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OpenSolaris-based OSes a Threat to Linux? 92

Posted by Cliff
from the probably-not-the-more-the-merrier dept.
sunBoy asks: "A number of OpenSolaris-based Operating Systems are popping up on the map. BeleniX (screenshots), SchilliX and Nexenta (screenshots) are a few OSes which have hit the headlines in the past couple of weeks. Some say OpenSolaris has a leg up on Linux - 'For Linux, we're trying to push many distributions through to compress them into a standard. With OpenSolaris, we are already at the small end of standardization. What will follow is more OpenSolaris distributions spreading out from that core.' Is OpenSolaris really a threat to Linux?" Less of a threat and more of an alternative. Would more Unix-based alternatives on the market really be a bad thing?
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OpenSolaris-based OSes a Threat to Linux?

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  • by davecb (6526) * <davec-b@rogers.com> on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @05:26PM (#13992991) Homepage Journal
    Linux and BSD should compete head to head with Solaris for stuff that matters to nerds, like quality, scalability, performance and so on.

    Companies can do the competing over money.

    --dave (who works for a conpany and definitely likes money (:-)) c-b

    • Agreed, and I, for one welcome the new competition.

      And no, OpenSolaris will never de-throne Linux -- at least not without a lot of money and time....

      Linux has several things on its side:
      More users in general
      More fanatical users, that do things "for the love of the code"
      More software (OK, most things are ported/portable, but much more software is "first tier" on Linux)
      More momentum
      More installations
      More documentation
      • by Anonymous Coward
        The freedom point is debatable to the end of time (BSD vs. GPL, blah blah blah), but one thing isn't: documentation. There are excellent books like Solaris Internals, plus docs.sun.com, plus, now, Sun's source code, that just put the scrap pile of Linux FAQs and man/info pages to shame. The reason: Sun for years has written their docs to an audience of $15/hour intern sysadmins, who need a checklist or list of steps immediately to get tasks done. Their set of manuals for Solaris is _enormous_. And it
      • I rather doubt that Linux has more commercial software available for it than Solaris. The reality is that much more commercial software is 1st tier on Solaris than Linux.
  • heh (Score:3, Funny)

    by elmegil (12001) * on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @05:29PM (#13993011) Homepage Journal
    Would more Unix-based alternatives on the market really be a bad thing?

    You must be new here. Sun is evil, don'tcha know.

    BTW, for any CLUELESS MODS yes, I know who Cliff is.

  • I think it could well become not jsut Linux and linux distros, but Unix variants and the distros of the variants.
  • by ubiquitin (28396) * on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @05:32PM (#13993039) Homepage Journal
    Look SunBoy, even Solaris incorporated GNOME so that Sun wouldn't have to build out their own desktop software. You can't be serious about the GNU-Free-World all of a sudden capitulating after more than a decade to just decide that for a few minor improvements that they would rather work on top of an OS by Sun, open or not.

    Totally appropriate that the fortune cookie that came up on the bottom of that story's page is:
    "I am not sure what this is, but an `F' would only dignify it."

    • The reason I didn't run Solaris earlier was that it costed money, but that one is gone. I don't mind that much if it's free or not, I won't look in the code anyway, but even if I did it (more or less) will be free anyway so that's not a reason either. Only intresting question if it's better for my usage or not.
    • Hum, so you discount the rather large contribution that Sun make and has made to Gnome. Or for that matter the huge investment that Sun has put into OpenOffice/StarOffice one of the prime candidates to run in that desktop environment.
  • by twilight30 (84644) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @05:34PM (#13993058) Homepage
    Is there anyone who honestly believes that OSDir.com provides any service of any use whatsoever? Christ, it's the same set of 60-80 screenshots of the same window managers and office apps, just using different themes.

    They could just make up the names of the themes and distros used and no one would notice the frigging difference...
    • Gotta love the title!
    • I don't think the service is totally useless, just pointlessly overkill with a stupid navigation system.

