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Take A Look At Solaris 10

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the aughguha-it-burns dept.

Operating Systems 352

SilentBob4 writes "There haven't been many reviews of the recent Solaris 10 release from Sun Microsytems, and even those which are available are thin at best... until now. Mad Penguin, normally a Linux-only site, has release the most comprehensive and well-written review of the OS to date."

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penis size (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811260)

doesn't matter

Re:penis size (0, Troll)

akpcep (659230) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811638)

Hate goths? [livejournal.com] - You will now!

Is solaris still used often? (5, Interesting)

stuffedmonkey (733020) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811265)

I am wondering, not to troll, but what kinds of uses does Solaris still find itself filling?

Re:Is solaris still used often? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811292)

Enterprise computing. The names "Oracle" and "Solaris" are often spoted together, usually in the same sentance. Oracle may have made Linux a supported platform, hell it might even be their prefered platform, but dyed in the wool DBA's still tend to stick with Solaris.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (4, Informative)

BlueUnderwear (73957) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811369)

but dyed in the wool DBA's still tend to stick with Solaris.

Hey, wouldn't they tend to stick with DB/2 on IBM mainframes? At least in the financial sector they do. They wouldn't touch such newfangled technology as Solaris and Oracle with a ten-foot pole ;-)

Re:Is solaris still used often? (3, Informative)

rcamera (517595) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811384)

we use solaris and sybase in a financial environment, and we've been doing it for over a dozen years now. i thought this was pretty typical on wall street...

Re:Is solaris still used often? (1, Funny)

luvirini (753157) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811385)

Ofcourse Not. But some banks have actually modernised to really radical things called Minicomputers. Ofcourse they have to be IBM. I mean they must be daring to go to iSeries instead of the zSeries.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811408)

You're right, I should have qualified that as "dyed in the wool Oracle DBA's".

Just plain "should be dead" beardy type DBA's are generally found chained to old Unisys or IBM mainframes. Like Gollum, but without the humour.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (1)

BlueUnderwear (73957) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811438)

You're right, I should have qualified that as "dyed in the wool Oracle DBA's".

Hmmm, but then, "dyed in the wool MySql DBA's" will tend to stick with Linux and MySql instead... And "dyed in the wool Sequel Server DBA's" would likewise stick with Windows...

Re:Is solaris still used often? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811454)

I fail to see your point, although is there such a thing as a "dyed in the wool MySQL DBA"? Is there even such a thing as a "MySQL DBA"? I don't see there being much DB to A..

Re:Is solaris still used often? (1)

juhanio (770843) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811305)

maybe not "from Sun Microsytems, and" but perhaps "from Sun Microsystems, and "

Re:Is solaris still used often? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811306)

Sun execs use it to lead investors to believe that the company still has a future.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (4, Interesting)

BlueUnderwear (73957) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811316)

but what kinds of uses does Solaris still find itself filling?

I recently installed Solaris on my 2 Laptops. Reason: testing Solaris compatibility of software that I maintain! ;-)

It has been an interesting experience anyways, because I ended up not only testing (and fixing...) my own software, but also testing Solaris' usability (or rather: lack thereof...):

  • Very fragile install process (pop in the wrong CD just once, and start over from scratch...)
  • Refuses to create a Solaris partition if a Linux Swap partition is present (... because both share the same partition id 82, but other OS'es at least give you the option of "ignore this partition, and create a new one instead!"
  • Poor dependancy management in the installer (the Solaris installer does flag broken dependancies, but unlike most Linux distros does not have a button to "resolve" these automatically)
  • No straightforward way to configure a Swiss-German keyboard
  • On one of my two laptops, X Display was all messed up after install. Fortunately, there was still an xf86config-like script lying around.
  • poor hardware support (on both laptops, I had to download extra drivers from the net to get Ethernet... and the only way to get these drivers on the Laptop in the first place was to burn a CD.... One of the two Ethernet cards was a via-rhine, not exactly uncommon hardware!)
  • Unobvious paths for some sundry utils /usr/ccs/bin/make, /usr/sfw/bin/gcc. Find is your friend, but locate has left you stranded...

Re:Is solaris still used often? (5, Informative)

BlueUnderwear (73957) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811362)

Oh, and I forgot to mention:
  • On my AMD64 laptop the whole install was graphical, but for some reason, on the old (AMD 32) laptop, most of it was handled by a curses (?) base program running in a dtterm.
  • The author of the review critices the reboot that happens after the first CD. This is not that bad, some Linux distributions, such as SuSE do that too. However, it could at least pop out CD 1 after the reboot, or else, it'll just start over from scratch (which is a pain if you are not near your PC when the reboot happens). And yes, I did chose the option "automatically pop out CD" at the beginning of the install, but somehow it just doesn't happen...
  • There is no easy (GUI) way to install packages "after the fact" if you see that you need them. You have to manually rifle through your 5 CD's, copy the package files to /var/spool/pkg, and run pkgadd manually (or did I just miss something here?).
  • The drop-down menu to chose console login is nice, except for the case where you would need it the most: what do you do if the X installation is so messed-up that you don't see the lower half of your screen, including that menu? Oh, and telneting in from another machine is not an option, if your network card is one of the many that aren't supported out of the box...
  • How do you mount an USB keyfob, or similar device?

Re:Is solaris still used often? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811425)

On my AMD64 laptop the whole install was graphical, but for some reason, on the old (AMD 32) laptop, most of it was handled by a curses (?) base program running in a dtterm.

Resources/memory differences on the two laptops?

The author of the review critices the reboot that happens after the first CD. This is not that bad, some Linux distributions, such as SuSE do that too. However, it could at least pop out CD 1 after the reboot, or else, it'll just start over from scratch (which is a pain if you are not near your PC when the reboot happens). And yes, I did chose the option "automatically pop out CD" at the beginning of the install, but somehow it just doesn't happen...

Probably a not-totally-conformant CD drive that may not be "offically" supported under Solaris.

There is no easy (GUI) way to install packages "after the fact" if you see that you need them. You have to manually rifle through your 5 CD's, copy the package files to /var/spool/pkg, and run pkgadd manually (or did I just miss something here?).

You don't have to copy the packages. "pkgadd -d ..." works fine.

The drop-down menu to chose console login is nice, except for the case where you would need it the most: what do you do if the X installation is so messed-up that you don't see the lower half of your screen, including that menu? Oh, and telneting in from another machine is not an option, if your network card is one of the many that aren't supported out of the box...

"boot -s" or something similar from the OK> prompt will get you to single-user mode.

How do you mount an USB keyfob, or similar device?

No idea. The Sun hardware I work on is off in a server room - and I've never used USB keyfobs or similar on Solaris.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (1)

Paul Jakma (2677) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811591)

but for some reason, on the old (AMD 32) laptop, most of it was handled by a curses (?) base program running in a dtterm.

Amount of memory most likely. The installer decides which to fire up based on RAM. Below X MB (I think 128, I cant remember) you get the text-install-in-dtterm-in-X. Below 64MB (iirc) you get text install from console - no X.

I dont remember the precise MB figures, unfortunately. The 'switch points' could be 256MB and 128MB respectively, rather than 128/64, I dont quite remember.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (3, Informative)

oldmanmtn (33675) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811592)

You have to manually rifle through your 5 CD's, copy the package files to /var/spool/pkg, and run pkgadd manually

You don't have to copy them anywhere. Either "pkgadd -d /cdrom/..." and select your package from the list, or "pkgadd -d /cdrom/.../package_name".

How do you mount an USB keyfob, or similar device?

