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Sun Microsystems Operating Systems Software IT

Sun to Make Solaris More Linux Like 400

ramboando writes "In an effort to spur adoption of Solaris, Sun Microsystems has begun a project code-named Indiana to try to give its operating system some of Linux's success. Sun has been trying for years to restore the luster of Solaris, but that since has faced a strong challenge chiefly from Linux. Sun wants to embrace some Linux elements so "we make Solaris a better Linux than Linux," said Ian Murdock, Sun's chief operating systems officer, quoting Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, whose latest start-up, Ning, uses Solaris. But it's a tricky balance to adopt elements of Linux while preserving Solaris technology and advantages such as the promise of backward compatibility. "As we make Solaris more familiar to Linux users, we don't [want to] lose what makes it more compelling and competitive.""
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Sun to Make Solaris More Linux Like

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  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman&gmail,com> on Thursday May 10, 2007 @12:47AM (#19062935) Homepage Journal
    Not to say that some of the Solaris tools couldn't use a good sprucing up with newer and fresher versions, but I tend to get nervous whenever Sun codenames something. It usually means that they're about to start on something that isn't a bad idea per se, but will be guaranteed to be aborted prior to any real commitment or follow-through. What state that will leave Solaris in is anyone's guess.

    *shudder* I still remember Mad Hatter. Such promise. Such failure to follow up,
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, that project codenamed Oak was pretty much a bust.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Curtman ( 556920 )
        Nexenta [] is already about as Linux-like as you can get. Hopefully they'll trade in their antique package manager for apt as well.
        • Nextenta! (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MoxFulder ( 159829 )
          That's pretty neat, thanks! I'd never heard of Nexenta before. So basically it's the kernel+libc from Solaris, with the Debian userland...

          But, uhm, is there any real evidence that the Solaris kernel is actually *better* than the Linux kernel? The Linux kernel definitely supports a LOT more hardware. Although Solaris is seen as more heavy duty by a lot of IT folks, I'm not sure if there's a good reason for this besides long-time familiarity.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 )
      I have to laugh at your comment.

      Just the other day, I saw Solbourne. That was the company that was created in Colorado to sell sparc systems. They were the ONLY takers of this at a time when Sparcs were not doing so good. Well, as soon as Sparcs came on a bit, McNeally cut them off. It turned out that it had a funky clause in there, that ultimately allowed them to cut Solbourne's OEM access to the chips. IOW, he pulled a bill gates.

      But keep in mind that was with McNeally in control. This is a wew era. So
      • by LizardKing ( 5245 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @06:31AM (#19064733)

        Bullshit. Solbourne weren't the only people making Sun compatible kit, nor where they the first - Axil were. Meanwhile Tadpole and RDI were making Sparc based portables (I hesitate to call them laptops as the weight would cut the blood flow off from your legs) which were basically SS5s with an LCD screen. Tadpole later acquired RDI. Compatibles came in two forms, those with licensed mainboard designs from Sun, and those with mainboards designed in house. The reason for the demise of most of these companies was not down to licensing shenanigans but the simple fact that few of these machines offered benefits over the Suns own kit. The exception was the portables, and that's most likely why Tadpole are still around.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What state that will leave Solaris in is anyone's guess.


  • by koreth ( 409849 ) * on Thursday May 10, 2007 @12:48AM (#19062947)
    I've liked many aspects of Solaris for a long time, but the #1 thing that turns me off it is the userland tools.

    Yes, I know they ship a DVD with lots of GNU tools, but the fact that the built-in make, vi, grep, etc. are still basically unmodified from the early 1990s (if not longer) is not, to me, a feature. Those hoary old versions should be the ones on a supplementary DVD for those who need perfect backward compatibility with 15-year-old shell scripts and so forth.

    It sounds like that's a focus of this project, so I say fabulous. If I can get ZFS and DTrace plus a modern toolset out of the box, Solaris will start to look much more attractive.
    • If I can get ZFS and DTrace plus a modern toolset out of the box, Solaris will start to look much more attractive.
      Nexenta? [] Peace, Nuno
      • by darrylo ( 97569 )

        Unfortunately, nexenta development appears to be glacial. The last alpha release was what, six months ago??? Now, "six months" might not seem to be too bad -- this is an OS that we're talking about. However, when you consider that the competition (e.g., Ubuntu) comes out with unstable releases every month or two, then, well, nexenta doesn't look too good. This is especially important, as hardware support is a problem with solaris.

        PCI IDE controllers? Last I heard (a few months back), there really wasn

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by timmarhy ( 659436 )
          solaris is REAL enterprise sector stuff. they don't give a shit about lastest and greatest, they care about stability and basic functionality.

          try running ubuntu on a fortune 500 companys network and see how you fair.

          • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @08:17AM (#19065395)
            Well, to one part of your argument, I know at least one fortune 100 company that has a fair amount of ubuntu in place. I also know that a fortune 1 company uses linux extensively, though I do not have specifics on what architecture. With HP, Sun, IBM, et. al taking linux Damn seriously, you can consider linux *real enterprrise sector stuff*. Linux is popular because it implements the fundamental design of Unix systems in a development situation that largely precludes any sort of vendor lock-in. You buy AIX on IBM System p, you have committed that as time goes by your investment is tied to buying from IBM again. You buy RedHat on Dell, and Dell disappoints you can go try HP in a future upgrade with minimal changes (one x86 box is just like another for most fundamental ways that matter). If Red Hat pisses you off, you go to Novell (not quite as non-impact, but certainly well within the realm of possibility, better than, say, AIX to HP-UX). Technical people love the unix-like architecture and the ready availability for whatever they wish. Business loves linux because of the vendor freedom and because the technical guys who love it and know it well are plentiful. Any interview I conduct, I ask about home usage and what they are looking into outside the boundaries of commercial experience. Inevitably the answers are more technically advanced and prove qualifications beyond their commercial work. Being freely available has not hurt. Solaris absolutely will need to cede control and authority so that more than one healthy commercial vendor sells and can support Solaris 100% independent of Sun's help. Making it supported on non Sun systems and x86 didn't help, making it as free-as-in-beer for most people didn't help, and making it more BSD-like has yet to make significant progress. If they GPL the codebase I don't think that in and of itself will help, but if some company or two succeeds in becoming a prominent solaris vendor who doesn't have to go to Sun for any partnership or anything, then it could begin to work, but they still have the momentum of linux which is not a situation easily overcome. I do think if they succeeded in making Solaris a prominent platform, their commercial distribution of it would probably not be that popular (I don't think on many fronts Sun 'gets it' on some of the technical things not right out-of-the-box with their software, the core is good and a good system can be built on it, but I don't think Sun is capable). Admittedly a small market share of a linux-scale market is much better than their total market-share of a small market.

            Now, even if your statement was 100% accurate in every sense of the word, Nexenta's lack of development does *not* represent a stable and basically functional system. It represents a stale Nevada build. Sun has done many better builds since the last Nexenta release. A pity, Nexenta debian-ified Solaris enough to have the package management and general interface strategy be bearable (No matter how you slice it, Nevada's UI may have better options, but it's still ugly and misses a lot of the point in my opinion.
    • by Greg Koenig ( 92609 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:16AM (#19063133)
      I have recently been engaged in a serious effort to learn about Solaris 10, and have been very pleasantly surprised at what I have found. While there may be valid reasons that some Linux users may dislike Solaris, I cannot agree that the criticism you cite about the userland tools being "basically unmodified from the early 1990s" is one of the valid reasons. Most of the GNU userland tools that you describe as missing are actually installed under /usr/sfw/bin in the *default* Solaris 10 install that you get right from the standard DVD. This is in addition to the same non-GNU tools being present in other locations on the default install. You simply need to adjust your PATH accordingly if you want the GNU tools to be found first.

      If you want to prefer Linux over Solaris that's fine, but make sure that what you are criticizing is actually true. Otherwise you are misleading yourself and possibly missing out on some really cool technology. You point out the cool technology in ZFS and DTrace, and I agree that they are really fantastic reasons to use Solaris. In fact, I am right now thinking that Solaris offers a lot of technologies that Linux can't touch without giving up a lot of the characteristics that make Linux useful. Give it an honest chance and you might be surprised at what Solaris 10 can do!
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by drgonzo59 ( 747139 )
        .Give it an honest chance and you might be surprised at what Solaris 10 can do!

        Did that and I didn't even get to the part were I was supposed to get 'surprised'. The biggest drawback of Solaris 10 when it comes to just 'trying it' is hardware compatibilty. Unfortunately it doesn't even come close to Linux. My graphics card's 3D accel, audio, wireless and SATA controller did not work. I can live without 3D on a server and without audio but no hard drive and network connection!? -- Sorry. I had to pass.

        Oh I

        • by Greg Koenig ( 92609 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @03:42AM (#19063923)
          Sorry you had a disappointing experience. Mine turned out much happier.

          I wanted to see what Solaris 10 was like so I put it on an AthlonXP 2400 machine I had. The motherboard has onboard audio and network. I spent a few minutes trying to figure out if Solaris could detect the network adapter and it didn't seem to be able to do so, so I put in an Intel EtherExpress Pro adapter I had in a box and it immediately recognized this. As for audio, I did a Google search for "Solaris 10 audio" and found a site that had drivers that I downloaded, installed with one or two commands that were pretty clearly indicated, and rebooted. Audio worked then.

          My video card is a 2D Matrox card which was immediately recognized and configured by the X11 server used by Solaris 10 (this is called Xorg and is probably the same X11 server you use on Linux). I have seen people using accelerated NVidia video on Solaris 10 but I have not personally tried this. I know that there ARE drivers available from NVidia, so I am assuming that if I can follow the instructions to get them to work with Linux that I can probably also do so with Solaris. One advantage that Solaris has here (as far as I know) is that you don't have to keep relinking the driver to deal with ABI issues that Linux has when you upgrade your Linux kernel. I appreciate that because it makes my life simpler.

          I don't have a SATA controller in my Athlon, so I cannot speak to that. However I believe that the machines coming from Sun have SATA so I assume that it must work.

          I do not believe that Solaris 10 is supported on notebook computers, so I do not believe that wireless cards are typical hardware for Solaris. That said, during my Googling around I did see that someone has some experimental wireless drivers, but I have not looked at them in detail nor have I attempted to use them, so I cannot speak to how well they work.

