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Sun Microsystems

Sun Reconsidering Solaris 9 for x86 327

jeffphil writes "This article reports that Sun is meeting with a group of Solaris x86 users called the 'Secret Six.' The group was created to convince Sun to re-examine its previous decision to cancel Solaris on the x86 platform."
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Sun Reconsidering Solaris 9 for x86

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  • by soulsteal ( 104635 ) <soulsteal@[ ] ['3l3' in gap]> on Friday April 19, 2002 @05:22PM (#3376047) Homepage

    As compared to the "OS/2 Only Six?"

  • by The Slashdolt ( 518657 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @05:27PM (#3376078) Homepage
    Scott McNealy showed up to the meeting in a penguin outfit [].
  • by pmz ( 462998 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @05:32PM (#3376117) Homepage
    I think it would be very nice if Sun offered both Solaris and Linux on its new lines of low-end servers.

    Solaris shops can purchase these servers knowing they will work very well in their workplace, and Linux shops can purchase these servers knowing they will work very well in their workplace.

    Solaris can also help Sun differentiate their Intel-based products from those offered by other companies, such as Compaq and IBM. I know the Sun Intel servers will be better (with the familiar RAS features, etc.), but it might be hard to convince the PHBs that this is the case (since they are too used to bending over for M$ and cheap PCs).
  • Secret six? (Score:5, Funny)

    by awptic ( 211411 ) < minus berry> on Friday April 19, 2002 @05:33PM (#3376122)
    I didn't think x86 solaris had that many users.
  • by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @05:37PM (#3376145) Homepage

    The problem with Solaris for the x86 is that it was overpriced.

    • Re:Overpriced... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      (I don't know how the original post got a "funny" rating??)

      Solaris/X86 was overpriced for commercial use only. It has been free for nonprofit use for years now. Even before it was free, Sun sold individual academic licenses for $99, with overnight shipping and 30-days of engineering/technical support included. Early versions of Solaris/X86 even supported more advanced disks and graphics subsystems than Sun itself sold for SPARC.
      That's what an open source operating system does.

  • I wonder if Sun would consider Open Sourcing Solaris. They give it away for free as it is and only charge for support. If they put it under a GPL type license they are now alleiviated of much of the development costs and still keep a large share of the support market. In fact that will likely increase the user base which would also increase their support revenues not to mention the huge brownie points they'll get from the development community. I don't know if it would be as profitable as the license fee the secret six proposed but it's definatly better than just letting it die.
    • by rob_from_ca ( 118788 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @06:26PM (#3376389) Homepage
      The problem is that Solaris actually represents a fairly sizable investment and a competitive advantage for Sun. Lots (not sure of the percentage) of the code is non-platform specific, and Solaris is really well engineered. Giving their competitors in the space (IBM, HP) access to a working, proven, extremely efficient Unix kernel could hurt them.

      Solaris is a very very fast, stable, proven OS that I'd love to see stick around on Intel, even if I don't have that much call to use it at the moment. I can certainly see situations where I would use, sometimes even if I had to license it at $300-500 a copy. An IA64 port would be great as well.
  • by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @05:41PM (#3376169) Homepage

    Sun: So..Lets uh.... lets go over our findings so far.

    S6: Ok..Here's's what we've got so far. Between the uh..the six of us...uh, 1 of us has heard of Solaris for x86. That would be uh... 18% of the population."

    Sun: Fantastic. 18%. Wow. Management is gonna love that. 18.. wow....18% of the... wow. The new "insanity first" initiative here at the company is going to get off to a really, really impressive start. You know, just uh...acting like Linux doesnt exist just wont cut it anymore. We need to be REALLY insane this quarter... We need to uhh...raise the bar know, management says "we need more insanity" and we need to deliver. We cant be insane enough, if you ask me....So.. Lets not only act like Linux doesnt exist, but lets get really crazy. But lets keep it sane. Crazy, but sane. uhh..Ok. Can I have a graph of your figures? Y'know, uhh..something to show them..?"

    S6: Uhh.. Sure, here you go. A graph that shows that 18% of us have heard of Solaris for x86."

    Sun: Fantastic. Ok, before I..before I uh...hand in my reccomendation on going forward with Solaris 9 for x86, lets uh..lets recap. Ok. We need to be insane. We need 10% minimum.. So you're're saying we meet both, uh..exceed both. Right?

    S6: Uhh..yeah. Yes, definately. We've got a final figure of 18%, and we're insane. Thats correct.

    Sun: Great. Ok, one minor concern.. This line here, this graph is sort of..uh..flat.. Its just a flat line going..uh..across the page. Can we do anything with that to uh...make know, more uh..positive?

    S6: Here. Let me show you.. (papers ruffled) ...When you show them the graph, hand it do them like this. See? At an angle. Like this.. One more time... got the graph, hand it to them like..........this....

