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Sun Microsystems

Sun to Sell Unbundled Solaris 9 232

An anonymous reader writes "Sun VP John Loiacono told eWEEK that the company is scrapping its plan to limit Solaris 9 support to Sun x86 hardware. Loiacono said the version for non-Sun hardware will retail for $99 for a single CPU and that the company is committed to supporting both Sun and non-Sun hardware in the future. Sun will also publicize the compatibility test suite it used internally, and said it may ultimately open the code for the product to the open source community."
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Sun to Sell Unbundled Solaris 9

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  • This is great... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by M$ Mole ( 158889 )
    Solaris is a kick-ass OS...and as much as I'd like to have my own Sun Blade sitting right next to my BSD box, I don't quite have the free cash for that kind of hardware. For someone like me who has to test in all kinds of environments, the possibility to get support on any setup is rather important as well.
    • I'd say it's a shame running Solaris on x86. I've tried installing Solaris 8 on my old Duron, and it actually doesn't work. It fails during the installation, printing a kerneldump on the screen... :|

      Running Solaris on an x86 is like running Windows 3.11 on a Pentium 4. Solaris is built FOR and runned BY 64-bit systems.
      What's your opinion?
      • by guacamole ( 24270 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:10AM (#4386012)
        Uh no. Solaris has been designed as a portable OS. It still fully supports lots 32-bit only sparc hardware and it might even boot in 32-bit mode on certain 64-bit sparc systems. Saying that Solaris is optimized for 64-bit hardware is probably wrong. The x86 might not be well optimized but I didn't find that to be a big problem. The biggest problem with Solaris x86 is that driver support is terrible. I looked at the HCL and I mostly see four, three, and sometimes two year old components. If you want to run Solaris on x86 you better plan your hardware purchases extra -carefully-.

        • Re:This is great... (Score:5, Informative)

          by larien ( 5608 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:29AM (#4386044) Homepage Journal
          From experience, I've been able to run Solaris 7 & 8 on x86 hardware in a lab environment quite stably. The biggest issues you'll find are:
          • No sound drivers for anything other than Sound Blasters; probably not a biggie, and you can download drivers for SB64/128
          • Pick your network cards carefully; check the HCL.
          • Poor/non-existent X support. You almost have to use XFree86 to get any useful X windows.
          • Poor support for IDE; DMA is limited.
          If you can work around that, you'll do OK, but linux will probably run smoother on commodity x86 hardware.
          • Re:This is great... (Score:5, Informative)

            by chegosaurus ( 98703 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @06:04AM (#4386131) Homepage
            True, but a couple of points:

            > No sound drivers for anything other than Sound Blasters; probably not a biggie, and you can download drivers for SB64/128

            The one thing I don't like about Solaris on x86. I've *never* been able to get the OSS soundcard drivers to work on my system. (Dual CPU - something goes very screwy and system usage goes up to ~95%!)

            > Pick your network cards carefully; check the HCL

            True, but many non-HCL cards can be persuaded to work without too much trouble. I've got a great system, works beautifully except for the sound card, which I don't miss, and none of it is on the HCL. (Oh, maybe the SCSI cards..?)

            > Poor/non-existent X support. You almost have to use XFree86 to get any useful X windows

            Not so bad as it used to be, especially with the porting kit. The XiG Accelerated-X server, or Summit as I think they call it now (www.xig.com) is very reasonably priced, works with anything, and generally *rocks*.

            > Poor support for IDE; DMA is limited

            Solaris IDE support really sucks, even on SPARC. Give it SCSI disks - it loves them.
          • There's a package you can download that is a compilation of XFree86 drivers "packaged" to work with xsun (for the !clued, that's sun's X11 implementation). This is, for example, the easiest way to get your Nvidia card to work if you decide to give solaris x86 a shot on said hardware... Also it apparently helps out a lot with laptop support. Here's the URL [sun.com].
    • by cscx ( 541332 )
      Well according to this-here ad on Slashdot, we should be running Microsoft Small Business Server!
  • by jkosturko ( 601845 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @04:44AM (#4385954)
    does anyone know of a way to dual boot solaris with say linux? maybe it was just the version that I downloaded, but it wanted to wipe the drive and repartition in order to install.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      There are lots of howtos online. I believe the trick is to boot from floppy or CD and temporarily change the partition types of the Linux partitions, because Solaris uses the same ones. After installation of Solaris, you change the types back.
      • and temporarily change the partition types of the Linux partitions, because Solaris uses the same ones

        That's correct, Solaris uses the same partition type as the Linux swap partition. During booting Linux suddenly also sees all the slices within the Solaris partition and your partition numbering goes suddenly haywire.

        But there is a trick for that, which is to start the disk with your Linux OS partition (not too big, because the Solaris partition can't be too high), then your Linux swap, then your Solaris partition and than an extended partition with your Linux /home.

        This would make your /home probably hda5, but after Solaris installation it suddenly becomes hda11 or something similar. The trick is now to put both hda5 and hda11 in your fstab (or just the hda11) and you are all set.
    • Better yet, is there a way to dual-boot Solaris and Linux in such a way that the two OSs can share the same /home partitions?