In theory, I don't think you should have to mount those at all. vold should do that automatically - just like it does for cds. In practice, getting S10 to recognize my iPod wasn't quite that easy. I haven't tried a USB device, so I can't say whether it will really work.

If vold doesn't automatically mount the keyfob, then try rebooting with the it inserted. Once it has been recognized once at boot, it should be recognized automatically in the future.

Oh, and telneting in from another machine is not an option, if your network card is one of the many that aren't supported out of the box.

On a real PC, you can often redirect the console to a serial line and use "tip" (or some Linux equivalent) to get to the machine's console. That also gives you a way to get a network driver onto the machine without burning it to a CD. uuencode it to ascii, and then use ~> to copy the file over. Since console redirection often isn't available on laptops, this may not work for you.

You can also try PXE booting your machine. Since the boot/install image is on a server, you can easily insert your driver into the image so it is available at install time.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (5, Insightful)

aaamr (203460) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811370)

While Solaris x86 is a supported platform from Sun, the bread and butter for Solaris has always been the Sparc platforms, so I'm not surprised the x86 version is not as polished.

What does Solaris get you?

- Guaranteed binary compatibility from the smallest SunFire V100 to the largest 96-CPU capable StarFire boxes.

- Excellent platform stability and predictiability. I have never had to recompile my Solaris kernel to support a memory upgrade. Happened to me with RHEL 2.1 on a production site.

- Excellent and consistent hardware quality

- Reasonable price/performance for some situations. Last I checked, a 4-way SunFire V440 was cheaper than an equivalent Intel box, and far far cheaper than anything from IBM.

I've worked with all flavors of Unix from AIX to Solaris, to HP-UX, to Linux, and I've been running Linux since 1998 in one form or another. My favorite production-grade Unix is still Solaris.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (1)

aaamr (203460) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811378)

Oh, and I forgot to mention... the GUI is just awful. Always has been. I would not choose Solaris as a workstation environment, just as an outstanding server platform.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (4, Informative)

BlueUnderwear (73957) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811420)

Oh, and I forgot to mention... the GUI is just awful.

Which makes it even more astonishing that it is so hard to get out of it. No Ctrl-Alt-Backspace to zap the X-server, no Ctrl-Alt-F1 to switch virtual consoles, etc. The only straightforward way is the "console login" drop down menu, which is kind of useless in the case the screen is so messed-up that you don't see it...

Fortunately there is another way: if you are a fast typer, and manage to log in on the console before X would start, you stay in text mode.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (3, Informative)

oldmanmtn (33675) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811614)

Which makes it even more astonishing that it is so hard to get out of it. No Ctrl-Alt-Backspace to zap the X-server.

This is available if you use the Xorg server instead of Xsun. I thought Xorg was the default in s10? If ctrl-alt-backspace isn't working, try using the crtl and alt on the right side of the keyboard. I don't know why those are different than the equivalents on the left side, but they seem to be a bit more reliable in this situation.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811421)

While Solaris x86 is a supported platform from Sun, the bread and butter for Solaris has always been the Sparc platforms, so I'm not surprised the x86 version is not as polished.

In the past, sure. But 10 is supposed to be a properly-polished x86 release for their new line of AMD64 machines.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (2, Interesting)

FatherOfONe (515801) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811465)

I am not trying to be a jerk, but how much memory did you add before you had to recompile your kernel?

Do you run RH ES 3.0? Would that also be a problem with it?

I run SuSE and have been up to 4GiG and haven't had a problem, and the motherboard offers up to 24GB or RAM support (Duel AMD Opteron with 64bit SuSE).

Thanks!

Re:Is solaris still used often? (2, Interesting)

aaamr (203460) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811584)

It was an upgrade from 2GB to 4GB, and the installed kernel did not have large mem support compiled in. Just one of the steps that was overlooked in the process. If I recall, only 3.5GB was recognized before the new kernel was installed.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (1)

guacamole (24270) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811574)

Solaris on x86 is supposed to come from the same source tree as Solaris for SPARC with only x86 bits being different. Given my previous experience with Solaris installer on sparc, I don't find the op's experience too surprising. Try a new feature or do something "non-standard" and it often blows up in your face.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (1)

Chris Kamel (813292) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811379)

I recently installed Solaris on my 2 Laptops. Reason: testing Solaris compatibility of software that I maintain
That's actually a circular reference, you're using Solaris because you need to support others who use it. Still doesn't answer the original question. And I don't mean to make fun of Solaris :)

Re:Is solaris still used often? (1)

BlueUnderwear (73957) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811428)

That's actually a circular reference,

Yes, indeed, it is. Glad you caught it. I guess that's why I put that winky smiley after that sentence...

And I don't mean to make fun of Solaris :)

Well I do. Given the hard time it gave me during the install, I gladly seized the opportunity...

Re:Is solaris still used often? (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811429)

All your points are a bit moot when looking at this from the [insert big Corp]'s UNIX administrator point-of-view. Solaris comes installed on their own hardware and the unobvious paths are really the result of a long history.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (4, Interesting)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811349)

Solaris will be used by the military for many years to come, its uses are as broad as there are uses for any operating system in existance.
Not just databases or webservers, in my tiny little world we use it mostly for processing radio signals. This also includes demodulation of 'digital' signals through software, as well as de-multiplexing, removing overhead, decryption, stripping through reed solomon, trellis, etc, etc, etc... 'Infinite possibilities' comes to mind most frequently.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (3, Informative)

rindeee (530084) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811528)

Solaris is THE OS in the US Federal arena. While there is a good bit of Linux and Windows in use, Solaris is the mainstay when it comes to production computing. The growth rate is also quite amazing 'round here. The raw number of new Sun boxen brought online on a weekly basis amazes me. It's a good, solid, dependable OS that runs on excellent and reliable hardware. What's not to love from the standpoint of a giant customer who wants to drop in a box and have it "just work". Also keep in mind that Solaris sells a pre-hardened version of its OS and specialized hardware to the Fed for use in high-security environments.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811582)

Every single Govt. RFP (request for proposal) I've seen this year had the boilerplate requiring Solaris compatibility replaced with a complex paragraph saying that Solaris and/or Linux compatibility was required but if it wasn't already Linux compatible, a planned migration path to Linux _must_ be provided.

With EAL4 certification for Linux, the handwriting is on the wall, I think.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (5, Informative)

Klootzak (824076) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811365)

Actually, there are many (mostly-legacy) applications that will ONLY run on the "older" Unicies.

I worked for a number of years doing SysAdmin/Infrastructure-Architectural work for various global banks. The majority of the niche applications used to provide complex financial services are STILL not ported to "modern" unix-like OS's.

As an example, DST International's (http://www.dstinternational.com) HiPortfolio product will only run on IBM's AIX and Sun's Solaris as it's Unix OS platform. The reason for this is the product is so damned old and ingrained into that specific industry, the company can afford to ignore their customers demands and not re-invest potential profit in expensive porting exercises... You can get away with murder by holding a monopoly on most of the large Asset-Management businesses.

If a bunch of clever programmers got together and wrote some clean, horizontally-scaling, easily intergrated applications to destroy the hold of these monopolistic "niche" software products, they could really make some money (and the world would be better off with one less monopoly market).

Re:Is solaris still used often? (2, Informative)

fizze (610734) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811374)

I've seen lots of FPGA related software being used on Solaris, as well as EDA programs like Mentor Graphics.
It is actually a big and vital part these products play for an electronic engineer.

Of course, some may say, these programs run on x86 and probably Windows OS as well. If you want quality, go for the Solaris version on a Sun, prefferably.

