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Sun Microsystems

Sun Solaris 9 for x86 for Evaluation 286

Rune Tønnesen writes "Sun has listent to their costomers, they have a released Sun Solaris 9 x86 for test and evaluation purposes, it can be downloaded ($20) as part of their OE Customer Early Access software.""
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Sun Solaris 9 for x86 for Evaluation

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:20PM (#4788240)
    If I understand correctly, Staroffice isn't free anymore, because when it was free, people believed it was inferior to the expensive Microsoft Office suite. This isn't an issue for Solaris, however. And Solaris 8 was available for free download. So when it's out of testing, could Solaris 9 for x86 be available for free?
    • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:28PM (#4788283) Journal
      StarOffice is listed at $79.95 for SOHO; less for larger license packs.

      Sun should just give up. Looking at the website, they still don't know how to present information so that you can make a rational decision before committing money and very expensive time to installing and evaluating the product.

      And they still present "point-and-click" interfaces as though they're something special and different. I can tell from here that unless I get some serious geek mojo going, downloading and running this is going to be a pain in the ass.

      The only feature that seems competitive is their touting of "scalability", whatever they want to mean by that. But I've got three running computers in this room, and two on the floor that I could "scale" into the network, so why would I care about massive scalability?

      Their market is small, their niche is narrow, and their execution is bush.

      Same old, same old.
      • Their market is small, their niche is narrow, and their execution is bush.

        ... and their enterprise computers are just about the best in the business. If you want a powerful mainframe type computer, Sun is your go-to guy. They offer superrior hardware (Ultra III risc chips, etc), great service, and a fantastic operating system. I've heard people claim that solaris sucks because it's so archaic. This is exactly why it works so well - it's been around for a long time, and it's tried and tested.

        There's an age-old balance, people. It's called ease-of-use versus power-and-stability. Solaris is not easy to use. It's harder to use than linux. But compare solars 7 to linux... solaris scales well down to the 12 Mhz sun 4c IPC range, while the same OS works great for enterprise servers with 64 Ultra III 500Mhz risc chips. That's scalability. It wasn't until solaris 8 that they gave up on the 4c arch. The 4m still scales well (50-110 mhz range, etc).

        If you're looking to buy a 1.3 million dollar computer, you look at sun. The small-computer market isn't the majority of their business dollars. It's the top dogs. Yet, they still listen to the people who like solaris enough to want to use it on x86. How can you fault them for this?

        Granted, 1.3 million dollar computers make up a small "niche" of the market. But someone has to fill it, and there is a lot of cash in 1.3 million.

        • OK, the O/S on IPC/IPX range is Solaris 1.x. I don't think you can put 2.x on them at all. This is SunOS 4.x which is the old BSD-based version.

          The O/S on more modern hardware from the 50MHz Sparc 10 to the Ultra III belongs to the Solaris 2.x series. Solaris 7,8 and 9 are really Solaris 2.7, 2.8 and 2.9 respectively.

          I don't think Solaris 9 support the Sparc 10/20 series anymore.

          It is still rather scalable, as you say.
          • "The O/S on more modern hardware from the 50MHz Sparc 10 to the Ultra III belongs to the Solaris 2.x series. "

            The Ultras were the ealiest machines I can remember to not be supported by 4.x. Sparc 10s, and 20s ran 4.x nicely. The latest versions of 4.x even supported dual processors on those machines.
    • by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:44PM (#4788359) Journal
      When it goes production, it will be free but you'll need to submit $20 in order to submit a bug report. ;)

      Sigh...

      This is one of those things that really gets me. If Sun was really worried about stability and security, they'd be giving it away for the masses to put through the ringer. Hell, they could even put up a few boxes on the internet for a "compromise the box and win a prize" type of test. The dollar value of different exploits could grow daily. Eventually, they'd have *proof* of the level of security available.

      Actually, MS is the company with the money to do something like this. Can you imagine if they paid the world to hack/bug test the next version of Windows for a year prior to public release? And I'm not talking chump change. Pay the people well for documenting exploits and you'll have a secure OS. That might take a little longer with a Windows OS, but with $40 Billion USD in the bank, I'm sure that it could be arranged.

      Today's "Big Hack" exploit is up to $90,000 USD.
    • by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:47PM (#4788368) Homepage Journal
      It was foolish to release it for free the first time:

      They paid for the massive bandwidth used by those that downloaded it.

      It ran on hardware that they did not sell, so they made no money there.