      Steve
      • by OrangeSpyderMan ( 589635 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @07:57AM (#4386397)
        IIRC Linux can mount UFS partitions, and read solaris disk labels, so the best way to do it would be to install Solaris, then linux and simply mount the /home as UFS in linux. Again, there are FAQs all over the place about Linux/Solaris dual boot, I believe I even saw one on BigAdmin once. If not groups.google.com is your friend.
    • I personally use FreeBSD's boot loader which is nice and uses F1, F2 .... to boot the desired OS and it doesnt have the issues of Lilo or other 1024 problems . I'd recommend it strongly .
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 04, 2002 @04:55AM (#4385978)
    In a lot of ways, Sun is the MS of the commercial UNIX world, but they have an impressive record of making contributions to the community. the most notable contribution was probably NFS, and Sun gave it away long before most of us had ever heard of the GPL. Solaris has lots of goodies in it, obviously including great NFS support, but also pleasant standardisation and maturity, which Linux still somewhat lacks. Solaris is also rock solid. Sure, Linux can have multi-year uptimes, but it doesn't really compare to Solaris. When you want to run a giant website with 100's of CPU's, you turn to Solaris, and you don't even care that you get raped on the price of the hardware.

    I imagine that Sun is doing this because they know they won't make any money pushing beige box PC's. (SGI sure didn't.) By just selling the OS, they may not sell a ton of copies, but the profit margins on software are pretty sweet, if you can pay off the cost of development.

    Well, it's 4:00 am here, and I am still at work, so I don't imagine this post was at all coherent. God Bless Orange Soda. cheese fish is moose.
    • by guacamole ( 24270 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:01AM (#4385996)
      I really doubt anyone is running a website on a 100 CPU server. Using a single large unix server as web webserver is just not very practical or economical. It is very easy to distribute the load between multiple cheap, comodity x86 servers. They scale greatly for this kind of application. Databases and such is a different story..

      • by Doctor_D ( 6980 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @06:56AM (#4386232) Homepage Journal
        In 2000, I would have agreed with you that most sites would just throw a slew of linux boxes running apache to host the website. At my old job that's what me and a couple of others were proposing--we so wanted to get rid of the boss installed M$ IIS server--for many many reasons.

        In 2001, I got a job with Sun. I went to a customer site to monitor an E10k, and I asked them what they were running on it, when they said their website, I was shocked. The usual answer is a ERP system with a database of some sorts. I have heard of clustered E10k's hosting websites, but I haven't heard of F15k's running websites.

        So, since an E10k can only scale to 64 UltraSPARC II processors, you're right....as far as I personally know that no one is running a website on a 100 cpu system (which would imply a F15k).
        • Yeup. And I know of .. umm... "a company out there" that just bought a 15k with 72 CPUs, to run an application server for the backend of their core website.
          I suspect they may end up throwing the extra CPUs in there eventually, too :-}

      • " It is very easy to distribute the load between multiple cheap, comodity x86 servers"

        Unless you have to save state information; then it becomes significantly more difficult. If you run an app server, then you have that cost. If you need a high-availability DB, then you have a significant cost.

        Don't get me wrong; using cheap web servers is the way to go, but its not magic; there are other costs involved.
        • Re:Unless... (Score:2, Informative)

          by rnd() ( 118781 )
          ASP .NET allows you to do this by automatically storing session state info in a MSSQL database. Of course, this solution isn't free, but it's probably a bit cheaper than a 100 processor Sun.
          • Re:Unless... (Score:2, Insightful)

            by buswolley ( 591500 )
            Its wrong to moderate the parent as flame bait just because he mentions a M$ product. Disagreeing with, or counter-suggesting the political views of /. is not a good reason for being flaimbait.

            /. is about freedom of speech ,ideas and ideologies. Not about suppression of conversations that go against your ideologies.

            Otherwise you are just as bad as any DMCA, RIAA, or Bush administration.

        • Unless you have to save state information;

          If you're talking about per-session state information, it's pretty easy to just set up your networking hardware to do per-connection round-robin load balancing, rather than per-request load balancing.
          • Depending on the website, you might have to hold more than just per connection information. For example, a website I look after has to grab a whole pile of information when someone logs in. That takes a comparably long time, about 30 to 60 seconds. This data is shared among people, so that two connections might have the same information, so it has to be saved in a way that every connection can potenitally get that information.
      • I assumed he meant "total cpus" (whether or not on the same memory bus), i.e. google would be a 100 cpu website, so would a site with a dozen 8-way Sun boxes (well, almost).
    • by mirko ( 198274 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:13AM (#4386020) Journal
      I don't quite agree.
      I am working as a sysadmin for a huge company.
      The reasons we chose Solaris are
      • Sun's support (with a SUN/GOLD => repairs are to occur during the working day)
      • Sun's hardware (really stable with a nice hardware-monitoring from the OS => we can detect a Power supply failure before it has some productive consequences)

      Now, the OS itself is quite simplistic, I mean you have to GNU-ize it a lot to achieve a comfortable level of functionalities (Apache, vim, bash -now supplied-, GCC! ...).
      I still wonder why they don't provide a decent ANSI C/C++ compiler that we need when it comes to patch/recompile some Apache module (Vignette [vignette.com] requires the commercial SUN C Compiler to be rebuilt)...
      It's mostly a question of support and feedback from SUN and other developpers (Oracle, Vignette, Broadvision, Silverstream...).
      Now, considerig Solaris alone on a lambda/PC, I guess this is not as interesting as you lose functionalities that only Sun's hardware fully provides.