I have seen Mentor Graphics on an rather old Sun workstation behaving 10 times as fast as on a Dual Xeon opening/drawing the exact same layout.

So I guess thats kinda a nice use for Solaris. (and your (old) Sun, too)

Re:Is solaris still used often? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811424)

I would have to say Solaris is still running strong and is not going anywhere. Most of the DOD/Federal Gov uses it. Lets face it there the ones with all the money so thats what counts. It also has alot to do with there hardware and support. If anything goes wrong you have a sun engineer onsite with in 2 hours. Now on the other side I would love to run Linux too. Hell thats all I run at home. Solaris x86 has always been crap.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811435)

Big databases, for instance. Oracle often runs on a couple of Suns in RAC mode (Real Application Cluster or something). Then the Suns are connected to a Veritas SAN. The database binaries (the software itself) are intalled on the Suns and they all write the data to the SAN.

It works on Linux as well, but it's nowhere near as common as the above scenario.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (0)

confused one (671304) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811460)

Solaris is(was -- haven't been there in 3 years) used as the front end for data acquisition in a particular nuclear research lab.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (1)

AKnightCowboy (608632) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811600)

I am wondering, not to troll, but what kinds of uses does Solaris still find itself filling?

When you need a system to stay up for years at a time, you run Solaris on SPARC hardware. When you need UNIX on a simple server that can be rebooted from time to time to correct errors then you can run Linux. As usual someone will stroll out their Red Hat 5.2 box that's been up since they installed it, but that's the exception to the rule. Every single one of my Solaris servers has been up at least 2 years straight without a reboot.

Re:Is solaris still used often? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811647)

Uh. How about the uses that nearly ever Fortune 500 company has? Slashdot whiners may cry "Open Source it!" and "Who needs Solaris when you have Linux?!" but clearly most large corporations find it a very good solution for their needs (at least, those that aren't inherently Microsoft outfits).

I love Linux, but if I were a major corporation, I'd go with Solaris all the way. It has a 25 year history, a large development and support division within Sun, great support contracts, tied-in hardware to eek the most out of your system . . . And most of all, you have someone to blame if things go wrong. You have accountability. You have massive QA and R&D put into it.

If your billion dollar corporation uses Debian, what happens when something awful happens? Who sucks it up and bites the bullet for things fucking up? And while Debian (and other distros) have plenty of people working on the development and testing side, how much time, effort and MONEY are put into R&D? Simply put - they don't have it. It's companies like Sun and Microsoft that foot R&D, which Linux later benefits from by copying and implementing the general idea of that output R&D.

Netcraft confirms it... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811266)

Solaris is dead.

Ob Linus quote (0, Troll)

yogikoudou (806237) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811269)

"Solaris/x86 is a joke, last I heard."

releasing source code (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811271)

does not an open source project make. Sun best get their act together and encourage active open development of their platform if they ever want to catch up to the momentum of Linux. Of course, maybe they're going the way of the BSD operating systems and think they can get by with a closed team of developers.

Re:releasing source code (3, Interesting)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811290)

Or just maybe they're concentrating on their hardware like Apple do?

While the hell does every company nowadays have to release source code just to be accepted by you guys? Sun have been doing their thing, and doing it well, for years. They don't need to pander to you Open Source hippies in order to succeed.

Re:releasing source code (4, Insightful)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811308)

They don't have to. They chose to. However, for Solaris to be considered truly open-source, they must open up development. That is what the grand-parent is trying to say.

Re:releasing source code (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811553)

"for Solaris to be considered truly open-source, they must open up development. That is what the grand-parent is trying to say."

I suggest that unless you know the OP, you stick to what they DID say:

"Sun best get their act together and encourage active open development of their platform if they ever want to catch up to the momentum of Linux."

This is a clear statement: they must do X (encourage active development) if they want Y (to catch up to the momentum of Linux). You can argue with the specifics, if you disagree, but please don't start bringing phrases like "to be considered truly open-source" into it as if that were what the OP was talking about.

Re:releasing source code (2, Funny)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811301)

Yeah. I mean, it's only by encouraging OSS development of their platform that they'll finally, one day in the far distant future, be able to say that they've got a rock-solid OS that someone chooses to, say, deploy a large enterprise CRM or OLTP project. I mean, really, right now who the heck uses Solaris anyway? Just a bunch of amateurs in their basements.

You are missing the point. (2, Interesting)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811623)

WHen Solaris works (most of the time) it does very well.

When it does not, you are almost on your own, no matter how much you are paying for support (you would be surpirsed what companies like Sun can get away with, even when dealing with big clients).

With Linux, if the company providing support is ignoring you, you can try to solve the problem yourself (which is achievable in many cases) or ask somebody else to fix the problem.

With Sun you are lost if your problem is not one of their priorities.

Re:releasing source code (1)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811333)

> Sun best get their act together and encourage active open development of their platform if they ever want to catch up to the momentum of Linux.

What might be good for Sun isn't always good for the community. Even with just "versions" (ok, distros) of Linux (mm.. GNU/Linux), running around - we're having "Debian Rocks" , "Gentoo Rocks", "Redhat sucks" kind of rants and splits in the community.

For the sake of Linux and Hurd - I guess Solaris has to fail (or be the NEW GNU/Solaris.. RMS left enough room for that)

More choice is good. (1)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811407)

There is nothing wrong with having more choice. Choice is always good for the consumer.

Even though I don't plan to ever use Solaris, I think it's great that there are some people that do want to use it. This presumably means that there is at least one thing that it does better than Linux. It is OK for certain distributions to be much at one thing but worse at other things. I don't see why there needs to be one distibution that rules them all.

If a distribution really does suck, they will disappear by themselves. If they manage to hang around, then good luck to them! Even Windows! (Although please keep the business tactics legal in future.)

Re:releasing source code (1, Troll)

RaVPup (863498) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811360)

Solaris is a highly advanced operating system when deployed on its native hardware. If you want to get into the nitty gritty of why you can look it up. The thread management for one blows linux out of the water not to mention their SMP capability.

Re:releasing source code (3, Interesting)

quigonn (80360) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811398)

FUD, FUD, FUD. Linux so far scales to up to 256 CPUs on real computers (SGI Altix 3700, single node), while Solaris hasn't scaled to more than 106 CPUs on real computers (Sun Fire 15K).

Re:releasing source code (2, Insightful)

Ozric (30691) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811448)

I would not run a F15k as a single domain. That is Suns stong point Dynamic Alocation for Boards and Isolation. But that is more a function of SMS and OBP then the OS.

OZ

Re:releasing source code (1)

RaVPup (863498) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811481)

Altix is NUMA and the Fire uses switched bus SMP. The only reason that Solaris doesn't scale past 106 CPUs is because Sun haven't written NUMA support into the operating system. The only two architectures Solaris supports are both SMP. With open source support this might change.

Re:releasing source code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811487)

Actually, it has scaled up to 512 CPUs in specific installations (eg NASA's supercomputer) - SGI just doesn't advertise that capability to the general public.

Re:releasing source code (1)

ehack (115197) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811453)

I think parent was trying to be funny, not troll. Of course, with the IQ on /. getting diluted down to 100, this is being read as a straight karmawhore comment :)

A nice "first look" article (3, Informative)

luvirini (753157) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811282)

But I think what would be needed more is a try to do things like actual stresstesting and comparisions under load.

Why would they stress test solaris? (-1, Redundant)

Markos (71140) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811295)

When they clearly haven't even stress tested their server.