    Sun: You guys are incredible. Thanks so much. How about we uh....tenatively, 9 AM tomorrow? We'll go over our results. I..uh...yeah, 9 AM sounds good for me.

    S6: Ok. 5PM? Sounds good. 3PM. Gotcha.

    Sun: Gotcha. 11:21 AM. See you then, gang.


  • hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Just when I thought I had the last version of Solaris Intel 02/02 on DVD in Beta form.

    Key word for Solaris x86... LAPTOPS! How else are you going to easily show %customer% your product without lugging around a Blade 100 everywhere?

    Just compile your app for Intel and show it to them. iirc SparcBooks are pretty rare now..
  • Press release from Sun dated June 28, 2000 here [] says that
    registrants who have signed up for the Free Solaris [SM] Binary License Program within its first 90 days of availability have indicated that they plan to install Sun's operating environment on 260,000 systems.
    • by PD ( 9577 )
      Back when I was in college, I did a similar survey of the women on campus. 94% said they would sleep with me within 90 days. Turns out that they were only interested in getting a free copy of Solaris.
  • by ( 557454 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @06:04PM (#3376283) Homepage

    Kudo's to Sun on this one.

    It's not that I'm all that fond of x86, I just love the example that they are setting here. They make an executive decision, there is a public uproar, and they stop and reconsider.

    Even if they don't decide to continue supporting x86, they have given us a clear signal that they are listening to our opinions, and are willing to negotiate/cooperate with the community.

    That is what is missing in some Monopolies that have had a lot of media coverage lately. Some companies will do things that no one likes, completely ignore everyones complaints, and then pretend as if everyone was in favor of it the whole time.

    More big companies should have an approch like Sun's.

  • Just like if the RIAA were to suddenly come out with thier own MP3 download system, it wouldn't work well because they were too sluggish and let the market saturate with the competitor's product. There will be a market for this, or course, but it will be very small. Linux has eaten up everyon who wants intel unix. Some people may want solaris on intel so they can cheaply test out stuff they are eventually oing to put on thier big iron, but the average user will already have thier needs met.
  • why anyone cares.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by zerogravitas ( 317294 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @06:36PM (#3376431)
    I am pretty sure that a company I used to work for, NCR, is one of the six. They build and sell really big MPP database servers. They need an extremely reliable and _trusted_ OS to run on these servers (which run in a loosely coupled configuration -- remember MTBF is the product of the MTBF of all the parts) and they don't want to support their own flavor of *nix just for their own niche product. In their particular market, telling customers that they run these special, expensive, multi-terabyte databases on linux is not gonna cut it. Solaris for x86 is just the ticket for them. I believe that they have customers running solaris 8 for x86 so SUN's decision to back away from this OS really puts NCR (and potentially their customers) in a bind.
    • Did NCR drop their own version of Unix? Even though they no longer own the AT&T original source I'd bet they still have a licensing agreement to the code as it existed at the time. I think they had a version they called MP-RAS or something like that which is already optimized for their hardware.
  • I use it to compliment my SPARC. I love it. All I need now is a second hand RS/6000 and I'm in bidness!
    • I use it to compliment my SPARC.

      Good SPARC. Nice SPARC. Now, if you were to complement your SPARC with Solaris x86, then that's an entirely different matter.
  • Sun made Solaris 8 available for home/non-commercial use a while ago, and you could download .iso files. They subsequently removed the .iso files from their web site, and now you have to purchase a media kit.

    Does anyone have a link to a mirror of the .iso files?
  • At (now gone), we used Solaris x86 as our primary platform for web servers running Apache/mod_perl and custom multithreaded data servers for stock quotes and intraday charts. It was helpful for us to be able to move our apps between this platform and Sun boxes running Solaris 8, where we ran our databases and mail servers. The cost was reasonable, and we got excellent performance out of the Dell hardware by using Solaris x86. Not my business any more, but this architecture worked well while it lasted.

    I think Solaris x86 is most helpful for this type of situation where companies are deploying in-house created custom apps, not looking for commercial software to target the platform.

  • Solaris 8 bugs (Score:2, Informative)

    by t0ph3rus ( 551031 )
    We have had some interesting bugs with solaris 8 that we never had with 7. In fact we probably will be staying away from solaris 8 on our next project. Any one else having troubles with qfe nics???? I mean if you snoop it off the network and it says one thing and then the interace says another............that can't be a good thing.
    • What's a qfe nic? I'm using a $10 nic from OfficeMax (linksys). It comes up as an elx nic
    • Actually, we have had problems with Solaris 8 and 'snoop' sometimes missing traffic, data that we know is passing through that interface yet the sniffer never logs it.

      Always figured it was a bug in 'snoop'.

    • Did you install the qfe patches? How about the snoop patches? I know the initial release of Solaris 8 had some problems, but they have been ironed out. I highly suggest Solaris 8 2/02 release for SPARC. It runs great on every machine I have installed it on.