      • Solaris drawbacks (Score:3, Informative)

        by emil ( 695 )
        • First and foremost, Solaris patchchk. This utility, written in perl, generates an HTML page which must be read by a browser. Now, RedHat up2date, which I like a lot, is python-based, and RedHat goes a little overboard with python support in the OS. patchchk is awful compared to up2date, but I must confess that I haven't used it in some time.
        • Solaris perl is built with Sun's C compiler, and this perl version cannot be extended by gcc. If you lack Sun cc and you need to extend perl, then you must reinstall in a separate location and then manage two installations. You cannot uninstall Sun's perl without breaking lots and lots of things.
        • The Solaris package system is an abomination. Please, PKZIP is something we should have left behind in our DOS days. Let's integrate bzip2 into something with the speed of RPM.
        • If you want an LVM, you have to load DiskSuite, and the documentation leaves a great deal to be desired.
        • UFS, Sun's native file system, supports journaling, but is loaded by default without it and very little mention is made of the importance of turning it on.
        • Solaris is certainly better than HP-UX with /etc/system (versus rebuilding the HP-UX kernel every time you change SHMMAX). However, AFAIK, Solaris must be rebooted for changes to /etc/system to take effect. I know that HP-UX is very recently getting dynamic kernel tunables, I hope Solaris is as well. I certainly enjoy them in Linux.
        • Some of this stuff is really old. Seriously, do we really need both awk and nawk? HP-UX standardized on nawk, but really we should all just switch to gawk.
        • Along these lines, it's time to remove every SysV utility that can be replaced by a GNU equivalent. Every commercial UNIX should be doing this.
        • Both Sun and HP are still trying to get out of Motif/CDE. What's the holdup? CDE on my workstation makes other people ask me if I drive an Edsel.

        Solaris suffers from the same problem as all commercial UNIX: the question of GNU integration. They now rely upon GPL utilities in a BIG way, but they are hesitant to integrate them properly and make them work well. In the meantime, there is enough SysV cruft that hasn't been touched in years that you could realistically call this OS "Solaris the Living Dead."

        It's time for Sun to concentrate on the OS components that it does well, and throw everything else to GNU.


          • Some of this stuff is really old. Seriously, do we really need both awk and nawk? HP-UX standardized on nawk, but really we should all just switch to gawk.
          • Along these lines, it's time to remove every SysV utility that can be replaced by a GNU equivalent. Every commercial UNIX should be doing this.


          No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, ...

          As old as this stuff is, removing it would place a monstrous burden on untold numbers of sysadmins and programmers out there. Believe it or not, very many of them are critically dependent on utilities that are really old. They wrote scripts eons ago that work well, and their systems depend on them. They would be hamstrung to the point of desperation if they disappeared.
          • Sun submits patches to the relevant projects that guarantee behavioral compatibility.

            The "we can't upgrade because stuff will break" crowd really gets on my nerves sometimes.

            • Re:Easy solution... (Score:5, Informative)

              by irix ( 22687 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @10:16AM (#4387084) Journal
              The "we can't upgrade because stuff will break" crowd really gets on my nerves sometimes.

              You must be a Solaris sysadmin. Let me give you a Solaris developer perspective :-)

              I have complicated package install scripts that rely on many of the old Solaris SysV stuff to be there. If it isn't, things will almost certainly break.

              The suggestion I would have is put the GNU stuff in /usr/local/bin for now - and this is exactly what Sun is doing. After some period of time, announce that you are deprecating the SysV coammands. Some period of time later (several releases) consider reversing the situation - make the GNU stuff the default, leave the old commands somewhere else.

              We still have plenty of customers running Solaris 7. When you have high availablility high transaction systems, you make upgrade moves slowly and carefully. I know this isn't the way Linux works, but Sun plays in somewhat of a different market.

              • The suggestion I would have is put the GNU stuff in /usr/local/bin for now - and this is exactly what Sun is doing.

                So you're telling me that Sun's current attitude towards GNU is right? You don't deal with perl much, do you?

                The situation is technically similar to RedHat 7, where two versions of gcc were included - it's not such a drastic piece of brain damage, but the effect is much longer. The system is fragmented and is not true to itself.

                Here is what I really suggest that Sun do: take Red Hat Linux - remove the Linux, insert the Solaris kernel, and the minimum of supporting utilities to make it run. Maintain LSB status if at all possible.

                Then offer Solaris/Classic and Solaris/GNU. Certify each for the high-end. Announce that they will merge into sunos 3 within 5 years.

                If Sun really wants to set the world on fire, GPL the kernel, then integrate SGI's XFS into Solaris as a native filesystem.

                And the day that HP-UX/Itanium was available for purchase, Solaris/Itanium should have been available for free - the port is finished and is sitting on a shelf at Sun - but I digress.

                Really, Sun can end the Linux question anytime they want - just by opening their kernel. Who else can claim this? Who else has come so close?

                • So you're telling me that Sun's current attitude towards GNU is right? You don't deal with perl much, do you?

                  Well, I do, but I have the Sun compiler, so I am not so concerned. As long as Sun ships their own compiler, it makes sense to ship Perl compiled against it, no?

                  If they start shipping gcc as part of the core Solaris install then maybe, but otherwise I don't think it makes any sense.

        • Re:Solaris drawbacks (Score:3, Informative)

          by pmz ( 462998 )
          The Solaris package system is an abomination.

          At least, the Sun package database (/var/sadm/install/contents) is plain text and fully greppable. It is actually very nice. RPM would be a good choice if it didn't suffer so much from bloating featuritis.

          If you want an LVM, you have to load DiskSuite, and the documentation leaves a great deal to be desired.

          The DiskSuite documentation is fine. I learned DiskSuite all by myself just using the Answerbook and the man pages.

          UFS, Sun's native file system, supports journaling, but is loaded by default without it and very little mention is made of the importance of turning it on.

          People who really want and need journaling already understand its importance.

          I know that HP-UX is very recently getting dynamic kernel tunables, I hope Solaris is as well. I certainly enjoy them in Linux.

          The Solaris `ndd` command allows run-time changes to many tunable paramters for device drivers. The 'mdb' man page mentions some things about modifying a live system kernel, but I have never tried it.

          Some of this stuff is really old.

          Some of Sun's paying customers are pretty old, too.

          it's time to remove every SysV utility that can be replaced by a GNU equivalent.

          Only after those GNU "equivalents" are actually standards-compliant. Also, the GNU tools often abandon the KISS philosophy of UNIX, which often gets in my way (yes, extra features can be a PITA). It slices, it dices, it cures the common cold...but I just want a text editor!