      All we need are a few screenies of the install system, couple pointing out the features of any sort of package management, some more pointing out administrative features of note, and perhaps half a dozen detailing the main interface (which is likely to be an X desktop of some kind).
      20 in total would be more than enough, with a navigation system that works.
  • by aminorex (141494) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @05:39PM (#13993109) Homepage Journal
    The fitness race has already picked a winner, IMHO: Solaris kernel with Debian user-space
    and a mixed KDE/Gnome desktop. It's just a question of how long it will take for the market
    to find this global optimum, via stochastic walk.
  • OpenSolaris is an occasionally amusing diversion, like Hurd or Darwin. Sure, it has a small band of fanatics who're pushing it like crazy, but it'll never reach the serious computing crowd.
    • That is because the Serious coumputing crowd is already using Solaris :)
      • That is because the Serious coumputing crowd is already using Solaris :)

        No, we dropped the Solaris boxes for Linux awhile ago (and haven't looked back).
    • Re:Not really. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FidelCatsro (861135) *
      Well Hurd has RMS(and a fair few others) and he is a one man Army of fanatics in and of himself , will have to wait and see how HURD comes along (eventually) .
      As for Darwin well I am sure Apple and OS X users may disagree there
  • Well, yeah... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wbren (682133) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @05:48PM (#13993179) Homepage
    Less of a threat and more of an alternative. Would more Unix-based alternatives on the market really be a bad thing?
    Well yeah, more alternatives might be a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. One of my biggest gripes with Linux in particular is the abundance of distributions. While it's sometimes handy to have a distribution tailored to different groups of users, it is a pain to support and use.

    I know every distribution wants to be unique and innovative, but why do we need so many different package managers, for example. I don't want 20 different text editors in my accessories menu; I want one that does the job really well. The same thing goes for distributions. I want one that does everything well. It would make users' lives easier and much less confusing. Hell, there isn't even a standard windows manager in use today. Come on people, if we ever hope to make Linux popular, it has to be standard, in every way possible. It needs a standard look and feel. It needs standard applications and protocols for installing programs. The way things look now, it won't be standard anytime soon. I know this article is about UNIX, but I think the same idea applies.
    • Windows has succeeded without a standard way to install programs, a standard way to uninstall programs (though progress has been made on this front), and without a standard text editor.

      Now, this doesn't necessarily dispute your claim. What Linux needs may be substantially different to what Windows needs. But still.
      • Windows has succeeded without a standard way to install programs,

        Windows Installer. Some third-parties use other systems, sure, but it's still the standard. I suppose you also think the SI units aren't standard, because the US public insists on using pounds and inches?

        a standard way to uninstall programs (though progress has been made on this front),

        Um, Add/Remove Programs is the standard way to uninstall programs and has been since Windows 98 or so. Again, the fact that a few badly-behaved programs don't
        • Well, if you say Windows installer, couldn't you also say RPM is the standard because it is part of the linux filesystem standard? Over 99% of the applications I install (on Ubuntu), I just grab from the central repository. Compare this to Windows. Some have a nice installer, though not necessarily the Windows installer. Others require unpacking and _then_ running. etc. etc.

          The uninstall procedures are indeed more standardised, any counterarguments would simply be the occasional program that refuses to
          • Well, if you say Windows installer, couldn't you also say RPM is the standard because it is part of the linux filesystem standard?
            No, it isn't standard. Simple. It's popular, but it isn't a standard by any stretch of the word. It's just one of many package management systems. Also, I really dislike the idea of a "central repository". That's just my preference, I know, but I thought I'd throw it in :-)
            • I'm not sure I can agree with you here. LSB [linuxbase.org] specifies RPM as the standard.

              In the end, I find a central repository incredibly convenient when I am an end-user. When I am a developer (that is, developing my own software), the central repository is a pain in the behind.
    • I don't want 20 different text editors in my accessories menu; I want one that does the job really well.

      So... Emacs or VIm?

      Which is it gonna be?
    • I think there is a limit on how much standardisation I'd like to see. Text editors, for instance, should be a matter of choice - just think of the vi vs emacs debate/war. Likewise I have no problem with desktop managers and other software remaining a matter of choice.

      However at some lower level system aspects, I think more standardisation would definitely improve the appeal of the open source operating systems. The two aspects that instantly spring to mind are file system layout and installation packagin
    • Youre right.

