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NYT Ponders the Future of Solaris In a Linux/Windows World

timothy posted about 6 years ago | from the year-of-the-solaris-desktop dept.

Unix 340

JerkBoB links to a story at the New York Times about the future prospects of Sun's Solaris, excerpting: "Linux is enjoying growth, with a contingent of devotees too large to be called a cult following at this point. Solaris, meanwhile, has thrived as a longstanding, primary Unix platform geared to enterprises. But with Linux the object of all the buzz in the industry, can Sun's rival Solaris Unix OS hang on, or is it destined to be displaced by Linux altogether?"

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Of course (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160063)

The current solaris systems will only have issue with this if they actually need to be rebooted one day and the new admins notice its not linux.

Re:Of course (3, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 6 years ago | (#25160197)

You say Solaris, I say SunOS, let's call the whole thing old. ;-)

Seriously, if you can't figure one out, you don't know the other very well.

Or else... (3, Funny)

mangu (126918) | about 6 years ago | (#25160249)

... if they actually need to be rebooted one day and the new admins notice its not linux

...or if a new application is required and the admins can't find the apt repository...

Re:Or else... (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | about 6 years ago | (#25160507)

That was the main reason why I canned OpenSolaris after trying it out.

It runs Gnome but that was the only similarity to more user-friendly *Nixes such as ubuntu. No apt-get or many other Joe User tools that make running desktop linux a breeze.

And what's up with "jack" as the default username?

Re:Of course (4, Insightful)

dnoyeb (547705) | about 6 years ago | (#25160331)

Thats a technical reason. In the US though, its about shareholder perception. If the CEO is trying to do big things and keeps talking in "old" terms, he will quickly be accused of being out of touch with reality.

Like the post said, Linux is generating the buzz. The money follows the buzz even if it does not make sense.

Re:Of course (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160825)

The money follows the buzz even if it does not make sense.

I'm intrigued by your philosophy on economics. I'll stuff a bee's nest up my butt and see if people start throwing coins into my guitar case.

Re:Of course (1, Troll)

Francis85 (875901) | about 6 years ago | (#25160881)

I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:AIX Of course (2, Informative)

bonkeydcow (1186443) | about 6 years ago | (#25160681)

No problem. Just run AIX. In our environment we run all 3 OSes, Solaris, AIX, Linux and windows ( I don't count that one).

Linux is in no way encroaching on the other two.

Is Solaris (1)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | about 6 years ago | (#25160811)

Is Solaris one of those Unix OS's that has the "lp0 on fire" [wikipedia.org] error still in its code, just in case it is necessary?

I was thinking about trying it out, but I demand five star safety ratings in all of my operating systems. Fire alarms are a must of course :).

Nahh.. its not going anywhere. (4, Insightful)

k1e0x (1040314) | about 6 years ago | (#25160071)

Solaris is a great big iron OS. I don't think it will be disappearing anytime soon.

"Literally" I Do Not Think That Word Means... (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 6 years ago | (#25160231)

...what you think it does.

"That's literally like noticing the view from a third-story building as it burns to the ground."

Virtualization makes Solaris less relevant (5, Insightful)

compumike (454538) | about 6 years ago | (#25160099)

The purpose of the operating system is to act between the hardware, system abstractions, and the algorithms. But now that virtualization is taking over, the hardware responsibility of OSes is being minimized -- or centralized. Therefore, the advantages of one hardware platform can be more easily decoupled from those of an OS.

In my opinion, Sun was always known for rock-solid hardware, and this move toward hardware-agnostic computing means that Solaris gets just a bit less relevant today. Especially since cost is still a factor, and the hardware-specific advantages are disappearing...

--
Hey code monkey... learn electronics! Powerful microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

Re:Virtualization makes Solaris less relevant (3, Interesting)

certain death (947081) | about 6 years ago | (#25160415)

How is cost an issue, when you can get Solaris for the same price as Linux? FREE! Both offer paid support, both cost approx. the same.

Re:Virtualization makes Solaris less relevant (5, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | about 6 years ago | (#25160625)

The purpose of the operating system is to act between the hardware, system abstractions, and the algorithms. But now that virtualization is taking over, the hardware responsibility of OSes is being minimized -- or centralized. Therefore, the advantages of one hardware platform can be more easily decoupled from those of an OS.

It's more important than ever, and Solaris delivers virtualization through Sun logical domains, hardware virtualization (zones), and the xVM hypervisor based on Xen (with Solaris dom0).

Now with Virtualization: if your physical machine fails, and your hypervisor cannot recover immediately from the error (without a reboot), you don't just have one server down -- you have many virtual machines disrupted.

Your Linux VMs that use ext3 may have some problems after that unclean death (filesystem corruption); whereas, your Solaris VMs backed by ZFS are less likely to have fatal problems, as filesystem backed by ZFS with redundancy 1 with no issues, as ZFS all but guarantees filesystem itself is consistent.

You can restart axed VMs on another server, perhaps: you have a shared storage environment, but this disruption costs something, and it is higher the more VMs you were running on that machine.

Also: there are application I/O-intensive workloads that do not virtualize well, such as high-load databases i.e. your 5 billion row Oracle DB.

Solaris is perfect for managing the hardware for these specialized applications that are not efficient to be run in a virtual environment.

ZFS may also be a major factor.

If you have shared filesystems -- you need SANs & NASes.

Do you use a $5 million NAS, or do you buy a couple high-end Sun servers, load them up with a direct-attach storage arrays, and share via NFS in order to provide a good bit of reasonably fast storage on the cheap? hmmm...

Think about it: Linux isn't really even a possibility for backing your servers' storage, you want 99.9999% uptime of your servers, right?

Systems based on Linux cannot generally guarantee uptimes like that (yet); although it is over time getting closer.

Your storage can't be efficiently shared by a VM (I/O in a virtual machine is notoriously slow, plus the CPU usage and available memory for caching is limited by other usage of the host).