Well, at least I got to read page one before the slashdot effect.

page 1 (3, Informative)

Squiddl3 (745702) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811314)

Straigth from madpenguin.com page one of the review, too bad i wasn't able to read page 2 :(
-----------------c&p-------------
Sun Microsystems has recently released Solaris 10. It is currently free, as in beer, and most of it is promised to be released under an OSI approved license in the second quarter of 2005. Most everyone reading this probably knows all of that. The release and subsequent open sourcing of Solaris 10 has caused quite an uproar in the Open Source community and the IT industry as a whole. Linux advocates have been fighting Solaris advocates on forums across the Internet. The zealotry and misrepresentation from both sides has been really quite impressive. However, I am a BSD user. I am not on either side and will do my best to allow neither zealotry nor misrepresentation into this review.

Please continue reading after you have stopped laughing.

All political issues aside, Solaris 10 is a very impressive OS. It has some features no other operating system can claim and some that are not necessarily new, but have been implemented in an excellent way. This is not to say it is perfect. There are definitely things I dislike and areas that seem quite unpolished.

One of those aforementioned unpolished areas is the installation routine. It can be assumed that Solaris will not be installed by a novice. Even so, the Solaris install is painful and brings with it memories of Windows 2000 installs of old. This is not because its difficult, it is not. The installation is simply unwieldy. My main complaints are the following:

* You must partition, install a small base system and reboot to finish the install. I expect an OS to be installable without a reboot.
* For the first section of the install there is a web browser in the background, but for unknown reasons there is no browser in the second section.
* You have to switch CD's during the install, which is fine, but you can't just switch and walk away. You have to wait for it to read the CD and display another screen and then press next. There is probably a reason for this, but I just find it annoying.

Issues like these make the installation routine seem unfinished and just don't fit with the overall quality of the OS.

Upon booting Solaris for the first time, you are greeted by dtlogin. This is the default graphical login manager for Solaris and plainly has CDE roots. At this point, there is a drop-down menu in which you can choose to go back to a console login or choose which wm/dm to enter, both CDE and JDS3 are options. I am sure CDE has many great features and I know that some people love it. However, I am not one of them. JDS3 on the other hand is a nicely polished GNOME desktop. The theme and general feel is much improved over Sun's earlier versions. Nothing is very remarkable about JDS3, except network browsing. I have never seen any GNOME desktop do as well with windows and NIX network browsing.

There are things I dislike about JDS. As a media player, Sun has chosen the "Java Media Player." This program has no redeeming factors. XMMS or Rhythmbox would be much better choices. They also tapped Mozilla to be the web browser, not Firefox. With FF gaining more and more attention, this choice makes very little sense to me. However, those are my only complaints about JDS3 and they are small ones.

Nobody is considering Solaris 10 because of JDS3 or its installation routine. They are looking at it because of new features like DTrace, Zones and the new Service Management Framework. Indeed, it has been quite awhile since we have seen a release of any OS with as many large features as Solaris 10.

DTrace
One of the main new features in Solaris 10 is DTrace, a dynamic instrumentation system. DTrace consists of a scripting language, named D (not to be confused with the fledgling D Programming Language), and loadable kernel modules named "providers." When called upon, these "providers" track and report system information. DTrace has several features that separate it from other similar systems:

* It is dynamic. DTrace has no effect on system performance when not in use. Only those providers that are needed by a particular command are loaded and used. This means if you want to collect data on the scheduler, DTrace will not be collecting data on the IO system as well. This greatly improves performance over those systems that collect a huge amount of unneeded data.
* It can instrument both the kernel-level and user-level.
* It is safe. DTrace will not allow you to damage the system through its use. Some may find the idea of anything being "totally safe" rather amusing. However, this appears to be true. Time will tell if it holds up, but for the moment I have no evidence to the contrary.
* It is adaptable. DTrace really is more a scripting language then it is a tool like truss or top. This has its downside and upside. The disadvantage is that it is not a small thing to learn. Most will probably never use DTrace directly, but instead use programs written in D. There are already some of these and there will eventually be many more. The advantage to this is that its not limited like top or truss. Supposedly the test of a well-designed program is that people use it for things the author never thought of. DTrace passes this test with flying colors.

DTrace will inevitably be compared to similar systems. These include The Linux Trace Toolkit (LTT) and Dprobes. These systems may grow into something equivalent to DTrace, but at the moment they are not even close. LTT is not dynamic and has only around 45 points of instrumentation to avoid a large performance penalty. Comparing that to Dtrace:

# DTrace -l | wc -l
36110

Dprobes is much more advanced, but has problems as well. It is dynamic, but lacks some of the advanced features of the D language and is not safe. You can definitely bring down a machine with a badly written Dprobes script. It also supposedly performs poorly on multiple CPUs.

One interesting DTrace script I found is seeksize.d. This script tracks the offset value of seek requests to the discs, per process. I have never been able to see this information before and it is really quite interesting, although somewhat shocking. The script was written by Brendan Gregg, who has produced many DTrace scripts that review system information from shell use to socket statistics. [http://users.tpg.com.au/adsln4yb/dtrace.html]

seeksize.d in action

Zones
If you have used FreeBSD Jails, Solaris Zones are going to sound very familiar. They are based on the same basic concept. Both can be considered somewhat like a heavy-duty chroot. Each Zone or Jail is a virtual OS, complete with IP address, separate configuration and even a separate package DB (zones can also share a DB). Now, this may seem like exactly what UserModeLinux or Xen do, but it isn't. The difference is that all the Zones/Jails share one kernel.

In Xen or UML, the sub-machines are full OS's, kernel and all. They run on vm-like layer over the actual kernel. The advantage to this is security; it is very difficult to break out of a virtual server setup in this way. The disadvantage is speed; running all these different kernels has a large performance hit. This is why FreeBSD Jails were thought of in the first place and Sun has gone that direction with Zones.

It is theoretically possible to break out of a Jail or Zone. In fact, there have been security vulnerabilities in the past that allow processes to do just that. It is of course up to the System Administrator to balance these issues. Personally, I would rather be able to run a large number of Jails/Zones and take the minimal security risk.

Service Management Framework
SMF (The Service Management Framework) is Solaris 10's replacement for the aged sysV init. I have mixed feelings about SMF. It is definitely a step forward, but it adds a level of complexity that was not there before. The idea behind it is fairly simple and SMF can be logically split into several parts:

* Startups scripts. These are very like the normal scripts you see in every UNIX implementation
* XML manifests. This is where things get different. Every service has an XML file that holds information about the service. What other services does it depend on? What services does it not depend on, but are recommended? All these relationships and more are stored in the manifests.
* svcs. The svcs command is one of the main interfaces to SMF. It can tell you what services are started, which are stopped and even what services failed to start and why. For example, if service A depends on service B and you have stopped service B, svcs might tell you that service A has failed because service B is stopped.
* svcadm. This is the administrative tool for SMF. You can add, delete, stop and start services here.
* init. The init systems works a bit differently on Solaris 10 because of all this. If a service fails to start or crashes, it will be restarted. Also, if you stop a service that another service depends on, that service will also be stopped. Likewise, if you start a service that depends on several others, they will all be started. Also, the dependency system allows init to start multiple services in parallel.

My concern about SMF is that its not as transparent as a system like rc.d on NetBSD/FreeBSD or even the old sysV init. It is still fairly easy to understand, but there is a level of "magic" that wasn't there before. Maybe my concerns are baseless? I don't know. It will be interesting to watch how users react to the new system.