          I don't think my AthlonXP 2400+, EtherExpress, and Matrox card are too atypical to expect geeks to be able to easily get if someone was determined to try Solaris 10. It was certainly nowhere near as difficult for me to put together this system for experimenting as it was for me to put together my first Linux systems in the mid-1990's that required things like SCSI adapters to really work well.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by jhol13 ( 1087781 )
            My experience, Asus A8V motherboard. Solaris did not (do not?) support the (Marvel) gigabit controller out of box but it was easy to find (alas binary only) drivers for it. Similarly it was easy to download and install NVidia drivers.

            The only problems I encountered:
            1. No support for my scanner (Epson - Avasys makes binary-only drivers for Linux).
            2. No support (back then) for virtual consoles. I *need* them.
            3. Mouse stutt-tters. Horribly. A show stopper. Either GeForce FX5200 is not properly supported by the
          • Network drivers... (Score:3, Interesting)

            by davecb ( 6526 ) *
            Greg Koenig wrote: I do not believe that Solaris 10 is supported on notebook computers, so I do not believe that wireless cards are typical hardware for Solaris.

            Well, I'm typing this from a Sun SPARC laptop, and the wireless drivers are there, as well as a gui from Tadpole for configuring/diagnosing them. They were available somewhere in the Solaris 9 lifetime.

            For cards where there are only or primarily proprietary drivers, Solaris is actually a pretty good bet, as Sun made the effort to go out and buy

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      For one shining example of the age of these things consider that tcopy (a tape copying program) can not copy files larger than 2GB from tape to disk.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nbritton ( 823086 )
      "I've liked many aspects of Solaris for a long time, but the #1 thing that turns me off it is the userland tools."

      I've liked many aspects of Linux for a long time, but the #1 thing that turns me off it is the userland tools. BSD style UNIX is the only layout worth a dam, give that the BSD layout is more prevalent, then Linux, Sun should go back to it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sakti ( 16411 )
        I've liked many aspects of Linux for a long time, but the #1 thing that turns me off it is the userland tools.

        What don't you like about them? I personally prefer the GNU tools to the older BSD derivatives.

        BSD style UNIX is the only layout worth a dam, give that the BSD layout is more prevalent, then Linux, Sun should go back to it.

        Solaris uses the System V layout which is very common, more common that the old BSD layout in my exerience. Linux has no single layout. Slackware uses the BSD layout while Redhat
  • Err.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mr. Flibble ( 12943 )
    Or you could just run Linux on Sun hardware?

    Sun is hemmoraging cash. Their hardware is fairly standard (in an enterprise way) and all the functionality of Linux has jumped ahead of Solaris... So what do they have to offer? Nothing. I can't see what they can do in this regard to gain back market share. making a "better linux" than Linux is not it.

    There are probably other paths that they can take that would be more effective than this one. But I don't know what they are.
    • Re:Err.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by koreth ( 409849 ) * on Thursday May 10, 2007 @12:52AM (#19062985)

      and all the functionality of Linux has jumped ahead of Solaris...

      ZFS? DTrace? Zones?

      • ZFS? DTrace? Zones?

        I thought you could already use DTrace on Linux, and if they GPL their stuff, it will all be ported to Linux. The article says that it would be hard, but you know it would happen. I don't really see them having a separate code base alongside linux. I think it would be rapidly absorbed, and then you would have Sun Linux. And all other flavours with similar kernels and tools if it was fully GPLed. And again, then no advantage after going GPL to them.

        • Re:Err.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:50AM (#19063335) Homepage Journal

          I thought you could already use DTrace on Linux, and if they GPL their stuff, it will all be ported to Linux. The article says that it would be hard, but you know it would happen.
          Linux does not have DTrace. You're right that it will probably happen. Eventually, after much work. And ZFS isn't looking like it'll be an easy addition either. There doesn't look to be an equivalent of Zones either -- Linux has some nice security module hook in the kernel thanks to work by the NSA, but right now it is largely unused (even distros that enable SELinux have very lax policies, and fairly basic management). Again, that might arrive, at some indeterminate time in the future. Considering that your original post was proclaiming:

          ...and all the functionality of Linux has jumped ahead of Solaris...
          arguing that Linux may eventually catch up with these powerful Solaris features is a little disingenuous don't you think? Linux and Solaris are both worth having, depending on what you need. I look forward to what this project, and the OpenSolaris project, can put together.
          • You have a good point. I remember something about brandz and dtrace for linux though.

            Solaris does have those powerful features that Linux does not, but I find myself often having to install extra GPL'ed tools for solaris from sunfreeware, and I personally feel that those tools should be there from the start. But you are right, there are some things that it has that are superior to the current state of Linux.
      • Re:Err.... (Score:5, Informative)

        by this great guy ( 922511 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:21AM (#19063173)

        ZFS? DTrace? Zones?

        May I add: Fault Management Framework [1], Crossbow [2], pNFS [3], stable device driver interface (one of the biggest point driver developers complain about in Linux). Clearly the GP has no idea about the number of technological advances Sun is pushing in OpenSolaris.