Re:Virtualization makes Solaris less relevant (4, Informative)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | about 6 years ago | (#25160883)

just atended a seminar about solaris LDOMs at the office. with LDOMs (which only run on niagara T1 and T2 CPUS) you can assign a whole PCI bus to a single guest OS in such way that the guest has full control of that bus, which implies no performance penalty if that bus have a couple of HBAs to connect it to a storage/SAN.

the sun guy at the seminar (same instructor that ran the solaris 10 administration course I took last year) made it very clear that the kind of hardware backed virtualization provided by LDOMs is the second best for high I/O apps, losing only for hardware partitioning, and it's way ahead of the kind of full software virtualization provided by vmware, virtual pc or virtual box.

Re:Virtualization makes Solaris less relevant (2, Interesting)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 6 years ago | (#25160851)

It's kinda funny watching things go in circles. First it was hardware built to run one specific app. Someone said lets build something so we can run multiple apps on general purpose hardware. So the Operating system was born. Now we want to run multiple operating systems on even more general purpose hardware.

solaris is the new AIX (5, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | about 6 years ago | (#25160117)

it'll still be around because it's a good OS, worthy of being used.

it'll just be a niche product.

personally i think it's sad sun blew their chances with solaris, it's superior to linux in security and performace.

Re:solaris is the new AIX (1)

Shaman (1148) | about 6 years ago | (#25160213)

Easy to say. Not so easy to prove.

Re:solaris is the new AIX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160835)

Prove? LOL

SunOS was an enterprise grade UNIX before Linux hit 1.0. Linux and Windoze are the OSes that needs to prove something.

Re:solaris is the new AIX (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 6 years ago | (#25160893)

SunOS was an enterprise grade UNIX before Linux hit 1.0. Linux and Windoze are the OSes that needs to prove something.

Windows and Linux is currently used extensively more than SunOS and Solaris in the Enterprise. I think you need to reevaluate things.

Re:solaris is the new AIX (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | about 6 years ago | (#25160659)

it's superior to linux in security and performace.

You reckon Solaris is superior to linux in performace? I reckon these guys [google.com.au] really know performace.

Re:solaris is the new AIX (1)

dosius (230542) | about 6 years ago | (#25160823)

Indeed, the nickname "Slowlaris" is well deserved.

-uso.

Solaris 10 (5, Interesting)

Tsunayoshi (789351) | about 6 years ago | (#25160135)

If your only experience with Solaris is v8 or v9, you really need to check out Solaris 10. It is a complete night and day difference in ease of use and features. Add to that the volume of useful enterprise management software from Sun (the N1 stack, and now the new xVM stack) and you have an enterprise that is a dream to maintain.

I've been doing straight Solaris 10 admin for the last 2 years (linux for 4 years before that), and shortly will once again be taking a position that will be 99% linux. I will miss Solaris 10. I still love both OS's, but Solaris wins in my book at the moment.

Re:Solaris 10 (5, Insightful)

segfaultcoredump (226031) | about 6 years ago | (#25160433)

I agree.

If we were talking Solaris 8 or 9 vs linux, it would be no contest. Solaris 10 is another story.

In the current shop where I work, Solaris is the OS of first choice. We only run linux if we absolutely have to due to application compatibility issues. From a cost standpoint, they both run on the same server hardware (intel or amd), so there is no cost advantage there. The major one is that a RedHat support contract cost more than the equivalent one from Sun for Solaris (they are both free if you dont want support... sorta.... You can download solaris from sun for free and install it. You cant do the same with RedHat. That said, if you use kickstart you can get around the mandatory rhn registration that stops you dead if you dont have a valid support contract.)

  It just that with solaris we have the ability to load the box up with dozens of zones that are easy to manage compared to the alternatives on linux (yes, there are alternatives to solaris zones, and all of them involve unsupported kernel patches. ) We tend to run 20+ zones per dual proc box. Each zone gets its own env. We dont need them to differ too much from the main zone, so things like Xen are overkill. Chroot would be nice if we could also get better control over things like IP's, admin access, hostname resolution, etc. For what we want, Zones are absolutely perfect. zfs and Dtrace just add icing to the cake.

That said, this article read like a BMW sales rep's opinion of the newest Audi. If I want opinions of if solaris is dying, I'm not going to go and ask the head of the linux consortium which has a vested interestin seeing their prophecy come true.

  For a good time, go to the IDC site and read the comments. Most of them are ripping the author for the piss poor job he did since it reads like a linux marketing piece more than an actual news article.

Re:Solaris 10 (1)

seifried (12921) | about 6 years ago | (#25160897)

I love how you didn't even mention Sparc: "From a cost standpoint, they both run on the same server hardware (intel or amd), so there is no cost advantage there. " Lovely platform but yeah....

Re:Solaris 10 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160955)

I love Solaris too, but have you met CentOS?

Probably the wrong question. (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 years ago | (#25160151)

I'm not sure that asking "will solaris survive?" is the right question. Any server OS with decent legacy traction can hang on for ages even without exciting benefits, or even parity, compared to its competitors. Any OS can also be opened up, given away, and allowed to limp along for as long as anybody cares to play with it. Solaris is essentially certain not to die.

The real question is "how much of a premium will Solaris be able to command?" This is probably connected to the question of how much of a premium SPARC hardware can command. If Sun gives Solaris away, and doesn't charge more than any of the major linux vendors for support, then Solaris will do fine; but that isn't necessarily helpful to Sun. If Solaris can justify a premium(either upfront or for support) or can drive or be driven by purchase of fancy SPARC boxes, then the resulting market share may be about the same; but far more valuable. That seems like the more relevant question.

Ask any former VAX user! (1)

mangu (126918) | about 6 years ago | (#25160293)

Any server OS with decent legacy traction can hang on for ages even without exciting benefits, or even parity, compared to its competitors. Any OS can also be opened up, given away, and allowed to limp along for as long as anybody cares to play with it. VAX/VMS is essentially certain not to die.