Along with new features, there have been improvements made to the general OS, many having to do with speed. Solaris has been given the nickname "Slowlaris" in the past. With Solaris 10, Sun has worked hard to make that name no longer applicable.
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Well-written? (2, Interesting)

henrik (98) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811296)

Not sure I would classify this as well-written considering the author seems to have no idea of Solaris legacy nor why for example directory hierarchy is as it is. Seems like the normal uninformed Linux-is-the-real-Unix review.

Re:Well-written? (4, Informative)

Omniscientist (806841) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811312)

However, I am a BSD user.

Yup, I'm sure he thinks Linux is the real Unix.

Re:Well-written? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811353)

Not sure I would classify this as well-written considering the author seems to have no idea of Solaris legacy

I think he meant the prose/style. But I don't consider it well-written that way either, e.g. end of first page:
With Solaris 10, Sun has worked hard to make that name no longer applicable.
Too verbose, maybe bordering on pretentious, absolutely no rhythm, etc.

Re:Well-written? (1)

quigonn (80360) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811416)

At least Linux uses a directory hierarchy that resembles more closely the _original_ directory hierarchy of Unix (and I'm talking about the real one, i.e. Unix V7) than any of the commercial Unix versions, _and_ it is well-documented (Linux FHS).

Even worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811656)

It's one of these "I'm a BSD person" types. Still uninformed, but at least they're not uninformed "Linux people". Wonderfull uninformed remarks about graphical installers, never cared to see if you can run without. Wonderfull remark about an OS that should be installable without reboot, which is nonsense, if you can do unattended aswel as attended installs you're OK who cares if it needs to reboot.

"There haven't been many reviews" (4, Funny)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811298)

You're right, in fact, a Google search for "solaris 10 review" only brings up 1,200,000 matches....

Re:"There haven't been many reviews" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811311)

How much of that is 10 year old porn?

Re:"There haven't been many reviews" (1, Funny)

MuMart (537836) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811500)

Get great deals on Solaris 10 Review!

Compare prices on Solaris 10 Review!

Enlarge your Solaris 10 Review!

Before you declare them "dead"... (4, Interesting)

davejenkins (99111) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811300)

While I wager most of the responses on this thread will be some variant on "so what, Solaris is dead", let me say that I met with a senior planner of a very large system integrator here in APAC, and he pretty much said the opposite: Solaris 10 will fill all their needs and that the whole Linux/penguin/RMS-sideshow was a distraction at this point.

Sun has spent years playing in the biggest game with the biggest boys. Their gross holdings dwarf that of Red Hat and Novell. Solaris 10 has all the core functionality that the major major banks and conservative institutions want. Sun has dedicated salespeople who know these clients for years now. Do not count them out, yet.

Sure, Solaris 10 seems like a Hail Mary, but think why the Hail Mary play is there: it works sometimes...

Re:Before you declare them "dead"... (4, Interesting)

luvirini (753157) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811341)

Indeed, one of the problems sun has is that their system and computers are "too good". A customer of ours is still running their heavily used website on a SUN from 1999. They have no plans to upgrade. Thus no need to buy new servers like you would on other types.

Re:Before you declare them "dead"... (0, Flamebait)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811373)

It's people like these that make me wanna scream.

First I doubt there were zero security patches since 1999. Second, if you have to actually develop on boxes that old it's a pain in the arse [hello, libtool is not just a "random fancy idea"].

I suppose if all you do is serve static pages then yeah a box/install from 1999 is all you need. I'm sure you don't need the latest of Gentoo to run an echo server either...

Tom

Who said it was unpatched? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811393)

And just why do you think you have to develop apps on boxes that old to run on boxes that old? Your experience with unstable operating system interfaces or monopoly pressure to upgrade?

With Solaris, as long as you're not running device drivers or going out into the esoteric reaches of POSIX conformance, you can write an app on Solaris 10 and watch it run on Solaris 2.5.

If all you're doing is running Apache, close all your ports, keep Apache patched, and you'll be secure.

I do wonder if they've closed off the syslog UDP port, though. You can fill up their root disk (or where ever they've put /var/adm/messages) if they haven't...

Re:Who said it was unpatched? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811466)

Um, I "upgrade" because the tools are better.

GCC 3.4.3 is more C99 and optimizes better than GCC 2.8.2 that most SunOS boxes I've seen come with. Why would I want to use an out of date compiler just because "it worked back then".

Libtool is meant to be a PORTABLE interface to the creation of shared/static objects...Fuck even "bash" is better now....

I'm not "forced to upgrade" I choose to. Specially given that the tools are free ... the decision isn't hard to make.

My problem with folks who use unix'es like SunOS, AIX and HPUX is that they usually don't update [or can't] and the boxes are very hard to use.

I got an AMD64... I installed gentoo using the x86_64 kernel. Whoa, a 64-bit box that I didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for... It performs very well and I get access to the latest development tools [e.g. recent GCC] ...

I'm sure there are uses for a Sun box [or Unix in general] just not sure what it is. My AMD64 box can just as easily be a web server, database server, development box or even one of those informational kiosks at the airport...

As for the uptime penis war, all a long uptime says is either you don't care for security or you're not exposed to the net [and therefore uptime doesn't matter because even a TI-82 calculator can have a 9 year uptime given enough power...]

Tom

Re:Who said it was unpatched? (1)

rcamera (517595) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811593)

even a TI-82 calculator can have a 9 year uptime given enough power

my ti83 can beat that any day. and this week alone, my ti89 has an uptime of 15 years!

Re:Before you declare them "dead"... (3, Informative)

luvirini (753157) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811396)

I am not saying they have not have updated the software or such, I was talking about the hardware.

Re:Before you declare them "dead"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811366)

So what, Solaris is dead... ;)

Re:Before you declare them "dead"... (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811577)

Very true. There are many a large company who feel, either right or wrong, that an all-in-one provider of an OS written exclusivly for the vendors own hardware is the way to go. Besides, how could anyone not love dtrace delivered with Sol10. I love linux as much as the next person, but I've always liked Solaris since the days of SunOS. They just were slow to make changes when they were needed and now they are playing some serious catch up, but they will survive I believe.

Solaris 10 runs my router (2, Interesting)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811310)

They don't go into it in the article, but Solaris has slowly begun more and more modular (kind of like NetBSD without all that pesky hardware support).

So much so, in fact, that I have several stripped down versions running as various embedded "smart" devices around the office. One is obviously the router, but others include a firewall, file server, and PBX. The best hack I've done so far with this is the Solaris 10 Roomba, but the battery life is really bad.

Solaris is great on the server, but don't discount its abilities on the small platforms!

3,780 hits for "solaris 10 review" (5, Informative)

MauMan (252382) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811318)

Google:

Results 1 - 10 of about 3,780 for "solaris 10 review".

Re:3,780 hits for "solaris 10 review" (0)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811342)

dude, I get 1,200,000!!

Re:3,780 hits for "solaris 10 review" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811355)


solaris 10 review: 1,170,000 hits.
"solaris 10 review": 3,750 hits.

huge difference there.

google cache (1)

markybob (802458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811336)

http://64.233.187.104/search?q=cache:ddKQV3C7eUEJ: madpenguin.org/cms/%3Fm%3Dshow%26id%3D3542%26page% 3D2+&hl=en&client=firefox

Mirror (2, Informative)

Professor Cool Linux (759581) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811343)

Re:Mirror (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811413)

Error: 403 Forbidden

Error when attempting to use the Coral Content Distribution Network (http://www.coralcdn.org/).

The hostname specified in the Coralized URL is currently over its hourly quota. Please try back later.

Server CoralWebPrx/0.1.12 (See http://coralcdn.org/) at 128.252.19.21:8090

Re:Mirror (0)

know1 (854868) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811426)

the mirror is slashdotted as well..