          CDE on my workstation makes other people ask me if I drive an Edsel.

          CDE does exactly what it was intended to do. It is very functional and useful and is very appropriate for a workstation. However, Sun is responding to the "eye candy" kids out there by adopting GNOME as a replacement for CDE.
        • Re:Solaris drawbacks (Score:3, Informative)

          by larien ( 5608 )
          Ok, let's pick some holes in the arguments:
          • patchck; yup, the old version at least gave you a plain text file. However, there's nothing stopping you writing a wrapper round it to parse things out.
          • I've managed to get perl extensions installed using gcc; you just have to edit the Makefile to use gcc instead of cc. Alternatively, make a symlink from /usr/bin/cc to /usr/local/bin/gcc.
          • PKZIP=zip/unzip; that does more than bzip2, even if bzip2 does have a better compression algorithm. I'm not sure where this comes into the package management in any case.
          • LVM: the documentation on docs.sun.com (i.e. the same as the answerbooks) is fine. I've set up mirrors, concats, stripes and RAID-5 volumes using that documentation.
          • If your admins don't know about UFS logging, hire better admins. There are also occasions when it isn't always prudent to enable ufs logging. That said, I do think it may well be about time they enabled it by default.
          • Setting kernel parameters: as someone has said, some can be set with ndd; adb is available for some others, although a reboot is required for others with /etc/system. At least with /etc/system, if it goes wrong, you can at least boot from CD and edit the file (unless you use VXVM for your root disks or something wacky like that).
          • What's the hardship in having awk, nawk *awk all on one system? It takes mebbe a meg of disk space and keeps $DEITY knows how many user scripts working.
          • SysV commands should only be replaced as and when their GNU equivalents provide drop-in functionality; i.e. they respond to all the flags that the SysV ones do in the same manner. Again, some scripts may rely on some arcane switch and/or the output from the command being absolutely identical.
          • CDE fulfilled a design goal, that being all Unices looked identical (or at least similar). I personally don't see the problem with CDE, even if it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of Gnome/KDE.
          As I've implied above, the SysV "cruft" is there for the end users; even if you don't use any of it, what is the harm in it staying? The harm in removing it is to break a large portion of user scripts and completely piss off your customer base, many of whom have large wodges of spending power.
        • Re:Solaris drawbacks (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bolthole ( 122186 )
          Solaris perl is built with Sun's C compiler, and this perl version cannot be extended by gcc. If you lack Sun cc and you need to extend perl, then you must reinstall in a separate location and then manage two installations.

          Err, no, you just need to know enough perl, to know that you need to hunt down and adjust Config.pm to use gcc and corresponding flags instead of the default SunCC stuff.

      • The reasons we chose Solaris are ... Sun's hardware (really stable with a nice hardware-monitoring from the OS => we can detect a Power supply failure before it has some productive consequences)

        I've got eight (nine?) words for you: 400 MHz UltraSPARC II with 8 meg ecache.

        I'm guessing you started working with Sun hardware sometime after that particular debacle.

        The most stable hardware I've had the pleasure of working with was (pre-Compaq) DEC AlphaServers. I recall one particularly hard-working pair that had some 637 days of uptime (basically, they had been working non-stop since they were first built) - the only reason we had to reboot them was to apply Y2K patches. No cache-coherency problems there.

        -Isaac

    • "Raped on hardware?" You may be behind the times.
      Sun is actually the cheapest way to go to put
      100 servers in a farm - the SUnFire V100 is $800 -
      at least in the educational market - I can get a
      sun rack server in the door cheaper than I can any
      rack x86 server.

      • Sun is actually the cheapest way to go

        it all depends on what you are spec'ing out.

        Dell 1650 - $4,163.65
        2 P1.4 ghz processors
        2 GB RAM
        1 36GB 10k drive
        2 gige NICs
        add 2 GB RAM for $1131
        add 1 36 GB 10k drive for $217
        optional: redundant power supply, hardware raid, 4 GB RAM max, 3 drives max

        Sun LX50 - $5,295.00
        2 P1.4 ghz processors
        2 GB RAM
        1 36 GB 10k drice
        2 10/100 NICs
        add 2 GB RAM for $2250
        add 1 36 GB 10k drive for $480
        optional: 6 GB RAM max, 3 drives max

        you save over $1000 for the comparable Dell, which comes with more options than the Sun (excluding the 6 gb total RAM).
        If you max both out, you get the Dell (with raid and redundant power supply) for $7000 and the Sun (with 6 gb RAM) for $11,600.

        You can find greater savings in disk arrays from both vendors.

    • the most notable contribution was probably NFS, and Sun gave it away long before most of us had ever heard of the GPL.

      Uhhh, just to clarify, Sun published the specs to NFS, but (as far as I know), did not open source, or even publish, their code (I'll gladly accept corrections on that, BTW.)
      • I believe that Sun published a reference version of NFS source, but didn't open source their optimized internal version until much later.

        I'd also add NIS (aka yellow pages) to the list of Sun's notable contributions. That made NFS a whole lot more useful. (You really don't want the situation where user 'fred' has different UIDs on two machines both NFS-mounting /home (or /usr/users, back when).)
    • I agree with your point, except I would argue that Sun's greatest contribution is Java.
  • One CPU? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by acehole ( 174372 )
    I've got a dual system, does that mean it wont install on my system or just wont make use of smp?
    • Re:One CPU? (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If it is like the Sparc version, it merely means that using it with multiproc boxen is illegal.
    • Re:One CPU? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by chegosaurus ( 98703 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:39AM (#4386064) Homepage
      Wondering the same thing myself. $99 I don't have a problem with. Solaris is my OS of choice and I'm happy to shell out for it. But if they're going to want, say, $400 for dual CPU then I'll stick with 8.

