back to article Linux and Solaris face off

Earlier this year, we asked our readers why people thinking of Linux aren't also thinking of OpenSolaris (or vice versa), now that both are pukka OSS operating systems. Well, one reason that people might choose to miss out on OpenSolaris is because we're (in general) a conservative lot – once bitten, twice shy – and a lot of …


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  1. Greg Nelson

    Luser experience

    Over the past 18 months I've been building and playing with amd64 boxes. I've installed OpenBSD, Free BSD, FC4&5, Ubuntu, Suse, Scientific Linux and SolarisX86. Except for a dualcore gaming-multimedia box I can't see going with Windows on a multicore platform with their current licensing restrictions.

    Generally there's been only one overriding rule of thumb ruling my various installs. That rule is simply if the distro can't identify my nic and have me connected to the net where I can research and fix other install problems then, IMHO, the install failed. Solaris consistently failed in not being able to recognize various nics ( some where onboard and others came from my collection from years past ). I like Solaris more than Linux but, as your article noted, Sun needs to work on drivers.

    Linux was all over the place. An install from one distro might go off flawlessly then an update would bork the system. With Ubuntu one edition worked well the next needed endless hours just to install. Suse ( 10.2 ) is working well.

    *BSD is almost man's best friend. It's stalwart and faithful; it's just not very friendly.

    No matter the OS, unless the box is dedicated and strictly controlled, then the way to go is to pay for support. Solaris, once the resources have been spent and the drivers are available, will probably be well worth $100 bucks a year.

    just my luser change

  2. Bob Bramwell

    I'm a believer

    I have been a home Solaris (SPARC) user since about 1993 when used Sparc 1's became available at a reasonable price. Linux was barely on the radar then. Over the years I have used many different Linux systems, none of which (especially Gentoo!) have convinced me to switch allegiance. The only two big wins I see with Linux are the increased range of available end-user software and hardware support, and the fact that it runs on cheap machines. I certainly wish Gnome and related GUI programs were better supported on Solaris but I can live with what is available. Solaris really is a very solid system, and in these uncertain days of Windows for Warships I am a big fan of reliable operating systems.

    While Linux has given the open source movement a huge boost I lament the deterioration in portability of a lot of the software. Perhaps OpenSolaris will help to change that. I look forward to it with anticipation!

  3. Peter Bennett

    IBM JRE on Solaris

    We run IBM WebSphere on Solaris, and as of WebSphere version 6 (JVM 1.4.2) - IBM ships an IBM JVM with WebSphere.

  4. 4.1.3_U1

    Time will tell

    Solaris hasn't been open that long; I think it's too early to say that opensolaris isn't a viable platform.

    Personally, I'm not running Solaris on any x86 platforms at the moment, linux on the desktop mostly (windows only features on the work laptop), Solaris only on Sparc.

    Let's wait and see.

  5. Sean Nevin

    Developer and User

    I've personally used Slackware since about 1998 (read: Windows 98) and had to face a pretty steep learning curve back then. I had never seen linux before, and it was tough going for a while, but I refused to use Windows for my professional work ever agin so stuck with it. A few months ago, I downloaded OpenSolaris for x86 and AMD64 and found them pretty easy to install and use. Granted my experience with Slackware would probably give me a different idea of what "difficult" means than some people, but overall I think that Sun is doing a good thing with Solaris, and I look forward to using it more in the future.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Development vs. Production

    I think that people are confused about the OS requirements of development, versus those of production. Sure, on your development machine you need support for your $20 ethernet card, and you need a functional desktop interface. Linux has this now, Solaris doesn't. But if you're trying to build a NAS, or get a database to perform rock solid, or squeeze performance out of Apache, there is absolutely no contest. Solaris wins every time. When you spend half of your time pushing OS's to the limit, you find out that Linux is brittle, and Solaris is (comparatively) not. Once the Nexenta people, or Ian Murdock at Sun, or whomever, make Solaris look cosmetically like Linux, people will finally be able to compare real OS features. Well-documented, disgustingly stable OS, anyone?