Review text... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811402)

Sun Microsystems has recently released Solaris 10. It is currently free, as in beer, and most of it is promised to be released under an OSI approved license in the second quarter of 2005. Most everyone reading this probably knows all of that. The release and subsequent open sourcing of Solaris 10 has caused quite an uproar in the Open Source community and the IT industry as a whole. Linux advocates have been fighting Solaris advocates on forums across the Internet. The zealotry and misrepresentation from both sides has been really quite impressive. However, I am a BSD user. I am not on either side and will do my best to allow neither zealotry nor misrepresentation into this review.

Please continue reading after you have stopped laughing.

All political issues aside, Solaris 10 is a very impressive OS. It has some features no other operating system can claim and some that are not necessarily new, but have been implemented in an excellent way. This is not to say it is perfect. There are definitely things I dislike and areas that seem quite unpolished.

One of those aforementioned unpolished areas is the installation routine. It can be assumed that Solaris will not be installed by a novice. Even so, the Solaris install is painful and brings with it memories of Windows 2000 installs of old. This is not because its difficult, it is not. The installation is simply unwieldy. My main complaints are the following:

* You must partition, install a small base system and reboot to finish the install. I expect an OS to be installable without a reboot.
* For the first section of the install there is a web browser in the background, but for unknown reasons there is no browser in the second section.
* You have to switch CD's during the install, which is fine, but you can't just switch and walk away. You have to wait for it to read the CD and display another screen and then press next. There is probably a reason for this, but I just find it annoying.

Issues like these make the installation routine seem unfinished and just don't fit with the overall quality of the OS.

Upon booting Solaris for the first time, you are greeted by dtlogin. This is the default graphical login manager for Solaris and plainly has CDE roots. At this point, there is a drop-down menu in which you can choose to go back to a console login or choose which wm/dm to enter, both CDE and JDS3 are options. I am sure CDE has many great features and I know that some people love it. However, I am not one of them. JDS3 on the other hand is a nicely polished GNOME desktop. The theme and general feel is much improved over Sun's earlier versions. Nothing is very remarkable about JDS3, except network browsing. I have never seen any GNOME desktop do as well with windows and NIX network browsing.

There are things I dislike about JDS. As a media player, Sun has chosen the "Java Media Player." This program has no redeeming factors. XMMS or Rhythmbox would be much better choices. They also tapped Mozilla to be the web browser, not Firefox. With FF gaining more and more attention, this choice makes very little sense to me. However, those are my only complaints about JDS3 and they are small ones.

Nobody is considering Solaris 10 because of JDS3 or its installation routine. They are looking at it because of new features like DTrace, Zones and the new Service Management Framework. Indeed, it has been quite awhile since we have seen a release of any OS with as many large features as Solaris 10.

DTrace
One of the main new features in Solaris 10 is DTrace, a dynamic instrumentation system. DTrace consists of a scripting language, named D (not to be confused with the fledgling D Programming Language), and loadable kernel modules named "providers." When called upon, these "providers" track and report system information. DTrace has several features that separate it from other similar systems:

* It is dynamic. DTrace has no effect on system performance when not in use. Only those providers that are needed by a particular command are loaded and used. This means if you want to collect data on the scheduler, DTrace will not be collecting data on the IO system as well. This greatly improves performance over those systems that collect a huge amount of unneeded data.
* It can instrument both the kernel-level and user-level.
* It is safe. DTrace will not allow you to damage the system through its use. Some may find the idea of anything being "totally safe" rather amusing. However, this appears to be true. Time will tell if it holds up, but for the moment I have no evidence to the contrary.
* It is adaptable. DTrace really is more a scripting language then it is a tool like truss or top. This has its downside and upside. The disadvantage is that it is not a small thing to learn. Most will probably never use DTrace directly, but instead use programs written in D. There are already some of these and there will eventually be many more. The advantage to this is that its not limited like top or truss. Supposedly the test of a well-designed program is that people use it for things the author never thought of. DTrace passes this test with flying colors.

DTrace will inevitably be compared to similar systems. These include The Linux Trace Toolkit (LTT) and Dprobes. These systems may grow into something equivalent to DTrace, but at the moment they are not even close. LTT is not dynamic and has only around 45 points of instrumentation to avoid a large performance penalty. Comparing that to Dtrace:

# DTrace -l | wc -l
36110

Dprobes is much more advanced, but has problems as well. It is dynamic, but lacks some of the advanced features of the D language and is not safe. You can definitely bring down a machine with a badly written Dprobes script. It also supposedly performs poorly on multiple CPUs.

One interesting DTrace script I found is seeksize.d. This script tracks the offset value of seek requests to the discs, per process. I have never been able to see this information before and it is really quite interesting, although somewhat shocking. The script was written by Brendan Gregg, who has produced many DTrace scripts that review system information from shell use to socket statistics. [http://users.tpg.com.au/adsln4yb/dtrace.html]

seeksize.d in action

Zones
If you have used FreeBSD Jails, Solaris Zones are going to sound very familiar. They are based on the same basic concept. Both can be considered somewhat like a heavy-duty chroot. Each Zone or Jail is a virtual OS, complete with IP address, separate configuration and even a separate package DB (zones can also share a DB). Now, this may seem like exactly what UserModeLinux or Xen do, but it isn't. The difference is that all the Zones/Jails share one kernel.

In Xen or UML, the sub-machines are full OS's, kernel and all. They run on vm-like layer over the actual kernel. The advantage to this is security; it is very difficult to break out of a virtual server setup in this way. The disadvantage is speed; running all these different kernels has a large performance hit. This is why FreeBSD Jails were thought of in the first place and Sun has gone that direction with Zones.

It is theoretically possible to break out of a Jail or Zone. In fact, there have been security vulnerabilities in the past that allow processes to do just that. It is of course up to the System Administrator to balance these issues. Personally, I would rather be able to run a large number of Jails/Zones and take the minimal security risk.

Service Management Framework
SMF (The Service Management Framework) is Solaris 10's replacement for the aged sysV init. I have mixed feelings about SMF. It is definitely a step forward, but it adds a level of complexity that was not there before. The idea behind it is fairly simple and SMF can be logically split into several parts:

* Startups scripts. These are very like the normal scripts you see in every UNIX implementation
* XML manifests. This is where things get different. Every service has an XML file that holds information about the service. What other services does it depend on? What services does it not depend on, but are recommended? All these relationships and more are stored in the manifests.
* svcs. The svcs command is one of the main interfaces to SMF. It can tell you what services are started, which are stopped and even what services failed to start and why. For example, if service A depends on service B and you have stopped service B, svcs might tell you that service A has failed because service B is stopped.
* svcadm. This is the administrative tool for SMF. You can add, delete, stop and start services here.
* init. The init systems works a bit differently on Solaris 10 because of all this. If a service fails to start or crashes, it will be restarted. Also, if you stop a service that another service depends on, that service will also be stopped. Likewise, if you start a service that depends on several others, they will all be started. Also, the dependency system allows init to start multiple services in parallel.

My concern about SMF is that its not as transparent as a system like rc.d on NetBSD/FreeBSD or even the old sysV init. It is still fairly easy to understand, but there is a level of "magic" that wasn't there before. Maybe my concerns are baseless? I don't know. It will be interesting to watch how users react to the new system.

Along with new features, there have been improvements made to the general OS, many having to do with speed. Solaris has been given the nickname "Slowlaris" in the past. With Solaris 10, Sun has worked hard to make that name no longer applicable.