        [1] []
        [2] []
        [3] emos/basics []
      • ZFS? DTrace? Zones?

        Get Nexenta [] - basically Ubuntu running a Solaris kernel. /home is ZFS by default - not sure if each homedir is a filesystem or not.

    • However, OpenBSD is generally more suitable if you mean Sparc64 SUn kit. But be warned, owning to Solaris cronic lameness, once OpenBSD is installed on a hard disk, you cannot reinstall Solaris, cos the install crashes with no error message (Both Solaris 10 and OpenSolaris do this). Wiping the partition table does not resolve the problem, either. (On Sparc64 - I have not tried Solaris on i386). I believe ths bug was reported in 1992, which does not say much for their bug tracking process.

      Furthermore, I h

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LizardKing ( 5245 )

      Sun is hemmoraging cash.

      I've never heard of a company that's making a profit [] described in those terms.

  • The only reason I might change is if Solaris was made open source (and free). Thats the reason Linux is superior. Better support, design etc. flows from that.
    • by laffer1 ( 701823 ) <luke AT foolishgames DOT com> on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:04AM (#19063053) Homepage Journal
      Solaris is open source and free. []

      Also consider that some of the better solaris features have been added to FreeBSD recently. dtrace and zfs are available for FreeBSD 7 current.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 )
        Except for us who can only afford older sun hardware. then we have to illegally use Solaris 9 or even 8.

        Sun is ignoring a huge group of up and coming CS/IS/IT students by being asshats and not giving away free sun hardware licenses for the older solaris. I had a stack of old hardware I would have loved to give away to a local computer club or school but it needed to have Solaris 9 installed as 10 is molasses slow on the stuff.

        So I ended up pirating a copy of 9 and installing on the machines and giving them
  • Business model? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Urusai ( 865560 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:00AM (#19063029)
    Sun is a for-profit entity. How do they expect to make money off of their OS? They should GPL Solaris, let the code monkeys snatch the best bits for Linux, and forget about wasting their money developing Solaris. They can write a "shim layer" on Linux for people needing backward compatibility so they don't alienate long-time customers. They need to figure out where they plan on making money, and scrap the parts that lose money. Open sourcing Java was an indication of desperation; we saw plenty of companies open source their product during the dot-com bust, either because they didn't want their work to die, or because they thought it would magically boost market share and generate revenue. It doesn't.
  • by NitroWolf ( 72977 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:00AM (#19063031)
    What the hell are they talking about "...promise of backward compatibility."? I guess it depends on how you define backward compatibility... but I manage about 1500 SUN servers, from old Sparcstations to enterprise class servers, and they are about as backward compatible as putting a stone wheel on your Honda. Sure, it might fit, but you sure as hell don't want to drive anywhere with it.

    Most of my users on various boxes are afraid to even apply Sun patches because it breaks applications left and right. Granted, we are development segment of my company, but still... the Solaris operating system is barely backward compatible within it's own major release, much less between versions. Simple tools will run just fine, of course, but the more complex the application, the less likely it is to run between major versions, and likely going to cause some sort of havoc between minor revisions within the same version. I see it happen daily.

    They really don't need to worry about their "backward compatibility," when trying to make Solaris more Linux like... I'm glad they are doing this - I absolutely hate administrating a stock Solaris system. It feels so archaic and like something straight out of the late 80's or early 90's, back when I was logging into the beasts on my 300 baud modem. The only worse offender in this area is HP-UX... though I will admit that with Solaris 10 and HP-UX 11 there have been some minor inroads into the monolithic, archaic feel to both OS's, but they both have a very, very, very long way to go.

    Just to clarify - I understand why those OS's are that way, but it doesn't mean I like it nor want to use them. If they can retain the stability of Solaris and make it more comfortable to use, I'm all for it.
    • by Anonymous Sniper ( 113827 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:47AM (#19063319)
      Excuse me?

      I just migrated an entire system from Solaris 7 to a Solaris 10 Zone - How? I tarred up /home and /usr/local, and a few other directories, and copied the relevant entries from /etc/passwd and /etc/group. Copied whole applications, their environments, etc.

      Solaris 7 is from 1999, and this is 2007. Try that on an 8 year old redhat box and see what happens. Good luck with that.
    • by BRSloth ( 578824 )

      What the hell are they talking about "...promise of backward compatibility."?

      Probably the fact that their tools don't work like Linux/GNU tools.

      I remember a friend that was configuring an Apache installation on a Sun and, once finished, decided to restart the process with a "killall httpd", like he would do on a Linux machine. The problem here is that the machine was also working as a gateway to the internet and Sun "killall" actually kills every single process, not the one named in the parameters. Five sec

      • by BRSloth ( 578824 )
        Just trying to save my back here: The article mentions mostly userspace tools (ls, deb) and NOT kernel tools.

        I guess Ian meant "A better GNU system than the GNU system".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:00AM (#19063035) like making caviar more vegemite-like.
  • by misleb ( 129952 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:02AM (#19063043)
    Yeah, and OS/2 was a better Windows than Windows. Anyone remember how that worked out?