I can't say I totally agree with your post.

Solaris and perception (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160869)

The real question is "how much of a premium will Solaris be able to command?" This is probably connected to the question of how much of a premium SPARC hardware can command.

Sun sells some (really nice) x86 kit. Solaris is certified and supported on HP hardware (though HP is not an official OEM). Dell has an OEM agreement with Sun, and so does IBM. Furthermore Solaris is being ported to IBM's mainframe systems, and it works just fine as a guest in VMware (and xVM, and work is being done with Xen).

A software support contract is cheaper for Solaris than it is for Red Hat.

The main issue is perception: Solaris is viewed as "old and tired", and Linux is viewed as new and exciting. I do not think this corresponds to any meaningful reality (and I've run DOS, DESQview, OS/2, Linux, BSD, Solaris, and OS X on my home machine since I began computing).

My perfect system would be the core of Solaris, the interface of OS X, and FreeBSD's ports tree. The development model of Linux (and BSD and GNU/FSF), and the freedom it gives you, is the most important thing that Linux has brought to the table, but I don't see anything inherent in the technology that Linux gives that makes it anything special.

How about some technical analysis (5, Insightful)

synthespian (563437) | about 6 years ago | (#25160161)

Tech shouldn't be about "gee, everybody's using it."
How about some hard, technical facts?
So many things in Solaris are more advanced than Linux...Sounds like a Linux PR piece...
For instance, you can count on general ABI breakage on Linux. They even take pride in it. That's not a system you can trust for the long haul. You can't trust your applications will remain compatible.
Linux is a mess, IMHO.

Re:How about some technical analysis (2, Informative)

Shaman (1148) | about 6 years ago | (#25160227)

Yet, I have been using it nearly exclusively for 10 years and watched it progress as a result of some of these policies. Very seldom have I had an issue caused by the OS.

Re:How about some technical analysis (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 6 years ago | (#25160301)

Tech shouldn't be about "gee, everybody's using it."

Ok, lets switch our servers to Plan 9, surely any CS grad will understand how to perfectly use it, right? While yes, you are correct in saying you should look at the benefits of Solaris Vs Linux, and because it is still UNIX it is more or less a void point, but if most of the new graduates don't work with an OS, it is bound to die out and get replaced with a more familiar OS. Either that or you have an incompetent admin running your servers.

That's not a system you can trust for the long haul. You can't trust your applications will remain compatible.

No, but you can usually count on a more up-to-date system and generally a stable one at that. Solaris only has a few releases, Linux has many, many more (mostly because it is OSS). Also, most UNIX apps are developed for Linux and later ported to Solaris, not the other way around, meaning that some things may be untested on the Solaris platform.

Re:How about some technical analysis (1, Interesting)

synthespian (563437) | about 6 years ago | (#25160365)

With all the GCC bugs Linux has? With the poor track record on security?

Linux might be fine and dandy for web monkeys, or huge data crunching. It's cheap. It's fast. But that's not all there is to it, at least for some stuff.

For apps, on Unix, thanks, but no thanks. Not with that sloppy "release early, release often" process. Even the LHC project had security problems due to Linux. Wake up!

Re:How about some technical analysis (2, Insightful)

Shaman (1148) | about 6 years ago | (#25160405)

What kind of crap are you talking about here. GCC bugs? They're common to ALL operating systems using GCC - including OpenSolaris.

Security issues have been either few and far between - or in applications running on TOP of linux, which is a whole other subject.

If you had a clue, you'd eat it.

Re:How about some technical analysis (1, Informative)

certain death (947081) | about 6 years ago | (#25160479)

You obviously have not kept up with all the Kernel vulns...Do lots of reading before inserting foot in mouth.

Re:How about some technical analysis (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 6 years ago | (#25160541)

With all the GCC bugs Linux has? With the poor track record on security?

The bugs usually don't affect the ability to compile code effectively. And I'm sure Solaris has just as many security flaws, it just is less audited as it is proprietary software (with the exception of OpenSolaris which has downloadable source code but I'm not sure if it is OSS) and not used as much as Linux, not to mention that every proprietary software company in existence spends money on "studies" to find security flaws in Linux so they can proclaim that *insert OS here* is much more secure and stable than Linux, Solaris has a lower marketshare so it is less targeted by these "studies".

For apps, on Unix, thanks, but no thanks. Not with that sloppy "release early, release often" process. Even the LHC project had security problems due to Linux. Wake up!

Release early, release often usually makes applications more secure and stable in the long run though.

And I'm sure that if the exact same software was running on a Solaris box it would have magically been immune to the attack?

This incident occured at 10:13 on 10th September. Due to an incorrect configuration in a private account on one of the CMS Web servers, it became possible to overwrite a Web page. The issue was detected within a few hours and full CMS operations were always guaranteed. The problem is understood, has been corrected, and as part of the review process started by CMS, the affected service has been terminated. Security issues in Web applications are a common threat, and the CERN Security Team recommends all service managers to review the security of their web applications. More information is available at: http://cern.ch/security/webapps/ [cern.ch] The CERN Security Team

According to http://it-support-servicestatus.web.cern.ch/it-support-servicestatus/IncidentArchive/080915-CMSMON.htm [web.cern.ch] it was an idiot admin who misconfigured an account. You mean to tell me that admins don't make mistakes when running Solaris? Wow! I should totally switch over, perhaps I wouldn't ever make a typo or grammatical error either!

Re:How about some technical analysis (1)

synthespian (563437) | about 6 years ago | (#25160443)

Plan 9 is experimental and you know it. Inferno might be a viable alternative for a grid OS, commercially uppported with Plan 9 design, even though you intended it as joke.

http://www.vitanuova.com/solutions/grid/ [vitanuova.com]

Anyway, you sort of prove my point. Too many people make uniformed choice. There might be better solutions out there, if you are willing to think a liittle outside the box. But managers can't really do that, can they? They just look at the $number$ on their spreadsheet, and are mentally unable to factor in other things - like quality.