      Solaris really is sweet on a dual CPU system. Yes, it sucks on crappy hardware, but for my money it can't be touched on decent kit.

      Finally, just to preempt a few of the "why pay for Solaris when Linux is better and it's free as in beer and it's free as in speech and my leet AMD Gentoo boxen do everything an E15k does but faster" posts that invariably come with any Sol x86 story: SOME OF US JUST LIKE IT, and don't mind parting with a bit of cash now and again. m'kay?
      • I heard something the other day that made me wonder: A friend told me that his company had been forced to switch from Oracle on Linux to Oracle on Solaris for purely performance reasons. They are now running a 3500 with 4 processors.

        What is the state of Oracle on Linux today?

  • by jukal ( 523582 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:00AM (#4385992) Journal
    Sun will also probably open source this product sometime in the future. As such, it will work with the community to put together a hardware compatibility list that expand the range of systems known to work on Solaris on x86.

    Interesting, maybe. But nowadays, open sourcing seems to mean everything between giving a quick peek into the sourcecode and releasing it under a license which poses no restrictions at all. Anyway, is there some pieces in the codebase that are especially worth waiting for - if the license would allow utilizing them for other purposes?

    • Note that the posted didn't say "open source the code for open source community". The poster said "open the source for open source community.." Solaris is really one of Sun's few crow jewels. I really doubt they'll open source it. They might release the Solaris code the way they did for Solaris 8 a year ago, though.
  • Halfway there.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by noelp ( 524550 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:05AM (#4386006)
    This is good news - but one of my main uses for Solaris is an Oracle platform. Oracle no longer support Solaris on x86, which is a shame because Oracle 9i on Solaris 9 on x86 would be a very interesting proposition. Anyone know of any plans for Oracle to resupport x86 for Solaris? With Sun seeming commiting itself towards it, would it be a mistake not to?
    • If you need Oracle 9i and you need x86, there's Oracle for Linux [oracle.com] I'm thinking Oracle ran a few performance tests of x86/Solaris/Oracle and x86/Linux/Oracle, then chose the platform that would give them the marketing numbers they need (and the performance their customers NEED). Originally Oracle/Linux was more a developer training tool, now it seems to be attempting ot compete with SQL Server. GO Oracle!
  • by alan_d_post ( 120619 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:10AM (#4386013) Homepage
    As soon as FreeBSD and NetBSD implement good threading, there will be no need whatsoever to run Solaris.

    When they'll be done is an open question, of course. The Net folks in particular tend to refuse to rush anything at all.

    In the meantime, I can't see how solaris x86 is that much nicer than gentoo or debian (aside from having a working NFS implementation :). I personally detest having to maintain a solaris (sparc) box for my job.
    • by guacamole ( 24270 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:23AM (#4386034)
      As soon as FreeBSD and NetBSD implement good threading, there will be no need whatsoever to run Solaris.


      Huh? What about vendor support? Application support? Is oracle(and several hundred or thousand solaris-only applications) certified to run on FreeBSD? Are Veritas storage products supported on FreeBSD? Is there a company that provides a 24/7 on-site hardware and software support for FreeBSD systems? Lots of people would actually take Solaris over FreeBSD for a number of other reasons as well simply they -like- the OS..

      Maybe we're talking about different uses. Solaris will certainly remain -the- enterprise datacenter OS whether *BSD has or not a good threading support.. Of course, there are many areas where it is better to use Linux or FreeBSD. There is no one OS that fits all needs.

      • Amen. I agree wholeheartedly.

        This use-the-right-fucking-tool-for-the-job-already attitude is exactly the way people should look at it. It's how I solve my problems. It's how I keep the users and the customers happy. It's what gives my network stability.

        It's nice that people advocate some operating systems, but real admins already know what they are going to use. The right tool for the damn job.

    • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @07:18AM (#4386278)
      It's not threads, its about hardware. Can *BSD run on a 16 CPU box with hotpluggable CPUs, power supplies and hard drives? Can *BSD allow you to slice up the machine into arbitrary sections, and do resource management at that level?

      You buy a box that gives you 5 nines up uptime, and they ship the OS to do it with - its a nobrainer.
  • Sun rudderless? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teknikl ( 539522 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:20AM (#4386030)
    Does anyone else get the impression that Sun as a company is a ship without a rudder?

    The on again off again Solaris for x86 makes me wonder who's in charge over there.

    Is it that so many good ideas come out of the company that they can't decide? Or is it that they run with every good idea? What gives?

    If roles were revered and Sun was in MS's position (and MS in Sun's), I think I would be scared. For as lumbering, evil and draconian as MS can be, at least you see where its headed and it usually stays on track to get there.
    • by lpontiac ( 173839 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:36AM (#4386058)

      For as lumbering, evil and draconian as MS can be, at least you see where its headed and it usually stays on track to get there.

      *cough*. OLE, ActiveX, COM, DCOM, .NET and SOAP..

      • OLE, ActiveX, COM are all basically the same thing. Just different interfaces. Just like there interfaces for Java Applets, Beans, etc.

        DCOM ok that was a royal hack. .NET and SOAP are an interation of the previously mentioned technologies.

        So if you look at it, it is basically two technologies, COM related and .NET related.
    • Re:Sun rudderless? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chegosaurus ( 98703 )
      Yep. My first thought on reading this story was "Great, but how long before they cancel it again?"
    • Re:Sun rudderless? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by chrysrobyn ( 106763 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @07:50AM (#4386373)

      Does anyone else get the impression that Sun as a company is a ship without a rudder? [...] Is it that so many good ideas come out of the company that they can't decide? Or is it that they run with every good idea? What gives?

