for Solaris9. Big difference!

    For example my broadcom 411 integrated ethernet card still is not reconigned under Linux or FreeBSD but its fully supported under Solaris. Also my soundblaster live, geforce 4, Sony Dvd writter, and both broadcom and netgear nics are fully reconogigned.

    The only problem I see is that I use both USB keyobards and mice. USB is supported but I did not see my keyboard there.

    Also look under the supported motherboard section? Over 35 models are supported!

    Sun is making a shot here and looks like they are listening.

    My only concern about solaris is lack of package managment. Do I have to build things by source with it? I love the ports of FreeBSD and Gentoo.

  • The license starts at $99 for a single cpu commercial license...
  • A network tip (Score:3, Informative)

    by unstable23 ( 242201 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @04:08PM (#7711959)
    - Never use the 'install' disk to install - always use 'disk 1' to start the install. When you get to the DNS/NIS/LDAP screen the reviewer talks about, you cannot get past it without correct info if you use the install disk. If you use disk 1, you can skip past it after it complains that it can't fetch the info.
    The problem seems to be that the install won't let you set a default gateway, so stuff off-subnet is unreachable, and I've never gotten it to behave correctly.

    Of course, because the info doesn't get saved, yo have to setup resolv.conf etc yourself.

    • Re:A network tip (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The reason it doesn't ask for a default gateway is because Solaris uses ICMP router discovery. On any decent configuration and sane setup, your router should reply to these messages. In some cases when that doesn't happen you'll need to manually add to a file "/etc/defaultrouter", the contents of which is only the IP of your gateway.
  • "Fedora"? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Ice_Balrog ( 612682 ) <> on Saturday December 13, 2003 @04:16PM (#7711999)
    Solaris 9 is not very impressive when you put it next to FreeBSD or a good commercial GNU/Linux distribution like Mandrake, RedHat, SuSE, or one of the better community distros like Debian or Fedora.
    Um, I believe he misspelled "Slackware".
  • Opteron right now offers the best performance for the best price, if they releas a version for that, they could do very very well.
    • From what I've read - the Opteron version of Solaris is supposed to be released summer 2004.

      Equally important is Opteron support for the development tools (i.e. compiler collection) to ease the transition from Sparc to Opteron and vice versa. Done right, Opteron support for Solaris could help Sparc sales as a wider installed base for 64 bit Solaris would encourage porting more applications to Solaris.

  • I heard x86 was god awful, anyone know, has it changed?
  • by kriston ( 7886 ) on Saturday December 13, 2003 @09:39PM (#7713638) Homepage Journal
    The author starts out by writing that Solaris was formerly SunOS and was derived from, among other things, 4.4BSD-Lite. How can we take the rest of the article seriously?

    SunOS and Solaris pre-date 4.4BSD-Lite by over ten years.

    SunOS describes the kernel and operating system services. Solaris describes the "operating environment".

    Solaris was not "designed for SPARC and UltraSPARC." It was written originally to run on SPARC derivates as well as the x86 platform, specifically the AT&T NCR platform which preceded Sun's short-lived x86 SunOS machines, though, technically, the AT&T NCR and Sun x86 boxes predate Solaris. The x86 port of Solaris is by no means a new product.

    The author complains quite a bit, but that should be expected in the Compatibility and the Installation sections of the article. Long-time Solaris users are familiar with all these problems.

    I would have liked some facts to back-up the throwaway comments like "not all that restrictive", "rinky-dink", and "not very impressive".


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