back to article Oracle starts to lose patience with Solaris holdouts

Oracle appears to be losing patience with Solaris users who won’t adopt the newest 11.4 release of the OS. The database giant this month notified folks that as of January 2021 "premier support" for version 11.3 will end. Oracle’s next tier of support for that build of the operating system is “extended support,” which Oracle’s …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A warning!

    Novel lost patience with it's customer base for not updating the severs. The customers sited every time an upgrade arrived carnage ensued. Subsequently Novel lost business to other sectors and Redhat saved their ass.

    The moral of this is don't screw with your customer base. You will regret it.

    1. james_smith

      Re: A warning!

      This is Oracle - screwing with their customer base is standard operating procedure. Their customers must be masochists though, as they seem to like it.

      1. oiseau Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: A warning!

        ... screwing with their customer base is standard operating procedure.

        Indeed ...

        Something that those who sank good money into Sun Microsystem's Ultra x86-64 based workstations painfully learned and still remember.

        O.

      2. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: A warning!

        I've seen this so often in enterprise software. Some higher up will pay for a site licence for something like Lotus Notes and despite it being a garbage product that actively harms productivity, they'll stick with it because they've already paid a million to use it and apparently that sunken cost is reason to keep suffering under it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A warning!

          Isn't that the standard Microsoft approach?

        2. Ken 16

          Re: A warning!

          Well, usually the Notes license is bundled with an Enterprise license so there's no licensing cost benefits in removing it and the effort involved is so high that post apocalyptic cockroaches will find Domino servers still running beneath the rubble.

        3. james_smith

          Re: A warning!

          Sounds like how a place I worked at ended up with a closed source version control system. We (the UK in house dev team) had been happily using Git, with CI and various reporting built around it. Then the Swiss management ordered us to use AccuRev, as recommended by some consultancy. Thing was unusable (Google "AccuRev sucks" for a Stack Overflow thread that captures just how awful it is). We ended up surreptitiously running Git for day to day work and only committing to an AccuRev repo once work was complete. As for our CI and reporting? AccuRev didn't support any. Nor did it support importing history from any existing version control system.

      3. Smartypantz

        Re: A warning!

        Unfortunately their prime customers is the worlds tax payers, I.e you and me. No private enterprise would dream of touching that toxic spaghetti monster! The governments of the world on the other hand is so bribe-entrenched and ignorant that its easier to just keep bleeding that Oracle red..

    2. magpie67

      Re: A warning!

      Might be wrong, but didn't SUSE borg Novell?

      1. hoola Silver badge

        Re: A warning!

        And Microfocus......

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: A warning!

          No.

          First, it's "Micro Focus". Two words.

          Novell bought SUSE (2003). The Attachmate Group bought Novell (2011). TAG merged with Micro Focus, with the latter retaining control of the combined entity (2014). Micro Focus spun SUSE off last year.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Left for Red Hat when Oracle bought Sun

    Red Hat on a virtual farm with Intel hardware has been performing nicely. It was worth the jump I believe, to be away from Oracle. I am a fan of Solaris and Sun's contributions to the world, including ZFS which I hold dear. But in Oracle's hands... *shudders*

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Left for Red Hat when Oracle bought Sun

      But Oracle Linux is just repackaged RedHat

      1. Steve K Silver badge

        Re: Left for Red Hat when Oracle bought Sun

        Ah, but it’s unbreakable too

    2. The Pi Man

      Re: Left for Red Hat when Oracle bought Sun

      But ZFS is just a poor imitation of AdvFS...

      1. joma0711

        Re: Left for Red Hat when Oracle bought Sun

        Not just me who still remembers advfs fondly then :)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Left for Red Hat when Oracle bought Sun

        But ZFS is just a poor imitation of AdvFS...

        Well, apart from being architecturally completely different. Similar management viewpoint (multi-device with pools and filesets) but AdvFS is a fairly conventional journalling filesystem, very different under the covers from the ZFS copy-on-write model.

        1. rnturn

          Re: Left for Red Hat when Oracle bought Sun

          s/pools/domains/

    3. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Left for Red Hat when Oracle bought Sun

      RedHat on PPC LPARs doesn't work badly either ...

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Gimp

    Oracle ? Generous ?

    Reminds me of another generous man who said "I am changing the terms of the deal. Pray I don't change them again."

    Obvious icon is obvious.

  4. katrinab Silver badge
    Meh

    Why?

    What benefits does Solaris have over FreeBSD?

    1. Nate Amsden

      Re: Why?