      I've got a buddy who works over there. Apparently, their CEO is quite a charismatic guy. Facts be damned, he's pretty good with the charisma. I work for a competing company (knowing Sun is a purely hardware company, it should be obvious which industry I'm in, but it's not). Listening to how Scott Mcnealy [sun.com] conveys his vision of competitors is quite educational. Working for a competitor, reading the trade press, I understand where some of the misinformation comes from, but some of it is more deceptive than the telemarketers.

      I hope, for my buddy's sake [thestreet.com], that Sun either gains some focus, or fully commits [yahoo.com] to multiple sources of income to become a mega corp. This stuff about Java (which was supposed to leverage hardware...) and Solaris on x86 make me really wonder how much expense [yahoo.com] Sun is willing to incur to sell a few more boxes.

      Of course, if Sun tanks, more business for us.

    • For as lumbering, evil and draconian as MS can be, at least you see where its headed and it usually stays on track to get there.

      Actually, Microsoft is right on track to cease being a dominant company. Once .NET and Palladium have lackluster adoption rates, where is their future, then? Their new licensing schemes only make things worse. Seriously, aside from aggressive customer lock-in, what other sound business strategy does Microsoft have?

      Even though Sun's finances aren't strong, right now, at least Sun isn't out to pin its customers in a pit of no escape. Sun lives in a market of real competition, where customers are earned not enslaved. Sun is a much more transparent company than Microsoft. They have to be.
  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:28AM (#4386043) Homepage Journal
    Is it just me or are there interesting similarities between Sun and Apple here? Both offer an OS that is loved by many, but only runs on expensive proprietary hardware. Both seem to get their profits mainly from hardware sales. Both slowly grow closer to standard x86 hardware... Rumors contradict each other as to whether the OSen will actually run on standard x86 hardware... Of course, Sun hardware is great in its own right, whereas Apple hardware is mostly wanted because of the OS it runs. But then, those new Apple boxen look good, so maybe, one day...

    ---
    ``An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.''
    -- Mohatmas Ghandi
    • You're right , big companies do that . But hope that for 100$ it will have a better support on drivers at least .
    • by ecki ( 115356 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @06:04AM (#4386132)
      Does anybody remember the rumours from ca. 1996 suggesting that Sun should buy Apple (which was at that time in pretty bad shape)? The new company would then of course be called Snapple ;)
      • No, but I advocated that Apple should have bought SGI a couple of years ago.

        I thought it was a natural fit -- unix, visualization standards-leaders. It would have given an Apple a product line that extended into more enterprise server territory that they're just now trying to get into with XServe without having to re-invent the wheel.

        SGI workstations could have benefitted from a larger user-base platform and a better desktop environment as well as being able to supply a nearly complete solution that could have included the administrative employees desktops.

        Someone rapped me for this saying that Apple was a consumer desktop company only, but I don't think that's totally smart. They don't seem able to grow that market well and without datacenter-grade equipment and experience they don't have access to the higher-end markets.

        Dunno if its too late for this or not. SGI has grown increasingly marginalized as x86 renderfarms, linux and good desktop 3D have probably really run into the 3d market.
        • Given SGI's current stock price ($0.65 as I type), Apple probably could afford to easily buy them.

          With their PPC troubles with Motorola and their desire to stay off x86 to avoid becoming just another OS reseller, having MIPS hardware to throw OS X on could be a nice backup and/or eventual migration path (say somewhere around Mac OS 15 or 16.

          IBM could have PowerPC, Apple could have MIPS, and Sun could have SPARC....and everyone else could have DRM-86 (the CPU type formerly known as x86).

    • Both offer an OS that is loved by many, but only runs on expensive proprietary hardware.

      What about SPARC, SBus, OpenBoot, PCI, SCSI, IDE, USB, Firewire, SDRAM, etc. is proprietary? If you are going to guess SPARC, you are wrong, because it is an IEEE standard. Oh, and SBus is, too. Just because few people implement a standard doesn't make the standard proprietary.

      It is arguable that Sun's SPARC-based hardware is the least proprietary computer hardware sold today. For a $99 license fee from SPARC International, you can go out and market your own home-grown SPARC CPU, and Sun couldn't care less. Fujitsu does this, the European Space Agency has done this. Several years ago, 3-rd party CPUs from Ross were the fastest SPARC CPUs, period. They even beat out Sun's own SuperSPARC CPUs.

      Sun also allows 3-rd party peripherals in their Sun-branded workstations and servers. Their kernel APIs are open and documented, so anyone with the motivation can create device drivers. I can go out and get non-Sun graphics and I/O boards right now, if I wanted to.

      If Sun is genuinely in the business of sucking customers in and putting them into a prison of Microsoft-like lock-in, I have yet to see it. I know that there is ample competition, and most software is not tied to Sun hardware. I could dump everything and go out and by RS/6000 or even Dell, if I wanted to.
    • Please, x86 hardware is not standard hardware. It may be fair to call x86 commodity hardware, but it is hardly a standard.

      x86 was invented by Intel. While cloning the x86 instruction set is popular, this is only becacuse of the market dominance of the x86. Intel manufactures the vasy majority of PC chips. This leads to others like Cyrix and AMD cloning the instruction set and trying to grab a piece of the pie.

      The x86 processor is not a very impressive chip. PPC and Sparcs are far superior. However, they have not been able to ramp up the Mhz with the speed that Intel has been able to. An 800 Mhz PPC chip is plenty fast and more efficient than a comparable Intel chip.

      Nothing annoys me more than people calling x86 hardware or Microsoft software a "standard." Each holds a majority share of their respective market, but that does not make them the standard of their industry.

      Are the Democrats the standard US Senators since they hold the majority?