I guess the bottom line is: can I hire a cheap sysadmin, and a group of cheap web monkeys?

So, if people want to make a career underspecializing, be my guest. But just keep in mind that all this Linux PR you read is not set by the "community", but by big boys who are commoditizing enterprise software.

Re:How about some technical analysis (2, Insightful)

NormalVisual (565491) | about 6 years ago | (#25160573)

if most of the new graduates don't work with an OS, it is bound to die out and get replaced with a more familiar OS. Either that or you have an incompetent admin running your servers.

I imagine a lot of MVS admins and users would be surprised to hear this, as I don't believe there are a lot of MVS-centric courses in most IT curriculums.

Re:How about some technical analysis (1)

synthespian (563437) | about 6 years ago | (#25160321)

Let me add some more: I can't, for the life of me, imagine Linux running on Computed Tomography scanners.
That would be horrible, that would be criminal...You often see Sun - and I suspect Solaris - on medical hardware. There must be a reason for that...

For instance,

http://www.sun.com/solutions/documents/success-stories/HC_Philips_BB.xml [sun.com]

Re:How about some technical analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160607)

You can't trust your CLOSED SOURCE applications will remain compatible. Which ones are these, anyway? Oracle will stay compatible. Who else writes software for Linux and lets it die? Why are you using it? If it's an open source application, it's going to work. End of story.

Re:How about some technical analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160993)

When was the last time the ABI was changed? It has happened, but it's not something that is done lightly, it's done with reason and with clear benefit.

It's definitely different strokes for different folks, AIX and Solaris seem to have their places, with the rate of firings on the solaris team and the near total lack of community support (it takes coders too, not just solaris honks beating the drum talking about how great dtrace and zfs are) I'd guess solaris' place is going to be in the history books.

Perpetual ABI support or not, how long does it take to calcify and OS? Intel and AMD add new instructions every major generation, buses change every 2 to 3 generations.

my dick is experience growth (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160195)

but you don't see it in the NYTã

Re:my dick is experience growth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160309)

That's because it's too small of a market for NYT to notice.

Performance (3, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 6 years ago | (#25160207)

I keep hearing that Solaris is the king of performance. Aside from ZFS, is the kernel really that much better?

With OpenSolaris, I'd really like to see some standard benchmarks of a few common server distros (SLED, CentOS, Debian, FreeBSD, NetBSD, whatever) compared to OpenSolaris on the same hardware.

Re:Performance (2, Interesting)

Shaman (1148) | about 6 years ago | (#25160251)

ZFS is really not that impressive. Only if you are building systems with giant disk subsystems - which is exactly where you will be buying SAN at this point instead. We just bought a HP 5000 series SAN with 138 disk drives in it... does self-healing and provides up to 1.4TB/s throughput, doesn't use ZFS. ZOMG!

Re:Performance (2, Insightful)

bonkeydcow (1186443) | about 6 years ago | (#25160715)

zfs in incredibly impressive. No fsck. That's huge. snapshots... allowing zone users to manage their own storage...Unlimited filesystem size. (Your storage array can be huge but if your filesystem can't handle it....

Re:Performance (3, Informative)

chekk4 (1367067) | about 6 years ago | (#25160767)

Actually, ZFS really IS that impressive. Almost platter speed using the equivalent of raid-6 without a hardware raid controller. It's not perfect, but in my testing, it has performed extremely well.
How do you get 1.4TB/s with only 138 drives? Even if you have hundreds of gigabit switches, the drives collectively are nowhere near that aggregate throughput.

Cheers.

Re:Performance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25161013)

Psst, it's because he has 0 clue what he's talking about.

ZFS works great for us and it even detected and healed errors in flight when we had a controller go funky.

Troll indeed.

Re:Performance (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160561)

Got the balls to drop an strace on your production Oracle database? I tried strace on an Oracle database on RHEL 5 and the damn process deadlocked and the box needed a reboot to clear it up. Good thing it was a development DB.

I've put a truss (and now dtrace) on PRODUCTION Oracle databases running on Solaris many times.

I don't dare do that on Linux.

Solaris is as far beyond Linux in stability as Linux is beyond Win2K.

Re:Performance (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 6 years ago | (#25160587)

BTW, I'm an idiot and I meant to type SLES and not SLED.

Unification (0)

syousef (465911) | about 6 years ago | (#25160217)

If Linux/Unix does actually "take off" and become widely adopted, there is no way that this fragmentation among dozens of distros can continue. One or at most 2 will become defacto standards and the others will fade away. What I hope is that the best features of each make it into these unified distros. For example though I've never used it I keep hearing that ZFS is a fantastic file system. If so I hope it makes it into Linux and into the unified distros.

Will the Solaris product remain as a niche even after this happens? It doesn't matter.

Of course this is just one possiblity. MacOS could become dominant. Vista or a successor may recapture and consolidate market position. In the worst case scenario the desktop and server segments become so fragmented that you'll have dozens of versions of each app - 1 per OS.

Re:Unification (1)

Shaman (1148) | about 6 years ago | (#25160273)

The LSB solves most of this issue.

Why most people don't standardize on APT, though... it's beyond me. IMHO they should all talk to the Debian people and build a hardened core OS that they can build their management systems etc. on top of in order to differentiate themselves.

But what do I know...

Re:Unification (1)

farkus888 (1103903) | about 6 years ago | (#25160705)

the LSB has been a huge improvement. personally I like pacman is best of all of the package managers I have ever used. the only issue with that being standardized across all of linux is that because of the mentality of Arch there is no refined graphical frontend for it. and there really isn't any well supported plan to make one either. honestly I never managed to figure out how rpm became such a force. its improved a lot since red hat 8 when I first started using linux, but it still can't compete with some of the other options.

Re:Unification (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160795)

The LSB solves most of this issue.