      SPARC support for one.(article implies many customers running sparc on older than 2010 hardware that cannot run 11.4).

      https://www.freebsd.org/platforms/sparc.html

      "UltraSPARC is a Tier 2 architecture through FreeBSD 12.x. It is no longer supported in FreeBSD 13.0 and later"

      https://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/articles/committers-guide/archs.html

      "Tier 2 platforms are functional, but less mature FreeBSD platforms. They are not supported by the security officer, release engineering, and port management teams."

      Official support for Oracle server software for two.

      http://www.orafaq.com/wiki/FreeBSD

      "Oracle Corporation does not officially support the Oracle database or any other of their products on FreeBSD."

      At this point I'd wager the bulk of the Solaris installs out there are for running Oracle server software. If there was to be a migration it would likely be to Oracle linux.

      (Last time I touched Solaris was 2006)

      1. Steve Todd Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        Is 10 year old SPARC hardware worth hanging on to though? You would have thought that 10 years worth of development and improvements would have resulted in commodity X86 machines that outpace it with lower capital and operating costs.

        1. elip

          Re: Why?

          Oddly enough (or not), for certain targeted workloads, stuff (NFS ops, some crypto ops, etc.) on old Solaris machines is *still* 2-3x faster than on x86, that's both in Linux and Solaris/x86. Currently testing Solaris and Linux for a living, on machines ranging from 3-12 years old. I am guessing, this is mostly because nobody's actually cared to look that closely at some of the code from a perf standpoint. "It's good and fast enough".

        2. elip

          Re: Why?

          That's always been Sun's curse though ey? Too high quality, and no reason to update what works as a customer. These machines run forever, and when they do break, I get a stack of 10 year old machines off Ebay for less than 500 bucks.

          1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

            Re: Why?

            I just loved the engineering on their pizza boxes. They were superbly put together.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why?

            You can't just buy SPARC boxes off ebay and swap core parts these days - if your motherboard, memory riser, fan board or that sort of stuff breaks you need a support contract and an engineer on-site to make them talk to each other again after replacement, and that's kit that is 7-10 years old.

            Anon cos I'm in the middle of procuring replacements for our T4 servers before they fall off the support list for 11.4...

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why?

          You just wouldn't believe how long some people keep their old server hardware. I guess it's a case of "if it ain't broken, don't fix it".

          I was in some training with some HPE support people not long ago and someone mentioned they'd worked on some K series servers back in the day. The HPE guys were saying they know several customers still running them, They stopped making those box before Y2K and have to be years out of support.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why?

            I bought my Sun Ultra 60 (2 x 450 Mhz CPUs, 512 MB RAM, 18 GB drive, Creator 3D graphics that I don't use) in December of 2003 for US $350. By then the hardware was already 5 or 6 years old.

            It's still sitting here beside me, doing yeoman duty as a personal IMAP/SMTP mail server and (rarely-used) Web server.

            It's built like a tank and except for having to get replacement disks for it every few years, it's never had a problem. I even almost caught it on fire (don't ask) and it survived that. I'd say almost 17 years of solid, never-off use is pretty darn good.

            I'll probably retire it when I move a mini-ATX PC into place running Fedora, because the Ultra puts out a fair amount of BTUs. Good for winter but not so good for the other 9 months of the year.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Why?

              That's why I have been looking at AMD based systems. I don't have much space, but I need a machine with some poke and am not bothered if it's occasionally offline (so no need for resilient hardware). One of those new mini-PCs will do me nicely, probably for years, and in total silence.

            2. jbuk1
              Mushroom

              Re: Why?

              Why use a 2.5 watt ras pi when you can use an ancient clunker and heat the neighborhood.

              1. rnturn

                Re: Why?

                That's one of the big reasons I dumped a used Ultra60 years ago. Solaris use was already dwindling (as was the need for me to support it) so I couldn't justify the cost of running that space heater.

          2. dedmonst

            Re: Why?

            >I was in some training with some HPE support people not long ago and someone mentioned they'd

            >worked on some K series servers back in the day. The HPE guys were saying they know several

            >customers still running them, They stopped making those box before Y2K and have to be years out of

            >support.

            Not quite - the last generation of HP9000 K series systems was the K380/K580 - these were still sold until 2001! With regards to support they went onto mature product support (just break/fix with no firmware updates) in 2007, but HPE would still give you a support contract for these systems right up until the end of this year. Pretty much all HP9000 systems go completely end of support at the end of 2020.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why?

      The 3rd party apps we run are certified against Solaris, not against FreeBSD.

    3. Dedobot

      Re: Why?