      • What would you call a standard, if not the "version that the vast majority of the market uses"? Certainly standards have nothing to do with superiority, and very little to do with publications like RFCs.

        TCP/IP is a standard, not because of its RFCs (pretty much all implementations vary from them, in favor of how BSD did it) but because everyone supports it and uses it.
      • The x86 processor is not a very impressive chip.
        >>>>>>>>>>>.
        Whatever is impressive is whatever is fastest. Everything else is just Mac users trying to justify Apple's choice of CPU :)
    • Oh sure, and it goes back years. There used to be more hardware similarities, back in the Sun3 days both Sun and Apple hardware used M68K processors, and SCSI drives. Heck, when we replaced a bunch of Sun3 workstations with Sun4s, I used the Sun3 memory SIMMs (1 MB each!) to upgrade all our office's Mac Plus machines (which were our standard machine for office apps) to 4MB each. (This would be circa 1990.)

      Sun also had a line of hardware/software (TOPS, later taken over by spin-off Sitka) to let machines (including DOS PCs) network with Macs over AppleTalk networks. (Hmm, any Linux drivers for an old ISA TOPS card?)
  • OOOO!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by -ryan ( 115102 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:36AM (#4386059)
    OMG these guys are geniuses! Imagine that, a powerful UNIX OS on commodity x86 hardware! Watch out Microsoft!

    Really though, this is a day late and a dollar short. If anyone is going to be buying x86 servers to run unix on, I'd be willing to bet it's for Linux or BSD and not Sun. I don't need to sit here and explain the economic reasons why Sun would be better off investing in Linux and making it attractive to your typical Sun customer instead of continuing development on Solaris.
  • by drfreak ( 303147 ) <dtarsky&gmail,com> on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:51AM (#4386097)
    One of the biggest contributions I have seen from Sun, by far, has been PAM. NFS is certainly sweet, don't get me wrong, but having modular authenticantion is the bees knees of unix.
  • Yay! (Score:3, Funny)

    by The Pi-Guy ( 529892 ) <joshua+slashdotNO@SPAMjoshuawise.com> on Friday October 04, 2002 @06:43AM (#4386206) Homepage
    Finally! Someone other than ME gets to screw up =)

    OTOH, will Sun just make up their mind?? Methinks this is all a PR ploy.

    Or I should stop reading /. early in the morning.

    =)
    --j
  • by HP-UX'er ( 211124 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @07:06AM (#4386250)
    How many times has Sun said one thing and done another ? (how many of you are still waiting on your free Solaris CD's?)

    Until you can actually buy it or download it, I wouldn't belive a thing that comes out of the Sun press office.
    • The Sun free cd thing (at least I don't think) was never meant for the sort of publicity given to it here on slashdot. I found the a link a few days before on sunhelp.org and got it almost immediately. Those of us who put in our info before the slashdot coverage got it. Simple as that.


      I dunno, I just don't like the idea of people whining that they never got their FREE version of a commercial UNIX.

  • by (H)elix1 ( 231155 ) <slashdot.helix@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Friday October 04, 2002 @07:41AM (#4386347) Homepage Journal
    Sure, this will help... As a Sun stock holder [yahoo.com], this pains me. Again...

    They buried any chances of x86 support when they 'killed' Solaris 9 flat out and gave marginal driver support for Solaris 8(x86). When it might have mattered, they held back. When it no longer does, they release and ignore linux.

    The entry level SunBlade was a huge disapointment on a personal level - not sure what I expected for a $999, but for about the same cash I got dual x86 CPU's and SCSI hard drives. After adding an Adaptec 29160n card, it is still a dog. Guess which one is a web server and which one is my primary development environment.

    They release a 'free' Java Application Server after giving the JBoss people the finger. They release a 'free' app server, giving every other partner the other finger who use to say 'use Sun hardware' when it matters.

    They gave the log4j and a few other groups the finger when they did a 'not develped here' move and folded in some junky classes into JDK 1.4

    Not that I'm bitter.... but I have not seen anything that looks like a solid move in a long time. Perhaps merging with HP/Compaq next week?

    (shaking head and walking away)
    • Different tools for different jobs. Linux is a good general purpose OS with lots of software available for it.

      On the other hand, I need an OS to serve NFS to my sparc. (IDE disks are cheaper than SCSI.) To put it mildly, Linux (with kernels 2.2 and 2.4) sucked, so I run Solaris/x86. I don't need any of the other crap that comes with Linux -- no, I need an NFS file server.

      I probably should have tried a BSD, but I had Solaris/X86 and found it to do what I needed it to.

      I for one am glad to see a general availability of Solaris 9 for x86.

  • by evocate ( 209951 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @08:18AM (#4386466)
    I've heard many claims that Solaris is very reliable - more reliable than Linux. How much stability comes from Solaris itself, and how much comes from Sun's end-to-end control of the hardware? Solaris has had the advantage of running on machines that were not only well-designed, but designed and built to the specifications of the OS group. Linux has rarely if ever had this luxury. When Solaris 9 is running on ferrel x86 hardware, will it display the same reliability as it's UltraSparc sibbling? More importantly, will it even prove to be as reliable as Linux?
    • I think the main reliability advantage for Solaris on Sparc (vs on generic x86) is that there are fewer device drivers to get right.

      I don't buy your theory that Solaris reliability is due to Sun's control over hardware. The OS group probably has some influence over CPU/MMU design, but not over the various controllers within the system, many of which aren't even made by Sun. Sun's hardware is top quality which enhances the overall system reliability, but not OS reliability. I don't blame Linus if my motherboard shorts out.