* goes on to explain one of a hundred reasons the LSB won't actually solve this issue *

Re:Unification (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 6 years ago | (#25160379)

One or at most 2 will become defacto standards and the others will fade away.

We already have that. We have Red Hat (RPM) based distros and Debian (APT) based distros. Just about any major distro can fall into that category, CentOS, RHEL, Fedora, Yellow Dog, and even openSUSE can be considered to be with Red Hat based (RPM) distros. On the other hand, Ubuntu, Debian, KNOPPIX, Xandros, DSL, etc.

There has also been a lot of talk about LSB that could help unification (which, honestly IMO is not needed and will just be a waste of work on distros for a failed standard)

MacOS could become dominant

I can't see Apple wanting OS X to become dominant. They make $$$ of of hardware sales to fanboys. The die-hard Mac fans. Apple honestly wouldn't be able to keep up with the demand if Macs had 25% or more of the marketshare. Apple is happy to sell iPods to everyone and keep the Macs for the fanboys. Now, they want OS X to have access to all major software and to have drivers, so they don't want too low of a marketshare, but I can't see Apple wanting OS X to have more than 10% of the marketshare. Much as how Ferrari doesn't want us all to be driving Ferraris, it loses the prestige of driving one.

In the worst case scenario the desktop and server segments become so fragmented that you'll have dozens of versions of each app - 1 per OS.

Ummm... How is that bad? There are dozens of versions of Apache, one for each OS, yet it still manages to be a unified server. And dozens of separate distro specific Linux kernels but just about all are compatible with all programs (when the proper libraries are installed).

Re:Unification (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160489)

ebuilds FTW!

Re:Unification (3, Insightful)

at_slashdot (674436) | about 6 years ago | (#25160427)

The thing is... Linux took off, but people are too busy debating about irrelevant issue to notice, there are millions of Linux users already.

Not all the best features are technical (4, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | about 6 years ago | (#25160233)

When evaluating the success of a product in the marketplace, it's important to note that there are many features of even highly technical products that are not technical in nature, at all.

Linux compares very closely to BSD from a technical standpoint, BSD has a much longer history than Linux, and is arguably better than Linux in many areas. It's definitely had more time to mature. So what feature does Linux have that has everybody talking about Linux?

Its license.

I'm not knocking the excellence that Linus Torvalds [wikipedia.org] has displayed over and over again over the years. He's done a great job and I depend on his efforts every day in running my own business. But as great as Linus has done managing the technology of Linux, it would be hard to say that Theo De Raadt [wikipedia.org] has done any worse. It would be easy to claim that Theo's work is more secure, but both have produced excellent products that are truly world class in nature.

But what has everybody talking about Linux is the license - the share and share alike requirement laid down by the GPL, which turns the Tragedy of the Commons [wikipedia.org] around on its ear so that everybody is pushing the project along together, rather than taking what's convenient and giving nothing back.

The sad truth? "More free" isn't always better. Just like "less government regulation" isn't always a good idea [google.com] , you can often get a better mix for everybody by limiting people's freedom to screw each other.

Now, Solaris is behind the 8-ball. Even with the same license as Linux, they'd have to show a clear, compelling advantage to cause people to switch their efforts away from Linux. Given just how good Linux is in so many different areas that Solaris can't even touch today, that would be very, very hard to do.

Show me a Solaris supercomputer and I'll show you hundreds of Linux-based supercomputers. Show me a $40 Solaris-based router, or a Solaris phone, or a Solaris-based pocket calculator. Ironically, while Solaris is touted for "big iron", it's a non-starter in the list of the top 500 supercomputers, while Linux is dominant.

Go Tux!

Re:Not all the best features are technical (4, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 6 years ago | (#25160335)

Solaris doesn't play in the supercomputer market because the Sparc architecture is not cost effective for that application. The big iron that Solaris runs on are enterprise scale database servers, which are optimized for an entirely different set of performance parameters.

Re:Not all the best features are technical (5, Interesting)

BlueQuark (104215) | about 6 years ago | (#25160385)

Please elaborate with what aeras and tasks that Linux is so good at that Solaris
can't touch?

I use both Solaris and Linux in my environments and Solaris 10 is by far the superior
OS in my opinion. We have Solaris servers on both SPARC and AMD64 and Linux on AMD and Intel 64 bit hardware.

We had migrated a number of Sybase instances to Linux, but we kept having reliability and performance problems, so we migrated them back to Solaris but Solaris 10 on AMD64 boxes
and we've been extremely happy with the results.

Our company is current migrating all of our market data servers to Solaris AMD64 servers in Zones and will reduce the number of Linux servers which stand at 25 to 4 X4600s running Solaris 10. In our testing of Solaris on x4600 as opposed to DL585s (same CPU and memory configurations) we have seen a large performance gain and cheaper operating costs, since we don't have to pony up a RedHat license for each server.

Re:Not all the best features are technical (-1, Troll)

Shaman (1148) | about 6 years ago | (#25160419)

So, you're basically a Solaris fanboi. Got it.

Re:Not all the best features are technical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160781)

So, you're basically a Solaris fanboi. Got it.

Nice ad hominem total bullshit response to a series of claims backed by first-hand experience.

Dumbass.

Re:Not all the best features are technical (1)

JanneM (7445) | about 6 years ago | (#25160701)

"Please elaborate with what aeras and tasks that Linux is so good at that Solaris
can't touch?"

I've tried to play with Solaris at home twice, just to see what it's about. What it's about, for me, is an OS that doesn't support the hardware I have available for playing. And with no personal experience on it, and no way for me to form an opinion over time in an informal, non-critical setting like my own home, I have no inclination to suggest we look at Solaris rather than continue using linux on our cluster machines at work.

Yes, it's made for server hardware - like the clusters we have - not the laptop I have at home running as a small server (hey, it's silent, draws little power, keyboard and screen folds away when not in use, and comes with UPS built right in). But nobody's going to want to allocate a server and spend work time just to test a different OS when the current OS is doing a decent job already.