  • About time (Score:5, Informative)

    by caseih ( 160668 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:16AM (#19063131)
    I'm currently struggling to implement a Solaris server right now. The user space is archaic, obscure, and seems to be difficult for the sake of being difficult. Things like updates are still done the way they were done 15 years ago, often requiring a drop to single user mode (as bad as a reboot in my opinion), and often require a system reconfigure. Solaris' kernel is cutting edge and, in some ways, way ahead of Linux. But in the ways that count, Solaris lags far behind.

    Just to make the system usable requires a ton of third-party software that sun does not ship nor support. In the end my path has nearly half a dozen bin folders in it, by the time you could /usr/bin, usr/local/bin, /opt/sfw/bin, /usr/sfw/bin, /usr/ucp, etc. I frequently find that I have to compile things from source just to get basic functionality. For example, Sun ships Samba with solaris, but it doesn't support LDAP. They also ship some hacked kerberos libraries, based on MIT, but if you need to build anything that depends on kerberos, you have to compile and install a separate set of MIT Kerberos libraries. Some apps are available in package form (solaris packages) from that you can pkgadd. But PKGs don't seem to be a complete packaging system like deb or rpm is. The pkg-get utility from the aforementioned site is very useful, though.

    The init system is currently in a disorganized state. Most things are migrating to svcadm, which under the hood is very much like launchd. But there are still init.d scripts, but they don't always work right. Maybe Linux should move away from init.d, but at least on redhat, they are very full-featured and quite easy to work with.

    Sun's biggest strengths right now are zones, zfs, and dtrace. However, if you don't specifically need these features, Linux is a better choice in many circumstances. And Linux is gaining features in these areas. xen can do a lot of what zones do, albeit much less efficiently. dtrace functionality is coming, I hear. ZFS, well the kernel developers seem to be suffering a bad case of NIH syndrome. The only reason I'm using solaris right now is ZFS. But I'm taking a big risk deploying it on a 12 TB disk. I have yet to hear of a failure, and Sun assures me that it's enterprise-ready. Sun's assurances do carry a lot of weight; they've had a lot of experience in these things. But I'm only a silver-level support customer. It's taken two weeks and some 20 phone calls to get issues sorted out with our sunsolve account and updatemanager. Our assigned support group only wants to talk over e-mail, which is annoying. Turnaround time on trying out their suggestions is hours if not days. This certainly isn't quite the same Sun as in the olden days.

    Anyway, talk to any Sun jocky and he'll tell you that none of my complaints about Solaris are weaknesses. They are strengths. Cryptic commands are second nature. Besides, they separate the real sysadmins from the wannabes. Sound familiar? I think I've talked the same way about Linux to my Windows friends. I'm glad that Ian is going to work to improve Solaris' user space (which is what he means when he says make Solaris more like Linux, right?). On the other hand, Solaris reminds me not to get complacent with the state of linux. Every complaint I have about Solaris could easily be echoed by a Windows refugee trying to make sense of Linux. Both Linux and Solaris are powerful, cryptic, and archaic OSes. They both have a lot of room for improvement. We'll have to see. I told my RedHat friend the other day that his company has nothing to worry about from Solaris. Hopefully Ian will change that.
    • xen can do a lot of what zones do, albeit much less efficiently
      I've read a few other people stating that Zones are a solaris strength Linux doesn't have.

      Unless I'm mistaken; Virtuozzo [] which is based on OpenVZ [] gives you the same functionality on Linux as Zones.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2007 @06:30AM (#19064731)
      Anonymous Coward for a reason: I'm a Sun TSE.

      Caseih" is correct when he says "This certainly isn't quite the same Sun as in the olden days", in regard to support and how it is delivered. It certainly isn't the same Sun for those of us who are tasked with delivering support. Management has implemented all sorts of programs to improve customer "sat" and bring down call hold times, programs that INTERFERE with the day to day support work; effective and seasoned TSEs are bailing out right and left and ARE NOT BEING REPLACED in many cases; the EDS "partners" have a large turnover rate (what do you want for $9 an hour?); more time on the phone taking live calls, meaning the TSE have less (or no) time to do followups, research, spend time in the lab . . .. . . . I could go on but you get the idea.

      The "Dell-ization" of tech support is spreading like a virus; support is a commodity now. Even enterprise level tech support. Sold to the lowest bidder. Who cares if the person on the phone can't spell "LDAP", as long as the call is picked up in X minutes and keeps the manager's pager from going off? THAT is where Sun support is today.

  • by NeuroManson ( 214835 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:19AM (#19063147) Homepage
    But what exactly makes Solaris worth using to begin with? What open source or commercial software makes it worth having? What makes it more than just a fringe system? Linux is finally approaching the point where it stands a chance at competing against Windows in the consumer market, does it really need competition from a fairly mainstream corporation?

    For that matter, sure, the machines look cool on the outside, but why do so many people consider them worth buying (even models up to 10 years old) today, and for that matter, what makes them worth switching over to? Is it sheer geek chic, or do they actually provide some form of useful function, as opposed to Windows/Mac/Linux's growing trend towards multipurpose multimedia machines?
    • by 5pp000 ( 873881 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @02:06AM (#19063415)

      I'm using Solaris because the data mining application I'm building (in Lisp) brings the Linux kernel absolutely to its knees. Solaris runs it just fine on the same hardware. (We're talking 30+ GB of heap -- Linux is dead meat after 3 to 4 GB.)