      First to come in my mind - SMB 3.1.x server on pair at least with that in win2016. I think with the latest SRUs they up-ed it to the Win2019's version but can be wrong.

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Lifetime Support Policy"

    Getting rid of the difficult bit in the title. Sir Humphrey would applaud.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Life time guarantee...

      ... with every bullet proof vest.

  6. magpie67

    Ahh, as I post this, I wear my Sun Microsystems T-Shirt ( merch of course! ), Solaris had its uses, its pitfalls and its wonders. I groaned when Oracle took over :{. Always liked the look of confusion on new employee's when you took the crash cart to a Sun server and showed them how to deal with a V880 :}

  7. rich_a

    Oracle Solaris

    Anyone else feel like they want to vomit reading the phrase "Oracle Solaris"?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Oracle Solaris

      Or indeed "Oracle (any word here)".

    2. Friendly Neighbourhood Coder Dan

      Re: Oracle Solaris

      They could buy a new TLD, so to own solaris.vom?

  8. Pete 2 Silver badge

    We had an insurance policy like that ...

    ... it gave the illusion of "cover", until you tried to make a claim.

    > “sustaining support” will continue for as long as you keep paying Big Red license fees, but does not include “new updates, fixes, security alerts, data fixes, and critical patch updates.”

    So, you you keep paying Oracle for "support" and you get what, exactly? Apart from a receipt.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We had an insurance policy like that ...

      A visit from the audit team?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spend your money now, says Larry!!

    Sun kit is of very high quality and lasts a very long time. Larry finds it infuriating when customers do not upgrade their h/w regularly. (I really, really do not want to move to Intel stuff.)

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Spend your money now, says Larry!!

      "Sun kit is of very high quality and lasts a very long time."

      Quite so.

      My daily driver is probably part of one of the last batches of Ultra24's shipped out.

      Even today, there are quite a few projects out on the web based on the Ultra24 box with new innards.

      Really excellent hardware design, pity the MB's crap BIOS.

      When it came out in late 2007, it was far ahead of anything else available workstation-wise.

      O.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spend your money now, says Larry!!

      Going to vote you down there. Latest Oracle “Sun” kit is shit compared to what Sun used to produce and no better than x86 commodity hardware.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spend your money now, says Larry!!

      It might last a long time , but kit that is a minimum of 10 years old is going to be of little use to most organisations other than as a dev box, glorified X terminal (if it's a workstation ) or a file server. It certainly wont be doing any heavy lifting in the data centre.

      1. elip

        Re: Spend your money now, says Larry!!

        Eighteen years later, ours still run our core business, which is engineering hardware. We have around 28K employees to give some context. In all of the most critical functions of our infrastructure, you might even find an Ultra10.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Spend your money now, says Larry!!

          Well good luck maintaning those critical functions when that hardware expires because you won't be getting any spares. Your CTO needs to take a good long look in the mirror if he's betting the company on non replacable kit that might die at any point.

          1. elip

            Re: Spend your money now, says Larry!!

            That's the point though. This hardware is way past 'expired', but it keeps on keeping on. We have a whole storage/IDF closet full of spare systems, all for less than 3-4K total. How much for a new Proliant 360 these days??

          2. elip

            Re: Spend your money now, says Larry!!

            To add more context. Our company's been around almost 100 years. Not claiming to be perfect, but I have a feeling we'll survive another 100 with our stingy methodology. We may be running things in a way that the current generation doesn't agree with ("not best practices" they say), but we haven't laid off groups of people since 2004. So....it is what it is.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Spend your money now, says Larry!!

        It certainly wont be doing any heavy lifting in the data centre.

        No, and there won't be any 40-year-old IBM kit in data centres either, and certainly nothing running COBOL.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Spend your money now, says Larry!!

          26 years, but yes, it still is

          a) more than adequate

          b) citical

          c) working flawlessly.

          These servers (and the pair we bought for spare parts ten years ago) have paid themselves dozens of times. AIX 433ML11 is more than docile enough.

          Training a young(er) one at the moment, so I may retire in peace.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Spend your money now, says Larry!!

          I've worked in a lot of banking IT depts - there is no 40 year old kit anywhere and any COBOL will be these days probably be running on *nix blades.

          1. seven of five Silver badge

            Re: Spend your money now, says Larry!!

            Not in a bank. Search for companies which have to earn their own money.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Spend your money now, says Larry!!