      Think of Solaris in this regard. One window system with one window manager (2 recently).

      You make an app, you know it'll work on all the workstations and servers out there. The paths are the same, the tools are the same, API, interfaces you name it. The kernel is the same one everywhere and nothing needs recompiling because of the uniformity.

      Now think of Linux. "Linux" has lost its meaning apart from the kernel because the distros are so disparate. Will it run on slackware? Will it show in a wind
    • Just like the flamewars a few days ago about consistant abi's and api's for drivers, the problem is mute with solaris.

      Solaris has a consistant stable abi and api's for drivers. Things like Linux which is why unix ISV's prefer solaris. Oracle infact has a script that refuses to run itself if RHEA3 is modified in anyway. Its a serious problem but Sun cares about software being reliable and consistant for closed source vendors. Something Linus and RMS do not care about as they view Linux as ideology only.
  • Lets wait... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OneFix at Work (684397) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @06:05PM (#13993331)
    Lets just wait till there's a major distributor (besides Sun) that offers support for OpenSolaris...

    What you say? Sun won't even offer commercial support for OpenSolaris?

    So, you can't get support for any OpenSolaris distro from a major vendor...yea, I can see how it may have the upper hand here...

    Till I can find at least 2 major distributors that offer commercial support for OpenSolaris, I wouldn't count on it being anymore than an interesting project.

    You can bet that Sun is gonna make sure that any commecrial support from other companies comes through Solaris and not OpenSolaris...
    • Just run Solaris and you'll get support, simple as that, I'm told it's cheaper than RedHat to.
      • You know that's true, as a matter of fact, Sun changed their pricing a while back to be more competitive with RedHat [zdnet.co.uk]...but you notice who is changing their strategy here? Sun...

        Yea, Solaris might be cheaper on paper, but there's gonna be more problems running it on just any hardware...not so with RedHat...And you can bet that if you are running Solaris on a competitors machine, the fingers are gonna point to hardware whenever there's a problem...

        Besides, Sun support sucks...about half the time when I call
  • More like BSD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by duffbeer703 (177751) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @06:08PM (#13993358)
    OpenSolaris will be more like the *BSDs, since the core is controlled by one organization and will dictate architectural things. (And avoid the bickering and bullshit that often hinders Linux development)

    Competition is a good thing. If OpenSolaris takes marketshare from Linux, the end result will be a better Solaris and a better Linux.
    • OpenSolaris will be more like the *BSDs, since the core is controlled by one organization and will dictate architectural things. (And avoid the bickering and bullshit that often hinders Linux development)

      There is one crucial difference: the restrictive Solaris license that is designed to keep Sun entirely in control. With a *BSD you can fork, and that has happened on occasion.

      • The CDDL license does not prevent you from forking; it's a derivative of MPL, with the addition of choice of venue and some "patent peace" provisions.

        (Of course, and like the *BSDs, if you choose to fork, you need to build your own core team that shares the principles that caused the fork...)
  • by andyross (48228) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @06:10PM (#13993383)
    As much as I think a Solaris-based free unix would be a good thing, OpenSolaris just isn't there yet. Linux has long since cross the threshold where a typical user (an enthusiast perhaps, but not a hacker) can drop a CD into a typical desktop machine and get a working, internet-connected workstation. OpenSolaris isn't even close yet.

    The immediate problem is a sad lack of drivers for very common hardware that Sun has never shipped, like wireless networking (an Atheros driver just went into their tree a few weeks back; I believe that's the only one so far), ACPI power management, etc... Solaris has always been an OS for servers and managed workstations, so there are big holes in the coverage for "consumer" devices and laptop hardware.

    Note that Sun itself has no "OpenSolaris" distribution you can download, only a source tree. The void has been filled heretofore by hand-cooked distros like SchilliX and BeleniX, which are roughly analagous to early linux distros like SLS and Slackware -- no (or minimal) package management, no exhaustive software selection, etc... Just a bare machine with a userspace into which you can compile your own stuff.