      Sun probably cannibalized sales of lower-end (e.g. Sun Blade 100) systems. Those who wanted to run Solaris could do so without having to buy anything from Sun.

      All of the risks and no profits. Sun had no quality control over the hardware, so if Joe Blow had a system with flaky RAM that crashed all of the time, he'd probably blame Solaris.

      It took a tremendous investment on Sun's part to make a version of Solaris that worked on such a large subsection of x86 boxes. This probably took money and time away from profit-making ventures.

      Solaris clearly will not be a serious competitor to Windows or Linux in the x86 market. Sun should never have released it in the first place and charging for it is the only rational compromise between doing the smart thing -- discontinuing it -- and appeasing the masses by giving it away for free.'

      • by binaryDigit ( 557647 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:55PM (#4788409)
        I sorta disagree.

        Sun probably cannibalized sales of lower-end (e.g. Sun Blade 100) systems. Those who wanted to run Solaris could do so without having to buy anything from Sun.

        Not really. People don't buy Sun stuff just for Solaris, they want the package. They wanted (allegedly) stable Sun hardware on (allegedly) stable Sun software. I doubt if Sun lost any money to speak of because people were buying Solaris and running it on their Dell's (I personally know of 0 companies running x86 Solaris in a production environment, I do know some that use to as a cheap developers box).

        Solaris clearly will not be a serious competitor to Windows or Linux in the x86 market.
        I agree, but you're missing the point that it was never meant to be. Sun already had a x86 port when they came out with their i386 boxes years ago. They were just leveraging that work by keeping the code base portable. It's always been a red headed step child and always will be. But generally I don't think it's that massive a drain on their resources.
        • Agreed. Very few people run sun software on x86 hardware in a production environment. Most of it is for testing, and/or just checking it out to see what it's about.

          Don't run solaris on x86 arch because it's supposedly better. On x86, there are much better OS's. If you really want an SVR4-ish nix, use a bsd or something. I don't know of any popular ones other than solaris. Whatever.

          Solaris hardware - I don't know about it being stable - it is as much as anything else, but it lasts forever and is hard working as crap. We still use Sun IPC's at my job, they're 12 mhz, late 80's or early 90's I think, and they still work great. Some of them the batteries have gone out - imagine that - the (soldered in) cmos battery goes out before the motherboard/proc/ethernet controler, etc fail. They're great for console access - if they don't detect a keyboard and monitor, output straight out the serial port.
          Solaris hardware doesn't run D.net fast, but it sure does compile things fast. Startelingly so. We have a Dual-Pentium III 1.4 Tualtin with 3 gigs of ram, and it compiles things significantly slower than our 4x300Mhz Ultra II with 1GB of ram, despite being "twice as fast".

          This is the advantage of sun. The hardware rocks. The software is built to match the hardware. I think it was more of them saying "yeah, well, if you guys want it on x86, here you go, but be aware it sucks." It might have actually made them money in that people would buy sun hardware after trying it on x86 and giving up on the crappy hardware.

          • If you really want an SVR4-ish nix, use a bsd
            Huh? That's like saying "If you really want an apple, have an orange."
          • "If you really want an SVR4-ish nix, use a bsd or something."



            Here is a shocker! I do not know if you have heard of it but there is an os called Linux!

            Linux is the only free SVR4 unix on the pc available. If you want to blow $300 for a client licensed crippled version of SVR4 that is rock solid, then try Unixware. Its the real unix from Bell labs. There is also sco openserver but it really blows from what I heard and is dying.

            *BSD is a BSD version of unix obviously. I prefer slackware, debian, or gentoo if I want a more unix like environment. Redhat and SUSE put all the config files in the wrong places and is not very unix like in my opinion.

            • but linux isn't SVR4, it was coded from the ground up. BSD was sort of forked from SVRx, but had every single piece of code rewritten by the folks at berkley.
      • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @02:00PM (#4788424)
        Sun should never have released it in the first place and charging for it is the only rational compromise between doing the smart thing -- discontinuing it -- and appeasing the masses by giving it away for free.'

        Well, yes and no. They gave it away on the same basis that they give deep discounts to educational buyers - they more people who know and like Sun equipment, the more people who will recommend buying it when they start work. Sun never intended people to do production work on Solaris x86, it was just a way to get students hooked early.

        Now, the cheap hardware is good enough that you can do useful work on it, and you are right, at the low end, SPARC kit is competing (and in many cases losing) against high-end PC kit.