One of the areas where Solaris needed improvement was the network stack. I have no experience with it personally, but apparently the old version was not a great performer, especially on multiple CPUs. Sun has decided to fix this Old-Testament style. Solaris 10 features an entirely new stack named FireEngine. Built to improve performance and prepare for future networking technology (faster Ethernet), FireEngine includes some very interesting threading technology that should reduce resource contention. [3]

Another improvement to Solaris is the X86 support. Solaris has supported this architecture before, but both speed and stability were sorely lacking. This has changed with Solaris 10. All the machines I installed Solaris 10 on were X86 and, besides the obvious sparse driver support, it worked very well. With Sun committing to the AMD Opteron (an X86-like platform), the opening of Solaris and the energy Sun has appeared to expend on making X86 a "tier 1" platform, it can be safely assumed that support for this architecture isn't going to be disappearing.

The experience of actually using Solaris 10 as a day-to-day OS is rather interesting. I installed and used 3 versions of Solaris 10, two betas and the final. I tested them on my laptop, but mostly used them on my desktop machine. The features of Solaris 10 make it sound like the long lost brother of sliced bread and, to some extent, I found this to be correct. Solaris 10 can do things no other OS can and its very fast. However, there are some significant hurdles to using Solaris when you come from Linux or BSD. It is very different. This cannot be repeated enough. If you have ever made the switch from Linux to BSD or the other way, you know how little differences can really make it difficult. In Solaris, the differences are not little.

The first time I booted Solaris, I was a bit worried. It was quite a slow boot. I had to use this thing while reviewing it and as I watched the login prompt finally appear, I was starting to wonder if I was going to need a book while Mozilla started. They have fixed this in the final release, but I needn't have worried at the time either. The Solaris boot may have been slow, but thats the only element of the system were that word applied.

I have yet to see a set of benchmarks that everyone likes and I don't have any skill in that area to begin with. Therefore, I won't be attempting to give the good reader numbers on Solaris 10's speed. Suffice to say that you cannot use the OS as a desktop without noticing it. Mozilla starts fast, GNOME is snappy and and I had at least 5 things compiling while listening to music with no skipping.

This does not mean all users will find Solaris 10 the gift from god it is sometimes portrayed as. There are many differences when coming from other NIX. Some are very minor and some are very not. These differences range from the purely personally unsettling to build breaking, linker error making monsters from hell.

The first difference you will notice is that the default shell is the Bourne shell. Not bash, but the POSIX Bourne shell. Coming from BSD, this wasn't so shocking. The total lack of a /root directory was rather shocking, but even that could be understood fairly readily. What I kept coming up against though, was how many places things were installed. The BSD tools are installed in /usr/ucb, the GNU tools in /usr/sfw, Solaris development tools in /usr/ccs, /usr/X11 contains Xorg and /usr/X contains openwin. These are just examples, there are many more. I am not saying this is a bad thing, but balancing your PATH that much takes getting used to.

Something else you may notice, is an almost total lack of audio drivers. While I am willing to forgive Solaris for not having a lot of drivers for X86 because of its youth, the total lack of support in this area is too glaring to not mention. The Open Sound System supports Solaris and works very well, but this must be addressed at some point. X86 Solaris users should not be forced to go to 4Front to get audio support.

While I am on the subject of drivers, I should mention that hardware support on X86 is not great. I am convinced this will improve, but for the moment I would only use Solaris 10 on very common hardware. As for laptops, its not ready yet. The version of Solaris released to the public does not include wireless support. However, I gather from the Sun blogs that an internal build now does include wireless drivers, so this should not be a permanent problem.

A developer will notice other differences with Solaris. While some Open Source software will choke on BSD or even some Linux distributions, a large number will blow a fuse on Solaris. Some just require little tweaks to get working, while others require trench warfare. Both NetBSD's pkgsrc and the Blastwave (www.blastwave.org) software distribution help to make this tolerable. With the coming OpenSolaris, I expect this to improve as they attract more developers.

Speaking of developers, there are many goodies hidden in Solaris 10 that may lure them over. Obviously, DTrace has the potential to greatly help developers, but there are other utilities that are also very useful. One thing I found while looking for a Solaris alternative to valgrind was mdb and libumem. Mdb is the Solaris Modular Debugger and is exactly what it sounds like. Libumem is a user-land slab allocator[4] introduced in Solaris 9. What is interesting is that these two tools work together. [5]

This is how it works. The developer compiles his/her code like normal, but instead of executing it with a debugger s/he sets some environment variables:

UMEM_DEBUG=default
UMEM_LOGGING=transaction
LD_PRELOAD=libumem.so.1

then executes the code. The developer tests it out like normal, but then opens up another terminal, uses gcore to to get a core dump of the program and uses MDB to examine the core dump. MDB will then let you find memory leaks, browse stacks, find corrupt buffers and even double frees. More info about libumem and MDB is available here: http://access1.sun.com/techarticles/libumem.html

There are many little tools like this hidden all over Solaris. The pTools are another prime example of this. These are a set of utilities that extract information from the /proc file system. Among other things, these tools include:

* prstat: a replacement for top
* pldd: prints the dynamic libs linked into running processes (including those added with dlopen)
* pwdx: prints the cwd of the given process
* pstop: stops the given process
* prun: the reverse of pstop

There is also the Solaris Management Console, a "toolbox" of administration utilities such as user management, patch management and performance monitoring. There are too many of these little utilities and small features hidden throughout the system to mention or simply find.
In conclusion...
Solaris 10 is a rather amazing OS. I learn quickly, but I was hard pressed to even tap the surface of Solaris. It is very fast, has new features that are revolutionary and old features that are not very well known, but deserve to be. Its hardware support could, and I think will, be improved, some software will be difficult to compile and it can be difficult to use at times when coming from other NIX. However, any relatively knowledgeable user should give it a shot. You may be impressed.

Re:Review text... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811436)

I would also point out that Solaris is not and has never ment to be for home PC's. As for the install in any good enviroment you will have a jumpstart server and never have to go through the install with cd's.

Rootkit? (5, Informative)

puke76 (775195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811419)

Ah, Solaris 10, the rootkit writers friend. [www.ccc.de]

Re:Rootkit? (1)

un1xl0ser (575642) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811442)

This is interesting. Mod up. :-)

Re:Rootkit? (3, Informative)

thogard (43403) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811595)

But he didn't even play arround with the new services database. What a bummer even though his code is much better than the service db stuff I've seen.

A lesson from Microsoft...
Don't keep boot status info in a binary file that also can start programs.
You can't tell if its been hacked without rebuilding it and you can't rebuild it with ease. The new services stuff for Solaris 10 is sort of a mix between init, inetd, cron and the windows registry. This is wrong and someone at sun needs to fix it now.

Suggestion: Run security scans against it... (2, Informative)

Spoing (152917) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811433)

Go and install Solaris 10. Use an external machine and run nmap followed by Nessus targeting your new Solaris system. Use the defaults for everything (Solaris, nmap, and Nessus).

Interesting, eh?

Note: If you don't have access to a Nessus server or Linux, you can use almost any machine to run a scan yourself. Here's a simplified version of what to do;

1. Get Knoppix and boot it; http://knoppix.org

2. When the desktop appears, run the Nessus server;

'Start' (the K in the lower left)

System (note _DO_NOT_ use the Nessus on this menu yet!)

Security

Nessus

3. Wait. This will take a few minutes and you may not see anything. If you want to be sure, come back in 5 minutes.

4. Run the Nessus client;

K

System

Nessus (note _NOT_ the one under the Security menu)

5. The username should be knoppix.

6. The password field should be blank. Enter knoppix for the password.

7. Select the Target tab. Put in the IP address or DNS name of the target machine.

8. Start scanning. Keep in mind that any firewalls or NAT devices between you and the target machine may give back bad results.