Re:Not all the best features are technical (0, Troll)

synthespian (563437) | about 6 years ago | (#25160505)

Bullshit. It's not the license. It's the huge PR machine behind it. IBM and all big boys supporting Linux are really selling hardware and are using Linux to commoditize enteprise software. If anything, the GPL scares people away as it is hostile to small software houses. Now, look at the Windows software ecosystem with its myriad software houses. Are you enlightened now?

Re:Not all the best features are technical (4, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 6 years ago | (#25160803)

It's not the license. It's the huge PR machine behind it. IBM and all big boys supporting Linux are really selling hardware and are using Linux to commoditize enteprise software.

And do you know why these companies chose Linux as the focus of their PR machines? As the GP post argued, it's because the advantages the GPL provides to these big companies over BSD-style licenses.

These big companies know that if their competitors use the code they contribute, it will have to be on the same terms as the contributor. It can't be closed up, embraced, extended and then used as a weapon against the original contributor. It's a simple exercise in game theory.

Re:Not all the best features are technical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25161001)

Hey! Thanks a lot for that wikipedia article on that Torvalds guy, I'd never heard of him. That "linux" thing he did seems pretty cool

PC-BSD anyone? (2, Insightful)

not already in use (972294) | about 6 years ago | (#25160243)

I think it would be more appropriate to contemplate FreeBSD entering the desktop market with PC-BSD. PC-BSD certainly isn't a good name from a marketing standpoint, but you'd be hard pressed to find significant features found in Linux that aren't found in FreeBSD 7. Then, consider the fact that FreeBSD includes ZFS support out of the box, and won't suffer from distro-itis, in which too many linux distributions exist that use too many different stacks/packaging systems, etc. FreeBSD is open while having a unified direction, the latter missing from the multitude of desktop linux distros.

Re:PC-BSD anyone? (-1, Troll)

Shaman (1148) | about 6 years ago | (#25160383)

Actually there are quite a few features found in Linux not found in FreeBSD or PC-BSD. Like write access to NTFS, inotify, many journalled file systems, user-space FS, multiple kernel virtualization methods and client optimizations, stable LVM, et al

And how about those forklift upgrades that FreeBSD seems to love... no "apt-get dist-upgrade" foolishness for BSD. Oh no... it's time to format!

Re:PC-BSD anyone? (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | about 6 years ago | (#25160555)

Like write access to NTFS

pkg_add -r fusefs-ntfs . Lo and behold, write access to NTFS

Re:PC-BSD anyone? (1)

smoker2 (750216) | about 6 years ago | (#25160679)

1)http://www.ntfs-3g.org/
2)The inotify API is Linux specific. Some other systems provide similar mechanisms, e.g., FreeBSD has kqueue, and Solaris has /dev/poll
You don't need to format to upgrade either. I could go on but you're trolling so just read [freebsd.org] .

Re:PC-BSD anyone? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160697)

Actually there are quite a few features found in Linux not found in FreeBSD or PC-BSD. Like write access to NTFS,

Write access to NTFS is not likely to be an issue on a server.

inotify

FreeBSD has kqueue, which is arguably far better designed and generically useful an event notification mechanism

many journalled file systems,

Why do you need more than one journaled file system?

user-space FS

FreeBSD supports FUSE. I'm not sure why you want this on a server, though

multiple kernel virtualization methods and client optimizations

You got one right! OMG! Linux supports KVM, FreeBSD doesn't include any built-in virtualization support. But then, FreeBSD has jails, and Linux doesn't, so we'll call it a draw?

stable LVM, et al

FreeBSD has GEOM, a "modular disk I/O request transformation framework", which is arguably more generic and better designed than LVM. Notice a trend here ...

And how about those forklift upgrades that FreeBSD seems to love... no "apt-get dist-upgrade" foolishness for BSD. Oh no... it's time to format!

FreeBSD has freebsd-update, which supports binary updates between major and minor releases. Prior to the introduction of freebsd-update, the process was a bit more painful, but a format was certainly not required

However, note that FreeBSD doesn't tie their third party software (eg, packages/ports) to the base system. So you can keep a FreeBSD 4.x system around for 5 years and still have a modern up-to-date installation of your applications.

On Debian, however, you'll just have Stale-OS, unless you're willing to risk destabalizing your production systems by upgrading the *entire* base operating system

You're clearly unfamiliar with FreeBSD

Re:PC-BSD anyone? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160411)

Here! Here!

Also, Mac are on a come back and they are Unix as well.

It's the hardware (2, Interesting)

espergreen (849246) | about 6 years ago | (#25160295)

Solaris is dying, but it's because of the hardware. The "big iron" sparc hardware is simply obsolete. Paying tens of thousands of dollars for a 2ghz sparc system is looking less and less attractive. Solaris x86, of course, cannot compete with Linux. AIX is still relevant due to the great LPAR virtualization and great POWER hardware. Nothing from HP or Sun comes close.

More like it's the support (2, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 6 years ago | (#25160987)

I've worked in Sun Shops before, and I've seen Sun support folks come in to repair 15 year old boxes that were running mission critical databases. Also, if you write sun certified software, they tend to bend over backwards to ensure it will be backwards compatible. I've even seen Sun send engineers when a Solaris 6 App stopped working in Solaris 8 to help the shop solve the problem.

That may not seem like much to you, but if your a decent sized business that is making millions of dollars per year and it has to work, Sun is a worthy look if for no other reason than you only have to develop that application once with reasonable assurance that it will work on future versions of the OS.

my preference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160319)

I don't see Solaris disappearing in the future. having worked with both linux and solaris i prefer solaris.

Overnight fix for Sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160333)

Staring them in the face. GPL3. Do that, overnight thousands of new enthusiastic developers and users. It is beyond obvious there is a major schism developing in linux land over the 2-3 split, so sun could take advantage of it and they are coming from a position of already having a decent working product. Just change the license to the one that will work better for those who care about patent freedoms (or worrying about them as much I mean).