      A friend of mine says this is because the Linux kernel hackers optimize for the common case, not for extreme cases. I suspect this is correct. To put it another way, they are more into cycle shaving than analyzing the time and space complexity of their algorithms -- just as one might expect from smart hackers with a relatively weak computer science background.

      The result is a kernel that does great on normal workloads, but just falls over when subjected to unusual stresses. Unless and until this is corrected, there will be a need for Solaris.

      • by Skrynesaver ( 994435 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @03:40AM (#19063915) Homepage
        You should look at you kernel parameters ulimit -a As shipped Solaris is intended for big iron in a way that most Linux distros aren't
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by 5pp000 ( 873881 )

          +5, Insightful? Oh, come on, mods.

          This is not a problem that can be tuned away. I'll tell you exactly what's going on. The kernel has, for each process, a table which contains one entry for each contiguous region of address space with the same page protections. Since the Lisp implementation I'm using makes use of page protections to implement its GC write barrier -- a very useful technique for an SMP garbage collector -- it creates lots of small regions, so that this table gets quite large. And, ther

    • Dunno why this was modded down, it's a perfectly valid question. I always hear about how Solaris is such a neetokeen OS and know people who religiously collect and maintain Sun systems. But frankly, they haven't really given me a convincing reason why. Wasn't meaning to troll or anything, so whoever modded the post down as "overrated" (?!?) is just cutting off anyone who doesn't read below 2 from seeing something that could be perfectly valid, educational, or informative information, just because whoever di
    • For desktop use, I'd say Linux has the edge (I think this is what Sun want to address), but for a traditional unix setup (lots of simultaneous users, vast shared storage, system must stay up for months continuously, staying responsive under heavy load) Solaris does a lot better. If you want to build a mail server, for example, those ten year old Sun boxes work quite well. Set it up, rack it, and you might not need to touch it for a couple of years. That's an admin's dream - it just keeps working.

      As for g
    • by Jon Peterson ( 1443 ) <jon@snowdrif t . o rg> on Thursday May 10, 2007 @06:23AM (#19064685) Homepage
      Although I'm not hands on now, I originally moved from Linux to Solaris (with some Irix stuff in the middle). I still prefer Solaris for the following reason:

      Simple is better.

      This single thought is perhaps the biggest lesson I've learned in my whole career, about almost any aspect of computing. Complexity is the enemy.

      caveat: by 'Linux' I mean 'The particular distro your company has standardised on'
      caveat: I'm only concerned with servers. Solaris may be the worst desktop OS in the world FAIK.

      1. Less shovelware. Although a base Solaris install is still annoyingly large, it's not nearly as bad as most Linux distros. It infuriates me that operating systems think its useful to install entire database, programming languages, you name its 'just in case you need them'.
      2. Better backward compatability. Upgrades to discreet parts of Solaris don't usually require upgrades to other parts of Solaris. This means that you aren't constantly trying to run the latest versions of everything.
      3. Better hardware integration. When you are running a lot of servers, it's very useful to have a nice console, so you can talk to the things properly. I think Linux has improved a bit in this area, but I'm not aware that it has an equivalent to the OK prompt, and the various diagnostic tools therein.

      Others have talked about various tools and kernel level stuff, but I wanted to make that point that while the Solaris userland might feel archaic to some, to me it feels pleasantly simple - devoid of hidden complexity, obscure features that badly written apps come to rely on, and all the other 'let's have another feature' attitude prevalent in much OS software.

      To me, Solaris feels like HTTP, and Linux feels like SOAP.
  • How many years has it been since "csh considered harmful" was published? There is simply no excuse for its continued use as a default shell--bash is the current best practice that newbies should be steered toward.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Asmodai ( 13932 )
      Oh please. Lay off the bash fanboyism already. I personally get sick and tired of scripts that assume bash to have been installed under /bin. At least use a more portable hash-bang sequence like #!/usr/bin/env bash to make them semi-portable. Make the default shell a normal bourne again shell and allow users to switch to their own preferred one.

      Also if the bash manual page says this:

      It's too big and too slow.

      Then you just know it is a bad choice beyond e
  • I am now reading the book Rebel Code [] and it is interesting to notice that exactly this was suggested years ago []. If the heads at Sun listened to the "sourceware" suggestion back then, they could have been miles ahead by now...
  • Sun has been trying for years to restore the luster of Solaris, but that since has faced a strong challenge chiefly from Linux

    "As we make Solaris more familiar to Linux users, we don't [want to] lose what makes it more compelling and competitive."

    If it is "more compelling and competitive" [than some other OS, whichever that is], then why the obsession with following after Linux? If Solaris is on the decline, then why not suspend further Solaris development, and launch their own Linux distro along side?

    • by Coryoth ( 254751 )

      If Solaris is on the decline, then why not suspend further Solaris development, and launch their own Linux distro along side?

      Because Solaris still has a lot of features, and can do many things, that Linux can't. More importantly, a lot of those features are either very hard, or well nigh impossible to port to Linux. Getting ZFS included? Over Andrew Morton's dead body. Get DTrace for Linux? Requires quite a lot of messing around with the kernel that you'll have to get all parties to agree to. How about Zones? Not any time soon. How about a stable driver interface? When hell freezes over. The list goes on.

      There is still a lot tha

  • by drDugan ( 219551 ) * on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:21AM (#19063169) Homepage
    Anyone who has managed very high load webservers already knows that solaris has significant advantages. a much better effort would be a grass-roots effort to educate the Linux community of why 10+ years of professional development lead to significant performance benefits on multi-core, multi-processor systems.

    Solaris serves a niche in the market that is growing like crazy now, and most web developers who are building apps today should look into it seriously, IMHO.
  • Are they making CDE less butt-ugly?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by k1980pc ( 942645 )
      I thought they are transitioning off from cde to gnome. All our dev and production boxes already run on gnome as default wm(we are on Solaris 9).
    • Are they making CDE less butt-ugly?

      I was actually thinking about this issue just last night. Why is it that every UI sun comes up with on their own looks and feels like a hat full of arseholes? I just recently had my first play on a Java Desktop (Solaris with gnome2) and even there they have somehow managed to use a theme that shows Gnome in its ugliest possible light. I've used their Dev tools and the are ugly and irritating to use. Why, Sun, why do you put so much effort into making human interaction wit

  • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:31AM (#19063247)
    that's all we want... the current list of supported x86 hardware is ridiculously small... oh and put some effort into Gnu/Solaris... that project has effectively stagnated for ages now and nothing appears to be happening...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by giarcgood ( 857371 )

      oh and put some effort into Gnu/Solaris... that project has effectively stagnated for ages now and nothing appears to be happening...

      Yes Sir! Anything else you would like for free?
      • I'd take part if I could actually install it..., but the project has stalled and there's been no new alpha release for nearly a year... come on guys, you need to do builds far more often...

        I'm not exactly on cutting edge hardware either...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:39AM (#19063283)
    They can start by making the man pages suck.
  • by thogard ( 43403 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:53AM (#19063347) Homepage
    I've been using sunos and Solaris and sun hardware since '86. I can build a very security solaris 9 server that ends up with about 5 packages and a few things from a few other packages so it results in a nice simple stripped down system that is just enough to run the application and its great for systems that live in data centers.

    Then sun comes along with Solaris 10 and adds in a ton of complexity with out providing any additional services. The new things like zones and zfs don't need all the new extra crud but its nearly impossible to build a lean system with solaris 10. There are also a number of issues that are just plain wrong and reeks of security the Microsoft way. Why does live update look inside zones? If its in a zone, its not to be trusted outside the zone. Thats covered in Security layers 101 so back to school guys. (you can purge one file inside a zone that breaks doing patches in the global zone). The new admin tools remove the rc scripts... except that most of them are just moved and hidden by layers of config files. Then it uses a binary file to figure out what to run at shutdown, and it keeps changing the file when servers start and stop and you can't get an accurate picture of the data its going to use when it shuts down the system. Since the file is a binary file, you can't checksum it and you can't dump it so you've got no clue if someone has put a Trojan in it. The data in the file could have just gone in a nice plane text file but I guess the coders missed the Windows registry too much. The appear to be handing the keys to the source castle to any old hack. Someone "fixed" telnetd and added a new feature in one of the worst security lapses I've seen in a long time.

    I just bought 3 new netra 210 because 1) they run SPACR Solaris 9, 2) they fit in my racks and 3) are one RU. I'll stop buying Sun hardware the day I can't run Solaris 9 because there is no way I'm putting Sol 10 on a production machine.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by vilain ( 127070 )
      You aren't the first shop to dump Solaris because of the massive difference between Solaris 10 and all prior versions. My last contract just stopped updating their Solaris 2.6 systems and won't migrate to Solaris 10 because it's so different. They'll probably shop around for replacement applications that can run on another architecture (MRP, document management, engineering drawings, Netscape mail+calendaring). A former employee mentioned IBM, but they refuse to run anything open source (running Linux on
  • Nexenta (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Neo-Rio-101 ( 700494 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:54AM (#19063357)
    Nexenta seems to be doing things the right way for Solaris to proceed as a viable operating system. A debian-like package system and a choice of easy installable GUIs, but still without the hardware support that linux has,

    I am also curious about Solaris's desire to go GPL. If that ever happened, Solaris will most likely be cannibalized into Linux - and Solaris will die a slow death. Even as we speak, the most valuable assets for Solaris (Dtrace and ZFS) are being usurped by FreeBSD (thanks to a more permissive BSD license) - which means that some people may choose it over Solaris.

    Sun really has to work hard to sell us on the benefits of Solaris, and why we would choose it over other things available at the moment.

    • they need to get off their butts and release snapshots far more often... I still can't even get the elatte release to run let alone install from it.
    • I am also curious about Solaris's desire to go GPL. If that ever happened, Solaris will most likely be cannibalized into Linux - and Solaris will die a slow death.