  7. Tom

    Solaris debugging tools

    He concludes: "There's not much Solaris offers us for development above Linux (I can't actually think of anything we would care about)

    Dtrace. If you care about performance, you should look at it.

    FreeBSD has ported it. MacOSX 10.5 will have it. Linux is trying to clone it with SystemTap.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a habit

    On Solaris:

    Well, as 4.1.3_U1 (I like his name) said: "Solaris is good for Sparc machines" and I have one in my workplace. The first one I got in 1990 and the last one in 2005.

    Until Solaris 10, Solaris supports my Unix's habits very well, and I installed it on my home PC too. I did it just for compatibility between my workplace and my desktop's environment at home. Later on, I gave up keeping it as my desktop system. Do you have any question why? Just, try to compile some open source on Solaris and you'll have the answer. So, if you don't want to waste your time for fights with Solaris include headers, then you'll have only several options to get precompiled applications on the Internet or from Solaris Companion Media. In the volume, it's just a fraction that Linux or FreeBSD supports. In case you really need an application, you'll invest your time to port an application in Solaris and it is doable (for me it was the source navigator from RHat).

    On the other hand, you can find Solaris is very robust as the core system for your home infrastructure, e.g. if you need NAS (NFS+SMB). It is very good and very easy to manage your storage and access on it.

    On Linux:

    Linux is not my "native" system, but it is the great alternative for Windows as a desktop system. See? my point is - nobody seriously compares Solaris and Windows, so why we do Solaris vs. Linux? Linux builds linux-user-population more then 15 years and this is a global process. It is not just the system performance or some development tool or application. It is the end user culture and the end user expectations from the operating system on your desktop and it is the same for windows-user-population.

    On the topic:

    The culture and habits are things from the same domain. Thus, it does not really matter which operating system is better. What does matter - which one is convenient for you, for your habits or better for your culture (not necessary for the softwaredevelopmentone)

  9. Ramon Casha

    Linux does all I need

    The reason I'm using Linux and have not - as yet - switched to Solaris is that I haven't heard of anything in Solaris that Linux doesn't provide. I'm pretty sure that there are many differences, and many ways in which Solaris is better than Linux, just as there are ways in which Linux is better than Solaris. However I haven't seen anything that made me say "Wow, that is something I absolutely must have". Why should I take the trouble to change from a Gnome-based Unix-like operating system (Linux) to a Gnome-based Unix-like operating system (Solaris)? Different backdrop?

  10. Henry Thoreau

    Article from Dreamland

    I would like to say that the opinions of the people in that article really don't mean much. And the basis of the article, that Sun and Linux are competing in any way, is a joke.

    Linux has already won. Oracle Enterprise Linux(RAC). That is the beast that all others aspire to be. And it's done. Solaris is gone. Their proprietary hardware at 30K a pop is gone. There is nothing to think about.

    Sun is consolidating all of their hardware in Nevada. Not saying where exactly, because I don't like kicking a horse when it's dead. They are also laying off people right and left. They took a 1.6 Billion dollar death kiss from Microsoft. They are no friend of open source anything- don't BS yourself.

    Linux people know and remember this. And linux people run your IT shops. Because linux people know WTF is going on in IT. Solaris is/was a closed who the hell knows OS and architecture. Their new found balls are found too late. Sun bit the hand that fed it. And the memory of Linux is eternal because unlike it's proprietary cousin, it's history can't be bought off and erased from the internet.

    Companies that are successful run Linux. Companies that are running applications that cannot adapt because the programmers are too stupid understand C/C++ run Solaris. And they just don't have a choice then, so there's no discussion. They either keep paying out the ass or that app dies. Superior or not doesn't matter when the playing field isn't even. When the playing field is even, linux wins every time.

    Linux is as stable as Solaris if you know WTF you are doing. If you have some guy off the street that calls himself a sysadmin while he's in College, no- it doesn't work that way. Linux has weaknesses, and so does Solaris. But Linux has many many MANY more strengths than Solaris.

    And in the end, it's what Bill Gates figured out. It doesn't matter if that one trick pony POS can run one app for 1 million years. What matters is if can run whatever you want, on whatever you want, and if it can be gotten now.