      BTW, there is now a patch that gives Solaris a real /dev/random device. It was backported from Solaris 9. 9 is going to be really nice.

      *Disclaimer, yes I work for Sun*
  • by xtremex ( 130532 ) <(cguru) (at) (> on Friday April 19, 2002 @07:32PM (#3376655) Homepage
    Using Netscape 6.1.
    I run Solaris x86 on a Dell Optiplex GX1. It installed without a hitch. I also have a SUn SparcSation 5 I got off of Ebay for $100. It's a headless system. (Truth be known, I'm accessing my solaris box remotely. (X :1 -query sun)
    I administer all my home servers (I run 10 servers!) and administer them all thru one monitor. The joys of *NIX. So there is a t least ONE person on slashdot who uses Solaris_x86!
    • Off topic (well, sorta)

      Have you compiled MySQL with GCC under Solaris for x86? When I did (on many different boxes) the configure script thought that my g++ was a cross-compiler (while it wasn't), but gcc was OK. After many hours of searching the web and usenet, with no results at all, I thought about something like this: for the time of building MySQL I renamed g++ and made a symlink to gcc named g++ and MySQL was fine. I don't remember how I thought about it but my workaround saved the day. :) Anyway, I wonder, do you know what's going on? I'm not using Solaris now, but I'm still curious. Thanks.

  • by emil ( 695 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @08:31PM (#3376966)

    Would this make Linux irrelevant instantaneously?

    If we could wrap a scalable, sound, SMP-capable GPL kernel around Debian or Red Hat, would we think twice?

    Or what if Sun were to release and maintain free Solaris for Itanium as well as x86? Would that be the kiss of death for HP-UX and AIX 5L? Why do they hesitate?

    Granted, the Solaris kernel has weaknesses. UFS has to go. I hate /etc/system, I'd much rather tune on the fly with 2.4. patchchk is what up2date was several years ago. Sun's continued reliance on CDE/ksh/zip to get everything done really makes me ill. Solaris needs to be the UNIX of the 21st century.

    What is the possibility of Sun convincing Apple to integrate large portions of Solaris into Mac OS X? Would they be willing to give it away to Apple? Why haven't they done so to build up market share?

    I am a Sun stockholder. I would like to see Sun publicly considering these actions. I want to see some bombast from Steve and Bill. If Sun, Apple, and possibly AOL collaberate on an x86-os, they will kill Microsoft.

    Sun needs to wake up to the potential of its own power. As it stands, they are difficult to distinguish from roadkill.

    • Would this make Linux irrelevant instantaneously?

      No offense intended, but the answer is NO. (see below.)

      Or what if Sun were to release and maintain free Solaris for Itanium as well as x86? Would that be the kiss of death for HP-UX and AIX 5L? Why do they hesitate?

      Solaris is a SVR4-based Unix, unlike Linux or *BSD. The original AT&T code still present is used under license and it is not Sun's prerogative to release this under the GPL.

      What is the possibility of Sun convincing Apple to integrate large portions of Solaris into Mac OS X? Would they be willing to give it away to Apple? Why haven't they done so to build up market share?

      The possibility is absolutely zero. Apple chose BSD and the Mach microkernel because that's what Steve [Jobs] and Avie [Tevanian] decided was the best possible solution back when they were at NeXT, and that's what NeXTStep/OpenStep were built on. MacOS X is built on OpenStep. It would probably take just as long to replace the Mach/BSD foundations of OS X with an SVR4-based kernel as it would to port Aqua/Cocoa/etc. to Solaris. Apple uses what it uses for a reason, and the hypothetical availability of Solaris wouldn't make it a better choice just because it's available.

      I am a Sun stockholder. I would like to see Sun publicly considering these actions. I want to see some bombast from Steve and Bill. If Sun, Apple, and possibly AOL collaberate on an x86-os, they will kill Microsoft.

      No, they won't. If you put Sun and Apple (and AOL's) customers together and get them ALL to switch overnight, then you still don't have more than 15-20% of the market of x86 PCs out there running Windows. As soon as they do that, THEN come up with interoperable replacements for the Office (sorry, StarOffice doesn't cut it), Exchange, Access/MS SQL and other software that business users depend on, THEN they can come up with some way to get everyone to port their DirectX-based games that the home market depends on. Pretty simple. ;)
  • One of the best little known firewalls to be found, and it is FREE on Solaris. This thing kicks the snot out of PIX and many other firewalls in a standalone configuration (it isn't too great for a large deployment of firewalls because it has no distributed management capability, ohwell). It has a real firewall front-end and frankly is one of the worst cases of mis-marketted technology next to the Alpha CPU. If you have Solaris 8, go download a copy of sunscreen and try it out, it rocks.

    So if you wanted a GOOD firewall, cheap; dont think linux, BSD or any other variant. Until recently you could get x86 solaris with sunscreen.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire