Somebody Buy Sun a Vowel

by Derek Vadala

Related link:

Don Marti just drew my attention to this article from last week's Economist in which Jonathon Schwartz (Sun's new software strategy overlord) discusses why I want to run Solaris on Intel hardware.

Is Sun ever going to figure it out?

People who have to administer servers like to run Linux (compared with something like Solaris) because it's easy to get help, easy to find task-specific tools that work without much tweaking, and easy to quickly install a reasonably secure system with a sensible (useful) software map.

There's also the whole free software thing, but if Schwartz would like to pretend that's a non-issue for his customers, I won't argue the point. It's not that important (at least to me) in the Sun/Solaris versus Linux debate.

You see, as a system administrator I don't care about running Linux on cheap Intel-based PCs from Sun Microsystems. I want to run Linux on Sun's enterprise level systems. I want Sun to support that. I want Sun to help out with the development effort, creating custom distributions that are optimized for its hardware as necessary. I want Sun to help make the Linux kernel suited for use on these systems, even if it means having to fork the kernel to keep things sane on systems with more than four processors. I want hardware on which I can run Linux that is quality, reliable, and well supported. I want Sun to do a better job, because frankly I've been unimpressed since around 1997.

What I don't want is more crappy hardware and another (extremely annoying) flavor of Unix to deal with.

Good luck. Give my regards to Scott.

Think I'm an idiot?


2003-05-27 19:49:20
Linux still has a way to go
First, let me state I've had to administer, train and support on Windows NT since 3.5, Linux before the 1.0 kernel and Solaris since 2.4. And I've been involved with more open-source projects than most people even use.

And the fact is that all 3 OS have major issues to be dealt with. Linux's best feature is that you get a very fast, lower starting cost and relatively stable OS on commodity hardware but in turn you have a billion packages out there, hit & miss documentation (by far more miss than hit in large part because the pieces change too fast) & good community support if you're not a complete newbie & are dealing with something relatively common.

Windows is by far the easiest to get setup for many tasks, but requires a lot more skill than either Solaris or Linux to get it secure & 24/7 reliable.

Solaris best feature is that it's stable and the OS you install on a 1 CPU Ultra-10 is the same you install on a 64 K machine. No funky extra libraries or having to buy "Enterprise" version from some vendor.

Frankly I hope Solaris on Intel does catch on because the more good options we have on Intel beyond Windows is good for the overall world. Also if Solaris for Intel is the same as Solaris as Sparc means more job opportunties for out of work sys admins.

Derek Vadala
2003-05-28 07:50:52
Linux still has a way to go
I guess we are simply just in disagreement.

I haven't found the documentation on Linux to be hit or miss in many years now. There's certainly better documenation than there is for Solaris, in my opinion.

And let's face it, if you are comparing Linux and Solaris, you are really talking about the kernel and the init process. Nearly all of the "billion packages" you mention are also a problem for Solaris administrators too. They're not really "Linux", though people often group all open source into the Linux umbrella. The fact is most people run the same few packages on Linux: Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python. Moving outside of that commmon set of software presents issues on any operating system. I think that these packages and less widespread ones tend to work better on Linux since many of them are devleoped in Linux environments.

You are correct about community support to some degree. If you are a newbie and you ask question on the LKML, you are probably in for some derision, but there are hundreds of other more focused, and more friendly, mailing lists.

There's not much point in arguing the merits of Windows and its ease of use. The more difficult tasks in Windows are difficult because Microsoft deliberately leaves essential features and tasks undocumented in an effort to elevate the value of its training and certification programs.

Finally, the Solaris you install on single CPU Ultra-10 systems is the same in the sense that it's the same CD, but different kernels and drivers get installed onto different hardware.