    And one more point. Don't confuse Sun custom compiled for Solaris Java with stability. They fk'd everyone else, as IBM learned. That's why it's stable on Solaris. You turkeys just don't get it. Sun cut their own head off. Why you aren't seeing it rolling is because you either A) Don't do anything with Sun B) Are a developer that reads press releases C) Are not involved enough in IT to know.

    I'm glad the Carrion removed their Sun ad from the front page. Guess some opinions die harder than kickbacks.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Powered by the penguin

    Dear Henry Thoreau,

    We use RAC on RH linux and it is horrible, horrible. Is there any FS worst than OCFS/OCFS2? (voting disks cannot run on ASM, we now spent more $’s for GFS) For some reason there are tons of “smart” Oracle RAC people that say: “Why don’t you use ASM?” So I feel obligated to add this comment.

    Another thing RAC can only bind to a physical interface why not a virtual interface??????? So that you have the option yo use 2 switches.

    1. Linux is terrible compared to Solaris.

    2. Running Oracle on RedHat is a nightmare, not all the kernel levels are “certified” and once they are, there are 75 newer kernel revisions out already with no option to update to a supported one. As soon as a new one is released the older one disappears from the up2date site. (so much for easy patching!!)

    3. We opened a support call for a certified LINUX engineer to perform an update (after Oracle support left the builing)... oops no more powerpath. That resolved they found out the HP proliant support pack was no longer functional and that it had to be reinstalled since it compiles during the install, well the kenrel is now different and the modules had to be recompiled. Who wants this much work? Track 10 different software packages to see if you can perform an update.

    4. Then they updated to AS 4 U3 all is good, but only once they needed to do a test system refresh they found out that the relink of Oracle executables no longer worked, unable to refresh an instance, so off they go again, 7 hours later the test system is reinstalled with AS 4 GA release and all works fine.

    5. Oracle applications just stopped. Turns out that even if you use ext3 you still run into the 2GB file cap if your software is not compiled with the latest lib info (this is up to Oracle) a log file grew to 2GB.... Lame! (was not the listener.log in this case)

    This also bit our Cisco MARS devices:


    Problem Description

    The CS-MARS uses the listener.log file for logging purposes. Once this file reaches the operating system

    limit of 2 GB, the listener stops working.


    As Cisco puts it "operating system limit"

    we have now spent more money to switch to RH, we even increased in staff also made use of Oracle Ondemand, they got kicked out. Now the RH systems are running ok, but most of them are still on GA release of AS 4 and the support team found that they have two options, 1 update tons of 3rd party drivers and modules after a kenrel update or 2, just don’t update.

    Oracle ondemand recommended, when we started with the RH migration, RH ES3, then they made the crazy call to add more memory, guess what the kernel for ES3 do not support more than 8 GB of memory. So before this migration officially even started we had migrate again to AS 4. (this was just one of the systems so I will let it slide.) (Solaris = one kernel)

    Meanwhile it is business as usual on the Solaris nodes.

    I guess it is cool to say, hey we use LINIX…. Lalalala….

    Linux (no virtualization options… well in RHEL 5, but not certified for Oracle and no live upgrade. The resource scheduling and resource management is terrible compared to solaris, role based access sucks compared Sol.

    We migrated to Linux… (we are so cool!) I wonder where we can find the "Powered by the penguin" stickers for our servers

    2x the nodes, 4x the admin tasks, 2x backup licenses and currently 4 x the downtime. (not sure why they opted to turn all our DB servers into RAC, not like it helped single nodes running Solaris still require less downtime.

    I guess if Linux is your passion and you like spending many hours with it every week, then it’s for you. Someone like me that only wants to work 40 hours a week, Solaris is the way to go. I have no desire to install any system at home and play around with the latest kernel etc.

    One vendor for hardware, OS and driver support proved ease of administration. Thank you SUN for ensuing that my admin years are spent on the functional side of applications and not on reading support pages from 3 to 5 different vendors to ensure a supported configuration is met before conducting a kernel update.

    Linux by kids for kids.


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