Rival what huh? (4, Insightful)

Aphoxema (1088507) | about 6 years ago | (#25160349)

I wasn't aware of the 'rivalry' between Sun and, uhh, those bunch of other people who openly contribute to GNU/Linux.

Maybe it's similar to that 'rivalry' between Gnome and KDE, or Slackware and Red Hat, or all those other things that it's generally the onlookers that assume there's a conflict because heaven forbid there's such a thing as two different things sharing the same space when there's a choice to be had between them.

So, one day Solaris might win and then everything else will be gone?

These competitions only exist when there's money or ratings at stake, or when people are bored.

Of course it isn't going anywhere (4, Insightful)

debatem1 (1087307) | about 6 years ago | (#25160367)

Solaris runs on mission critical systems, the kind that will (absent horrible, business-destroying failure) be running until their tape drives rust solid. It isn't going anywhere, and even if Sun's interest in it evaporates, there will probably still be thousands of systems out there chugging along merrily for years to come.

Re:Of course it isn't going anywhere (1)

Shaman (1148) | about 6 years ago | (#25160429)

This is probably the first sane statement in this article yet. :) Thanks for that.

Sun has already tried Linux (1)

ratboot (721595) | about 6 years ago | (#25160387)

"Sun, he declared [Jim Zemlin], should just move over to Linux."

In fact, Sun has already embraced Linux without very much succes, see :

http://www.sun.com/software/linux [sun.com]

The Times? (3, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | about 6 years ago | (#25160399)

I was a little confused to see this on the NYT web site, since most readers there would never have never heard of Solaris before. But this seems to be some kind of syndicated story that's appearing on a lot of other web sites. This one [thestandard.com] has an interesting post from somebody at Gracenote. Of course, his comments will be read in light of the fact that Gracenote is Evil [slashdot.org] .

A decent article, though I wish they had quoted somebody besides a Linux Foundation flack for the Solaris-Is-Dying side of the argument.

Old OSes don't die, they just fade away... (5, Insightful)

TheMidnight (1055796) | about 6 years ago | (#25160407)

Solaris is the smallest percentage of UNIX platforms my company's clients run on. AIX is first, followed by HP-UX. However, though Linux is a popular operating system with universities, web sites, startups and small server solutions, Linux on x86 scales horribly (and I do mean horribly) on our application and other high-performance database solutions with thousands of users compared with the big UNIX operating systems. ext3 can't support the filesystem throughput required even with RAID 10.

We still configure Solaris systems on Solaris 10 UltraSparc, and I believe Sun just came out with a new, rather mean processor. Solaris, and certainly HP-UX and AIX, are not going anywhere soon. There are too many enterprise database systems (new, not just legacy) that require the far more powerful and scalable hardware and software that Sun, IBM and HP offer.

Have you ever benchmarked the 4.7 GHz POWER6 chips on AIX 6.1? It's the fastest processor and operating system combination I've ever seen.

Die Solaris!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160417)

Die Solaris Die!!!!

Sorry, that was a little animated, but it gets the point across.

Sun servers (1)

nixbox (797731) | about 6 years ago | (#25160445)

Don't forget that most of the enterprises use BOTH Sun servers and Solaris which makes for a great combination as far as support is concerned.

Unlike Linux (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 6 years ago | (#25160449)

Solaris is a hard core OS for hard core hardware that just works, Linux is not; I.E. one rarely ever sees a Solaris system crash due to an OS bug, never seen a Solaris system need to be rebooted due to a kernel quirk.

Solaris is also open source and adaptable to suit whatever needs Linux serves. For example, there is Nexenta, a GNU userland on top of OpenSolaris. Eventually, Solaris can in fact be a more robust Enterprise-quality drop-in replacement for Linux.

It can also do things Linux cannot do; for example, capabilities and administrative convenience that the ZFS filesystem has which Linux lacks.

Linux is not there yet; Linux on commodity hardware is a bicycle, Solaris/*BSD on high-end PC server equipment is a motorbike. Solaris on Sun hardware is a tank.

If you need for a server to have 99.999% uptime, guaranteed: Linux 2.6 is not your OS. Solaris is perhaps an option.

If you can tolerate periodic unexpected outages of a server at bad times that last however long it takes you to reboot the box, or get there physically to diagnose some subtle thing that went wrong, then Linux on commodity PC hardware is for you.

Otherwise, Solaris on Sun hardware is much more robust than Linux on commodity PC hardware.

Can do things you simply cannot do with Linux on most server equipment; for example, turning off a failed CPU or memory stick without completely powering down and physically removing it from the box.

It is also useful to examine the build quality of Sun servers VS one of the thousands of commodity brand PC manufacturers' servers.

I think ultimately Sun is going nowhere, until Linux can give an adequate answer to Solaris.

And if Linux finally attains the state-of-the-art engineering, stability, and robustness, that Solaris has, Sun will still be well and alive selling hardware to run Linux on.

Because there are essentially only 4 manufacturers to find robust enterprise server hardware from : Sun, HP(Compaq), IBM, Unisys.

Sun may prefer Solaris for their servers, IBM may prefer their own tailored flavor of Linux; HP may prefer HP-UX, etc. In any case all of them sometimes have to accept Windows or Linux (commodity solutions).

So long as the manufacturers keep their OS alive, it will remain alive. Solaris is actually good enough and well-integrated enough to be a high selling point in their hardware.

Re:Unlike Linux (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | about 6 years ago | (#25160695)

Sun may prefer Solaris for their servers...but may sometimes have to accept Windows or Linux (commodity solutions).

Correct. Commodity solutions are how most people are introduced to technology: the rotary dial phone, the serial port non-acoustic modem, the Model T car, etc. But robust, highly reliable technology is usually not a commodity.