    Nexenta looks promising, being an attempt to port the Debian (i.e. GNU, not Solaris) userspace onto the OpenSolaris kernel. I haven't tried it so I'll withhold judgement. But honestly, it's got a long way to go. Note that the existing linux desktops tend to rely on the hotplug/udev/hal/dbus architecture for much of their hardware interface, and none of this exists on Solaris to my knowlege. Someone will have to port it.

    Honestly, at the moment OpenSolaris advocates would be better advised to spend time writing drivers and packaging a distro than submitting flame wars to slashdot. The world has lots of space for another free unix, but it needs to catch up before puffing about itself as "Linux killer".

    • Linux has long since cross the threshold where a typical user (an enthusiast perhaps, but not a hacker) can drop a CD into a typical desktop machine and get a working, internet-connected workstation. OpenSolaris isn't even close yet.

      There's the BeleniX LiveCD [sarovar.org] which includes a Gnome desktop. Drop it into a typical desktop machine and get a working, Internet-connected workstation.

      It Pays To Read The Article! Yay!

      • It Pays To Read The Article! Yay!

        Yes, but alas: apparently it doesn't pay as well as responding to the second sentence of a post out of context and ignoring all the expository text that followed it. Yes, very lucrative. Yay.

        Flame on, I guess. Rah rah. Slowlaris is teh sux0rs. Thbbt.

      • There's the BeleniX LiveCD which includes a Gnome desktop. Drop it into a typical desktop machine and get a working, Internet-connected workstation.

        I might try it if I could download it. Their HTTP link gives me 1.2KB/s, and the torrents are fscked (they tell me 'my client is spoofing' - which it's not.)
    • Um, you might want to check out www.blastwave.org
    • Go read the previous story a few days ago about Linux lacking a api for kernel drivers and a consistant abi?

      Solaris just works. The drivers just work. Things have models and solaris is well tested. Linux used to be stable but its ideology about having to be opensource is hurting it and preventing many stable third party drivers.

      Solarisx86 works and you can install and compile packages off the net and they will magically work too! In linux they are all incompatible with each other and you need to use apt_get
  • by bernywork (57298) * <bstapleton@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @06:12PM (#13993397) Journal
    Why would I go for OpenSolaris? What benefits do I get as an end user? (Lets just run with this as a theory for a second)

    I don't have the packages that are developed for Linux, there isn't any major "killer app" out there to make me want to switch. Really at the end of the day, what's the REALLY big bonus to running OpenSolaris now?

    This is the question that I pose to you all here, this is the same question that a lot of IT Managers ask about Linux when comparing it to Microsoft Windows, but we have a few answers to that question.

    Admittedly if you are a 100% Solaris shop (Solaris SysAdmin for example who wants to run Solaris on his 3Ghz P4 that sits under his desk) then you might consider it. There isn't a community around this to support it yet either.

    One thing that could turn up would be application support from vendors that currently don't support Linux. If that turns up, then things could heat up.

    I know it's early days, and choices are great, but Linux I think has filled that void. There are how many Linux distributions out there now? Do we really need 400 Solaris kerneled distributions out there?

    I know this sounds like a FUD session, but I don't want it to be. Just trying to encourage some comments.

    Anyway enough ranting, what do you guys think?

    • I don't have the packages that are developed for Linux, there isn't any major "killer app" out there to make me want to switch.

      The killer app is the kernel itself and its supported utilities. Solaris is very mature and robust, and being able to learn more about its internals and contribute back to the code for future releases by Sun is a good thing. Look at Linux, and to a lesser degree, BSD. Linux is more interesting IMHO because of its development process and the fact that big commercial players have j
      • Its nuts, everything from 16bit to 64bit CPUs, SMP and NUMA boxes, all the way to some of the most powerful computers in the world.