      Actually the opposite is true. If OpenSolaris goes GPL3, then they can use some Linux code (the "GPL 2 or above" code, which is quite a lot), but not vice versa. So only OpenSolaris would gain from going GPL3, not Linux, unless Linux goes GPL3 as well - which may happen in the more distant future. But meanwhile OpenSolaris will be able to utiliz

  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @02:02AM (#19063395)
    A better Linux than free Linux is a Linux they actually pay you to use. Are you listening, Sun?
  • by stox ( 131684 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @02:32AM (#19063577) Homepage

    People are interested in Solaris technology such as DTrace, which lets administrators peer deeply into running software to uncover performance bottlenecks, and ZFS, file system software designed to make storage systems more reliable and easier to manage. But good luck to Linux fans trying to kick the tires.

    FreeBSD current has ZFS and DTrace now! Why wait? Run, don't walk, to your nearest FreeBSD dealer ( ). Let's face it, Sun just hasn't been the same since AT&T strong-armed them away from BSD into the void of System V.

    Disclaimer: Your mileage may vary. May cause increased bandwidth charges. Offer not valid in Lichtenstein on odd days of even months during leap years.

  • The more they make Solaris like Linux, the easier it will be for people to move off Solaris onto Linux as the environment fill be more familiar and the skills barrier lower. So Sun are taking a bit of a gamble.

  • by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @03:02AM (#19063733) Homepage Journal
    "As we make Solaris more familiar to Linux users, we don't [want to] lose what makes it more compelling and competitive."

    If Solaris was compelling and competitive, they wouldn't be trying to make it more like Linux.

    Solaris is something that we use as a legacy OS where I work. We have well over 700 Linux systems in the school of engineering. At last count we had maybe 35 systems running Solaris still lingering here and there in places where they either cannot be replaced or there is no economy in doing so. There has not been a NEW installation of Solaris deployed in at least two years. We've also got five Tru64 systems, two HP-UX systems, three Irix systems, and I think 4 VMS systems that a dedicated die-hard won't allow to expire.

    The bottom line is that the unix wars are over, Linux has won, and whatever contender eventually does take the crown from it will NOT be one of the has-eens of the past.

    I'm long past caring what Sun does or does not do with Solaris for the same reason that I don't care what E-com does with OS/2. Both OS's may or may not be configured with fancy new features in the future, but it doesn't matter because they've already lost.

    Game over dude, and no you don't get your quarter back.

  • by oglueck ( 235089 )
    Uh... so they're making Solaris GPL, to be able to use Linux code :-) how cool!
  • May be we all need to take note of this blog entry by Jeff Bonwick. _inside []

    In short Sun is feeling the competition from the Open Source Linux. And Jeff's blog entry shows that pretty well

    I don't know much about Sun but certainly they are not very happy with the way Linux is eating up Sun's share of servers.

    At this juncture such an announcement does not come to me as a surprise.


  • by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @04:11AM (#19064075) Journal

    Sun wants to embrace some Linux elements so "we make Solaris a better Linux than Linux," said Ian Murdock, Sun's chief operating systems officer, quoting Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, whose latest start-up, Ning, uses Solaris.
    Andreessen said that about Solaris? Or is Ian Murdock paraphrasing Andreessen, rather than quoting him? I could be totally wrong on this, but I imagine Andreessen said something along the lines of "we make Ning a better MySpace than MySpace".

    At any rate, it's a very awkwardly constructed and confusing sentence, and if I was some kind of grammar Nazi, I'd fucking parse the author's ass.
  • by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2@earthsho[ ] ['d.c' in gap]> on Thursday May 10, 2007 @08:46AM (#19065673)
    And so, the wheel turns full circle. As summer fades into autumn, then winter gives way to spring and summer returns again; so doth GNU depart from Unix, only to return again to Unix.

    The GNU project was originally meant to be an alternative to the closed-source Unix implementations of the day. Like a heroin dealer relying on the twin pillars of illegality and addictive potential, closed-source Unix vendors had little incentive to improve their products; they just had to be different enough from the competition that you couldn't switch easily.

    It really took for Linux to come on the scene to get GNU into a usable state; the BSD kernel (which had been favoured by the GNU developers prior to the advent Linux) already came with well-matched userland tools. And you've got to be serious about something to buy a whole car that already works just to rip out the engine and use it in a different chassis that looks identical to the first one from a distance. The GNU/Linux combination sparked interest in GNU. In turn, the BSDs diversified; today FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD all have their own respective market niches.

    Closed-source Unix continues to stagnate and ultimately will grow irrelevant. The elephant in the room is that neither hardware nor software make up the bulk of the intrinsic value of a computer system; that value comes mainly from users' saved data.

    Open Source pretty much forces you to implement Open Standards for saved files, which leads to transparent interoperability between programs that do the same sort of thing. In the end, AbiWord on GNU/Linux, on Solaris and KWord on FreeBSD will all be able to open the same documents. The brand of tools used to shape the data is becoming less important than the result of using them. That's already how it is in other industries. After all, who ever asked what brand of cooking equipment a restaurant uses, or what make of tools a cabinet maker uses? The important thing is that chopping food with one make of knife doesn't block you from cooking it in a different manufacturer's pans, and rough-cutting a piece of wood with one make of power saw doesn't prevent you finishing it with a different manufacturer's chisel. Using one OS and application stack on your computer shouldn't preclude you from working with data manipulated using a different OS and stack. That's already the way it's heading, slowly but surely.

People who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn't.