      Linux is already capable of long uptimes, so I think Solaris's main advantage over the penguin on x86 will be that it gives Solaris apps a cheaper platform to target. Sun would rather that people buy Sparc, but they probably realize that it's better to give them Solaris/x86 than to lose them to Linux/x86 or Windows/x86.
      • I think the main reliability advantage for Solaris on Sparc (vs on generic x86) is that there are fewer device drivers to get right.

        Ok, you stated better what I was really trying to say. Because Sun OS and hardware designers collaborate, there are fewer devices and so fewer drivers to write. This lets the OS group focus on reliability within the narrow device range. I agree with you that this collaboration probably does not result in better hardware.

        I can see why a cheaper target platform for Solaris apps will help Sun - more Solaris installations means more chances to upsell customers from low- or no-margin Intel boxes to high-margin Sparc boxes. I can even see how this might lower costs for existing or future Sun hardware customers by giving them cheaper development or staging systems. What I am trying to figure out is how Solaris x86 could benefit a site that does not and will not need to upgrade to Sparc hardware. Is Solaris better than Linux on Intel hardware?

        • "What I am trying to figure out is how Solaris x86 could benefit a site that does not and will not need to upgrade to Sparc hardware. Is Solaris better than Linux on Intel hardware?"

          The existence of Solaris/x86 could be a benefit to a shop that already has an investment in Solaris apps or Solaris talent.

          Solaris makes a better NFS server than Linux, so that's another potential benefit.

          I'm not sure, but Solaris might have some security certs that aren't available for Linux.

          Solaris doesn't evolve as fast as Linux, so long-term support (without unnecessary updates) is a more reasonable expectation.

          Solaris is still probably better at file-locking and other primitives, but I have nothing to back that up.

          I think on x86 Sun has too little, too late to really hurt Linux. That's OK though, it will find its niche. I'd really like to see Sun do some work on Linux/Sparc. Last time I ran it, it was dog slow and was nowhere near ready for the big boxes.
    • Uptime on all of our Solaris servers is usually over a year. We wouldn't trust our Oracle Financials and Web applications to anything else.

      Great Support, Great Warranties, Great Service and excellent prices for what you get. Consider a 4 cpu V880 costs 50k, but you get 8 gigs of memory and 350 gigs of diskspace and a system that is "hot upgradeable" and the cost of downtime for your business is over 1 million dollars a day. That 50 is pennies to the cost of downtime and being able to throw in more cpu's, memory or change devices WHILE STILL RUNNING (solaris 9) is worth it.

      Uptime counts when your business relies on it. Linux is great and all, but i need the stability or Solaris with Veritas in combination with EMC arrays and the support contracts that go around everything.

      We aren't talking about simple needs when you usually buy sun equipment in which case if your looking for low end hosting boxes and what not, they're still even a bargain considering how many customers you could loose when your systems crash or need upgrades.
    • I've heard many claims that Solaris is very reliable - more reliable than Linux.

      It's more accurate to say that Solaris is extremely reliable. There's oddball bugs here and there; however, I've witnessed a Solaris kernel panic once only after forgetting to upgrade a device driver after upgrading from Solaris 7 to Solaris 8. Otherwise, I work my workstation pretty hard months at a time (rebooting only when doing routine maintenance). The servers here are similarly reliable.

      How much stability comes from Solaris itself, and how much comes from Sun's end-to-end control of the hardware?

      The software itself is very robust. The hardware does help when the hardware has extra reliability features (RAID, ECC, hot-plugging), which the software leverages for better uptime. Random hardware failures are the most common cause of Solaris downtime.

      When Solaris 9 is running on ferrel x86 hardware, will it display the same reliability as it's UltraSparc sibbling?

      Generally, yes, but the device drivers are different and can have bugs unique to the x86 platform. The lower reliability x86 hardware would probably be more significant.

      More importantly, will it even prove to be as reliable as Linux?

      In the long term, Solaris should prove more reliable than Linux, because Sun has a more conservative approach to software upgrades and maintenance. There is generally less risk associated with updates to Solaris versus updates to Linux.
  • by southpolesammy ( 150094 ) on Friday October 04, 2002 @09:58AM (#4386979) Journal
    While I think that Solaris x86 would have been a good idea if it had caught on somewhat better, it hasn't and the Linux/*BSD world has more or less taken over the x86 platform for UNIX-like OS's.

    Based on this, it would be in Sun's best interest to do one of two things. Either bring Solaris (both SPARC & x86) upto speed with the standard offerings of Linux/*BSD with the GNU software included and supported, or pull out completely of the x86 arena and reallocate company funds on a strengthening of the SPARC platform.

    If it were me, I'd do the latter since there is a double whammy with Solaris x86 which is that users aren't buying Sun hardware, and therefore do not need hardware support either which hits them both on the sale and on the ongoing support contracts. If they can get people to stay only on the SPARC platform, it benefits Sun's bottom-line better, while allowing them to better focus on their own products.
  • Interesting, it seems sun is going to sell SOlaris 9 for $99 USD. But what about all those grand plans they had for Linux? I mean, at one point Sun was going to make Linux kernel + Solaris userland to be the x86 mega system. That way Solaris on x86 would have all the advantages of open source driver development. Lets face it, this is a much better idea that the one currently being driven my Sun to sell Solaris 9 on Intel, and just continue to ride sick horse. Going down this path means more money is being spent at Sun on the Intel side of things, and that takes away from the Sparc side of stuff. Linux kernel already has like 10x more supported hardware that the Solaris kernel. Yeah, the Solaris engineers can look at the Linux kernel and reverse engineer code for their own, but isn't that just stupid when you could just have the linux kernel? Besides, the people who use x86 solaris is mainly schools that teach unix to students, and cannot afford a sparc box in front of each student, or some other institution that is penny-pinching. SO the people they are hurting is the people who might be helping Sun the most.

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