Sun had a good run trying to convince the computing community Solaris was the commodity OS everyone needed to use. But commodity means you have to appeal to the Lowest Common Denominator; or create multiple products based on a single solution. Sun as a company is not humble enough to accept either of these options. Solaris will disappear into the technology background like any other automated control system.

outlook not so good (1)

blakecraw (1235302) | about 6 years ago | (#25160517)

articles about unix are forced onto linux.slashdot.org.

It's doomed.

Is this 2005? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160589)

I think Solaris is in a better spot today than it was a few years ago. It has good features (like zfs & dtrace) that aren't available in Linux. You can get it for free (if that's what you're looking for). Sun has interesting hardware (T1000/T2000, T5120/5220/5140/5240) that performs amazingly well in certain applications and uses very little power.

There were quite a few years where it appeared Sun was sitting around doing nothing. They kept shipping the the same old (not even a bump in clock speed) hardware while Intel was proving Moore's law over and over again. Solaris 9 was just minimally better than Solaris 8. That's when I was worried about their future.

Today, I know people in medium & large companies that are starting to rethink Linux because they're tired of paying RH lots of money for crappy support. I also know of startups that are choosing Solaris over Linux to build their infrastructure and develop their products.

Re:Is this 2005? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160953)

you are heterosexual.

Stupid flamebait (2, Insightful)

jlarocco (851450) | about 6 years ago | (#25160647)

This is like asking when Ford is going to squeeze Chevy out of the automobile market. It probably isn't going to happen, and there's really no reason why it should.

Competition is good. "Monoculture" is bad. Having more than one dominant UNIX-like OS is good. In this case it's great because both products are more or less standards compliant.

OT: Computer users ponder future of NYT (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about 6 years ago | (#25160687)

Meanwhile... everyone else ponders the future of the New York Times, when the Internet and online computing is getting all the buzz.

Can a dead tree [forbes.com] publication survive?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

ZFS snapshots virtual machines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160707)

I run a 300,000 user site that is based on the solaris platform. I work closely with the sysadmins, and my primary role is as an application/web developer.

ZFS, containers, snapshots, and the mobility of the virtual machine environment that Solaris is promoting has revolutionized how I go about testing and deploying large scale applications.

Want an exact copy of your production servers, data and all, to test a new application on? No problem, snapshot, send, receive, done.

Messed something up? No problem. zfs rollback.

Want to mirror 6-7 server's worth of data, in realtime, to a remote location for failover and business continuity reasons? Np.

ZFS alone is worth working with the Solaris operating system. Cutting edge rock solid hardware is another. Take a look at the T-series machines. 17,000 bucks for 2 x 8 core machines with 16 gigs of ram in a 2U format.

Between the hypervisor technologies to carve up servers into multiple servers, the zones and containers with zfs to further virtualize things, software like the xVM ops center to manage it all, and Solaris is here to stay.

My single biggest gripe so far is the lack of a central repository for software, like apt-get, etc.. However, that is now in the works in open solaris, and will soon be an addition in enterprise Solaris.

Having worked in enterprise environments with VMS/alpha, HP-UX, Windows, linux, you name it, I have to say that hands down, Solaris is the best business unix I've used to date.

Of course it will! (3, Insightful)

SEE (7681) | about 6 years ago | (#25160741)

After all, the arguments for Solaris's survival are cogent and persuasive. A handful of features, an installed base, a matter of trust, superior solidity, people actually switching back.

All, indeed, the same cogent and persuasive arguments presented in 1998 for why SCO's Unix versions weren't going anywhere anytime soon. And look at SCO today!

Solaris Sparc is dead (1)

whereiswaldo (459052) | about 6 years ago | (#25160749)

Solaris Sparc is dead. Solaris x86 may have a chance as the performance is good.

Every experience I've had with Sun hardware and software has been a real fucking pain in the ass. Sun has no place in the low to mid range from what I've seen. As for high range, it may be worth the effort but I can't comment from experience there.

Re:Solaris Sparc is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160819)

Sigh. Once again, we need an "ignorant" mod.

Most people running Apache on Linux on Intel would be much better off running Apache on Solaris on a T1000 (which is SPARC-based, in case you haven't been paying attention).

Re:Solaris Sparc is dead (1)

whereiswaldo (459052) | about 6 years ago | (#25160863)

I guess I will remain ignorant until you cite your source.

I Ponder the Future of Solaris In a non-IB world (2, Insightful)

amiga500 (935789) | about 6 years ago | (#25160761)

I wonder how much the downturn in financial services is going to hurt sales of Solaris. The only companies I know of who go out and buy $500k Sun servers by the pallet are financial services, and perhaps a couple of telcos.

The future is ZFS, buh bye Windows and Linux!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160877)

Solaris may or may not be the future but the ZFS file system IS.

Mover over Windows and Linux, ZFS is the future. If you don't use it you will be left in the dust.

BTW, Mac OS-X will be using it. Looks like the future is Mac OS-X!

Solaris on multicore SPARC machines (1)

sveiki_neliels (870930) | about 6 years ago | (#25160891)

A fair amount of the future of Solaris is tied to new Sun hardware, as far as I'm concerned. Development of an OS that can target (for finely-tuned performance) the type of multicore systems Sun is leaning towards would be very important.

This is not as big a deal with the multicore and simultaneous multithreading available in the Niagara processors, but there is a potential for Solaris to be the only (or best) choice for extracting every ounce of performance with the new Rock processor they have coming.

I was recently at a talk by Marc Tremblay of Sun about the Rock's Transactional Memory model and scout threading performance enhancements. They should provide performance benefits out of the box, but an OS tuned to use Rock's new architecture would be just as important as the processor itself in determining the future success of both.

Small mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25160913)

"Blogging is enjoying growth, with a contingent of devotees too large to be called a cult following at this point. The New York Times, meanwhile, has thrived as a longstanding, primary news source geared to luddites. But with blogs the object of all the buzz in the industry, can the Times's rival news source hang on, or is it destined to be displaced by blogging altogether?"

Fixed that for them.

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