Max Open files (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811445)

And you still cannot open more than 255 files at once using fopen or tmpfile or popen. How useless is that ?
Even if you open 2000 files with 'open', the next fopen or popen fails.

The docs say fixed in 64-bit apps only, but this is a stupid limit for 32-bit apps !

Virtual Machines (1)

rf0 (159958) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811449)

I can't read the artical as its /. but on thing that Sol 10 (and FreeBSD) can do out of the box is to split the host machine up into multiple smaller machiens using Zones (or jails). This means you can have seperate virtual machines on each machine so you can test things safely without having to keep reloading the OS

Rus

Define Virtual Machines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811565)

As far as I know, the defintion of virtual machines is all over the map. I doubt that you can run different OSes in each Zone so I suspect that Sun is using a different definition than IBM.

How can you argue with this? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811468)

The most interesting thing about Linux, aside from the social movement aspect, is the fact that it is the first Unix to run on x86. So we put Solaris on the x86. Now we have well over a million licenses of Solaris running on Intel and on the AMD Opteron.

- Jonathan Schwartz, President and Chief Operating Officer, Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Wow, for some reason that's not the kind of well informed opinion I'd want to be hearing from the company I'm buying a unix solution from.

Re:How can you argue with this? (1)

perlow (451482) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811643)

Actually, the first UNIX to run on an x86 platform was SCO XENIX, way, way back in the early 80s. SCO also delivered the first 32-bit Unix to run on a 386 chip as well.

More drivel (5, Interesting)

nemaispuke (624303) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811483)

I read this "review" when it showed up on OSNews and thought "yet another Linux/BSD/whatever user attempts to use Solaris and fails". Everybody seems to focus on what Sun is pimping (DTrace, Zones, Predictive Self Healing), what about actually using the OS?

I have been using (and beta testing) Solaris 10 since August 2003, and there is a lot more to it than DTrace, Zones, and Predictive Self Healing. There are several password security improvements, a new installation metacluster (Reduced Networking Support), a new installation method (WAN Boot), the ability to wrap RPC connections so that connections get logged (TCP Wrappers). And so you don't have to download a ton of software, GCC, gmake, webmin, GIMP, and other tools are part of the Full Distribution installation.

The problem with "reviews" is trying to meet the insaitable demand for "information" and not actually providing anything other than a rehash of publicity materials. How about everybody being paitient and hold off for a "quality" review.

There's another review at Network World (nwfusion) (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811493)

It's short, but sweet. http://www.nwfusion.com/reviews/2005/022805solaris test.html is the link.

comphrehensive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811502)

Your definition of comphrehensive review of Solaris 10 and mine differ greatly.

Good review? (2, Insightful)

hrbrmstr (324215) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811536)

*That* was a comprehensive and well-written review? Bah!

Perhaps timothy should have read it before taking the poster's word.

struggling with solaris 10 for the last week (4, Informative)

nachumk (863725) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811544)

My own background: Written linux and Windows NT/XP drivers, and I have set up many linux (mostly debian) and windows workstatiosn

i have been assigned the job of writing my company's pci card driver for solaris 9, and for this purpose i was given an old ultrasparc IIe sparc workstation with solaris 9. After a bit of frustration with trying to setup paths for root, and login shells, and patches, and packages. I decided to just clean install solaris 10. After downloading 5 cds (not including documentation cd) from solaris, I proceeded to install the system.

Installation:
partitioning wizard sucks. defaults are fine, but if you want to change it, then it is just unpleasant.

network setup : it doesn't request a Hostname, and for the life of my system, I have hostname unknown. No big deal, except for a few errors that it prints. I have looked at sun's site, and the recommended way of changing this is sys-unconfig - with a few changes to dhcpagent in /etc/default. but that doesn't work. And i didn't feel like going like going through cartwheels changing the large number of files required to do this manually.

Configuration:
I loaded up root's profile using the Java Desktop Environment (JDE). Nice looking. But it has no link to the Sun Management Console (SMC). I looked through all the menus and I couldn't figure out how to graphically (in the solaris way) add users. Of course I could've used useradd, but i really wanted to configure the system in the solaris prescribed manner. If you use Common Desktop Environment (CDE), then you do have a link to SMC. I had to run smc from console, and then I was able to set up users.

I wanted to change root's shell from /bin/sh to bash. I tried this using the SMC, but that gave me an error, so I ended up having to do this from /etc/passwd.

I installed the solaris 10 with a full (COMPLETE) install. Yet when I look for emacs either in the JDE menus or via the a call to emacs from the terminal, i get nothing. to get emacs and a large number of the other programs including gcc ld vim ... to work, you have to set up the PATHs manually. I did this via /etc/profile, although I was surprised that none of this was already done. As there was no word on what the proper PATH should be I had to guess a bit, and finally found what I wanted:
PATH=/opt/sfw/bin:/usr/sfw/bin:/opt/csw/b in:/usr/c cs/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin

emacs and gcc are in /opt/sfw/bin/
ld is in /usr/ccs/bin/
wget is in /usr/sfw/bin/
i installed the package pkg-get, and that went into /opt/csw/bin/pkg-get

If you run the SMC, and you try to add patches, it won't work, it says something about installing patch pro manager. You can't install that b/c it is not on the website, it only lists patch pro for solaris 8 and 9. I finally found that in Solaris 10, the patch manager comes built in, not that there is some easy way to know this. you must run pprosvc.

Driver writing:
I did a full install of solaris, yet I didn't get the program cc, and since all of their driver tutorials refer to using cc, this created some issues for me. (cc is installed with Sun Studio). I switched to gcc, but gcc doesn't accept the same parameters as cc, but i found out after lots of wasted time, that cc -xarch=v9 is equivalent to gcc -m64 -mcpu=v9. of course you can't use the ld from gnu, you have to use solaris's ld to link.

I am now struggling to get some automatic dev links to be created in solaris, and as with everything else that I have encountered under this OS, it is being extremely painful.

I can say one thing for Solaris 10, and that is that the JDE look great. (although it doesn't have links to the apps that I installed, and is missing the SMC). Visually wise it is nicer looking than some other windowing environments I have seen, as is much better looking than CDE

nachum

Yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11811590)

Where I work at we have very good support from SUN. I got the CD's and tried to install.... man that SUCKS! No more stick it and come back later, it requires being baby-sat. Toxic waste comes to mind. Far worse than ANY Linux distro I have tried. It didn't even install correctly to boot.

Ok, so now I have a machine with all their new block buster stuff on it. They hype was worse than Microsoft for Windows XP, 2000, 2003, even the legendary NT (legendary hype for NT). It is the same old OS with a few new things that you will probably never use. They also still sell licenses so it is "open" but still not free.

Save your time, it isn't worth the 4 hours to load a machine and look at unless you have nothing better to do. I'm so dissapointed I'm decomissioning SUN's as I type this, going to RedHat Linux on commodity hardware. So far the new machine kicks my (fully loaded) 15K's ass down the street with just 4 processors.

The SUN is setting.

more stuff (3, Informative)

alsta (9424) | more than 9 years ago | (#11811621)

Some good resources for Solaris X86 extras and tinkering;

http://www.bolthole.com/solaris/x86.html

http://www.solaris-x86.org

The author said that he was forced to use OSS to get sound to work. There are open source drivers for Solaris as well and they work pretty well. Note that they're compiled for Solaris 9, but they still work with Solaris 10.

http://www.tools.de/solaris/audio/
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