              You're talking rubbish I'm afraid. There are no companies in the UK that value their business who are running 40 year old machines except perhaps the ventilation equipment. I know its nice to have a mental image of well built 70s kit struggling on while other machines come and go but the reality is that A) it would be impossible to maintain and get spares for and B) you need a bit more than the power of a pocket calculator to run any business larger than a corner shop.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Spend your money now, says Larry!!

                TfL (Transport for London, or more specifically London Underground) are still running DEC hardware, albeit some with Compaq and HP stickers on top of the Digital ones. Not virtualised, since rightly or wrongly SIMH isn't considered a suitable alternative.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But how will this work with my aging Sun SPARC E450 ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Stick with Solaris 10, nothing wrong with it on that box.

  11. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I am not familiar with SPARC hardware, what changed in 2010 which means that Oracle can't support Solaris 11.4 on this older hardware. I couldn't see anything on the Wikipedia article that mentioned any big hardware changes in 2010? Or is it forced obsolescence to make people upgrade

    1. elip

      Supposed CPU architecture change, but doubtful.

  12. Maelstorm Bronze badge
    Devil

    The world isn't big enough...

    Oracle is trying to be like Apple by forcing upgrades down everyone's throat, and then taking out the backwards compatibility so people are force to pay for software upgrades too. Sorry Larry, but the world is not big enough for one Apple let alone two. And Oracle's target audience, the enterprise, are a very discerning bunch who will move to new hardware and software when they are damn ready too. They aren't like the consumers who Apple caters to. You push enterprise customers too much, they will switch platforms.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The world isn't big enough...

      People still running Solaris 15 years after it was obsolete have no clue what they are doing. I'm guessing most of these boxes aren't even plugged in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The world isn't big enough...

        And people making comments such as this have no clue about the real world where Solaris is very much still a thing.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Steady on!

    We haven’t made the jump from Solaris 10 to Solaris 11 yet, let alone getting to 11.4!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Steady on!

      And gcc has drunk the koolaid. Gcc 10+ no longer supports Solaris 10/sparc.

  14. GoldCoaster

    Vale Solaris

    I'm sure all 7 remaining Solaris customers will be devastated.

    ex-Sunnie.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vale Solaris

      Despite Oracle's best efforts, sales of SPARC and Solaris have actually been increasing recently. The shine is wearing off cloud.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vale Solaris

      Solaris users are the new Amiga users. Well by "new" I mean Solaris only really outlived Amiga by 7 years or so, and you can still play games on Amiga that aren't on other platforms...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does Larry need a new sailboat?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The abandoned amusement park

    Part of the problem is that Oracle has fired most of the engineers, so it's hard for them to provide much support. They have kept the billing, legal and license audit teams.

    Good luck getting any real support from Romania or wherever the n00bs are.

  17. IGnatius T Foobar !

    Thank you Sun.

    Thank you, Sun Microsystems. You made excellent hardware and software.

    But today ... the sad truth is that SPARC and Solaris are legacy platforms. Linux has become the fabric of standard computing. Oracle has not done themselves any favors by continuing the war against their own customers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thank you Sun.

      Oracle has been trying to kill SPARC and Solaris since they bought Sun, it's the customers who won't let it go.

    2. elip

      Re: Thank you Sun.

      "Linux has become the fabric of standard computing."

      ^^ I'm curious what the cost of this currently is and has been, and would love to see an attempt at quantifying it all. Is it cheaper in the grand scheme of things to pay for overengineered, overpriced SPARC systems, or is it cheaper spending lots of engineer time (and in turn, money) battling highly dubiously tested (or not tested at all) Linux distribution code? I've managed Solaris and various Linux distros over 20 years+ now, and as poor as *some* Solaris efforts have been at times, the general stability has been only second to OpenBSD. Linux kernel 2.4 was stellar. 2.6 started showing some lack of QA, though at great perf boost, so people lived with it. These days, I don't see thorough testing from the Linux community. I could be wrong, as I live in the enterprise, large server + large storage space.

      1. J27 Silver badge

        Re: Thank you Sun.

        There are linux distributions, with support, designed and tested for corporate environments, such as Red Hat Corporate Linux. And you don't run into the issues you get from running a niche OS like having to compile everything yourself or following how-tos designed for a different OS. Supporting Solaris gets more diffcult yearly as more and more companies move to Linux.

  18. J27 Silver badge

    Have any pre-2010 SPARC machines? I gues they turn into pumpkins.

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      Have any pre-2010 SPARC machines? I gues they turn into pumpkins.

      Lots. Many of them SBus. Too many according to SWMBO. Why yes, of course they all still run perfectly fine. No pumpkins, but they have turned many x86 boxes green with envy as they just keep running unlike the more unreliable x86.

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