        Solaris / Old School Unix (Lets face it, Solaris is still pretty true to it's system V roots) hasn't been ported, admittedly it's not the "hobbiest" OS that Linux is, and therefore hasn't been ported (I was tempted to put in a YET there). But at the same time, I think Linux has filled this void very very well, the hobbiest style people are now getting supplemented by the large c
  • the more people moving to any Open OS should be helpful to any other open OS. more people, more developers, more applications, more open source that can usually build/run on many other platforms (sometimes with a little effort) i really dont think the guy talking about standards gets it ;) one of the main reasons people goto linux is for alternatives i do think it is pretty cheesy how so many distributions lately just repackage debian and slap their name on it and start charging for it claiming it looks l
  • I'd like to hear from the people who've seen the code, but I suspect the solaris kernel is a bloated somewhat krufty collection of code that hackers won't want to touch or improve. That means it won't have the rapid development, driver support, general hackability of the Linux kernel. The Linux code is now big, but it is well sorted and continually being refined.

  • I'm a Linux zealot, but more OSS competition is good.
  • Sun's CDDL isn't GPL-compatible. I'm not a diehard GPL fan (I think BSD is also pretty spiffy), but a lot of the most talented developers are. In short, I doubt that they'll ever get much of a mindshare among would-be helpers - certainly not enough to unseat Linux.

    Competition is great and I welcome them to the game, but I'd be quite surprised to see this get much momentum.

  • Its hard to argue Linux is better than Solaris at everything. We now have the Linux, Solaris and BSD kernels to choose from. Solaris is probably the highest scaling free OS available.

    Solaris was built for the enterprise. Most Oracle installations are run on Solaris. It is also the most popular UNIX as such (so we can now run a free UNIX rather than unix-clone (not that it matters)).

    It has been well designed and has features that are years ahead, while it lacks some of Linux's features.

    I cant wait for dtrace
    • I have yet to see benchmarks comparing Linux2.6, Solaris10 with BSD variants. Anyone have any links?

      Most Oracle installations aren't run on Solaris..
      a) Granted larger Oracle installations (8Processors or more) are on SPARC/Solaris.
      b) Many small to medium sized installations are run on x86/Linux. Has been this way for a few years now, ever since Oracle started supporting Linux really aggressively.

      Solaris's major advantage is standardized kernel, kernel APIs and system libraries.
      It allows application develo
      • Want to apply the latest patches that have been approved by Redhat? up2date For Solaris?

        you run sun's "patchmanager". autograbs "the latest" patches and installs if thats what you want.

        verify this patch cluster doesn't break any of your Sun applications

        As opposed to "verifying the latest linux kernel patch doesnt break app [foo]". no win for linux there either.

        • As opposed to "verifying the latest linux kernel patch doesnt break app [foo]". no win for linux there either.


          Please note I meant, Redhat patches don't break Redhat Applications vs Sun patches breaking SunOne Messaging server.

          Thanks for pointing out sun's patchmanager.
  • You can make all (latest) OS's look pixelly identical with a screenshot.

    I hope OpenSolaris gains some ground, I want to play with it. I think I should, since I use solaris on many companies servers all around. It seems to have had some real innovative thought at all kinda of dark and dank levels.

    w00t

  • OpenSolaris (Score:3, Insightful)

    by metamatic (202216) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @12:48PM (#13999274) Homepage Journal
    It has poor driver support.

    It has System V intellectual property in it, meaning it's legitimately at risk from SCO.

    Its license isn't GPL-compatible.

    There's no commercial support available for it.

    I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and assume the bugginess has improved drastically since Solaris 2.6 days. Still, it doesn't seem compelling to me.
    • I hear people complaining about driver support but to tell the truth with server class machines I never really had a problem with not having drivers. If you are trying to run it on every machine that comes down the bend your results may be different. As far as SVr4 IP in Solaris, remember that Sun has a very liberal UNIX license from when they were cozy with AT&T (remember the stock swap that sent ripples through the industry leading to everyone else forming OSF?). If anyone can get away with this Su
    • It has good enough driver support

      It is not at any risk from SCO, Sun bought out their UNIX license from Unix Software Labs AKA Novell before SCO were in the picture.

      No one really cares about the CDDL vs GPL issue except people who like the idea of flaming Sun. The reality is that there is very limitted scope for cutting and pasting Solaris kernel code into Linux and the other way arround and because of that CDDL vs GPL incompatibility is close to irrelevant. You can of course mix the user space stuff.

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