        If Sun do want to give Solaris x86 away, it should be under a strict license that precludes it from being used for commercial work.
    • because when it was free, people believed it was inferior to the expensive Microsoft Office suite

      Believed? It was significantly inferior. It was majorly slow and didn't behave in a way that people had gotten used to (at least those weaned in the Windoze/Office world). I haven't looked at a version in about 2 years or so, so it could be significantly better, but I doubt it.

      Anyway, StarOffice was NEVER intended to be a MSO killer, Sun always intended it to be a Java showcase to prove that it could be used to make "real" enterprise apps (I won't even touch this subject).
      • by runenfool ( 503 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @03:02PM (#4788691)
        Staroffice was not written in Java, so I'm not sure where you get the impression it was meant to be a Java showcase.

        Sun purchased the software from a German company at version 5 (the one you probably used 2 years ago). Version 6 is a big jump in usability and performance (even though launch speed is slow).

        Is it MSO? No, but its much cheaper and it get the jobs done. Sound familiar?

        If you want to look at a very similar product, go to www.openoffice.org and download the open source cousin of StarOffice. Its not great, but its not bad - and its free!
      • StarOffice was NEVER intended to be a MSO killer, Sun always intended it to be a Java showcase...

        Actually it was exactly,/b> intended to be a Microsoft Office killer. Sun expected Java to neutralize the advantages of the Intel/Microsoft architecture. The goal was to make Java universal and then get corporate users switched over to dumb Java terminals attached to SUN mainframes running Oracle databases. This would end all those pesky Personal computers and return things back to a centralized architecture with control back with IT management rather than the users. And that would return the fat profits of the old Mainframe/Mini days of the 60s and 70s. You still see McNealy and Ellison dream of this in every speech they make. Luckily, some of us still remember white coat/glass house computing...
        • sigh Just when you think you don't need to hit preview one more time... It should have read


          StarOffice was NEVER intended to be a MSO killer, Sun always intended it to be a Java showcase...

          Actually it was exactly intended to be a Microsoft Office killer. Sun expected Java to neutralize the advantages of the Intel/Microsoft architecture. The goal was to make Java universal and then get corporate users switched over to dumb Java terminals attached to SUN mainframes running Oracle databases. This would end all those pesky Personal computers and return things back to a centralized architecture with control back with IT management rather than the users. And that would return the fat profits of the old Mainframe/Mini days of the 60s and 70s. You still see McNealy and Ellison dream of this in every speech they make. Luckily, some of us still remember white coat/glass house computing...
    • It will not be free.

      http://www.infoworld.com/articles/hn/xml/02/11/2 6/ 021126hnsolaris.xml?s=IDGNS

      "Sun, based in Santa Clara, Calif., posted the download Monday evening at the following Web site: http://wwws.sun.com/software/solaris/, charging users $20 for the software. Sun will follow up the early-access version with a completed release of Solaris 9 x86 in December. The company will probably charge $99 for a single-processor license, Loiacono said."

      This is further amplified by the following site;

      http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=1872

      And I find that it's rather preposterous to say that Sun started charging for StarOffice because people thought its $0 price tag made it inferior to Microsoft Office.

      Sun is a company like any other and it needs to see returns on investments. Sun did something rather silly which was to spend a lot of money on the dot-com bubble. The "Free for All" idea is basically dead today, as you can see many companies that used to be free are either gone or are charging. Yahoo! e-mail, PayPal and to a certain degree, even Slashdot has realised that one needs to make money in order to spend it. Hence the big bloated ads.

      There is nothing wrong with charging for software. I am sure it's possible to make a business model based on GPL software thrive, but one can't do so unless it is certain that support and other added services are needed. Not everybody who downloads a free copy of Solaris x86 is going to buy a support contract. So charging a nominal, and $99 is not a lot of money, fee will at worst weed out the people who aren't serious about using it anyway.

  • Quick Question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alethes ( 533985 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:21PM (#4788247)
    Does Sun make most of their money with their really nice hardware? If that's the case, what are the chances they could be considering opening the source for Solaris? I admit I'm fairly ignorant about Solaris, but it seems like this is a good example of a company that could benefit from opening the source of their software by, perhaps, generating a bigger demand for their hardware.
    • Re:Quick Question (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tmark ( 230091 )
      If Sun does make most of their money from their really nice hardware, how are they possibly going to benefit from opening the source ? By having everyone run Solaris on commodity x86 boxes ?
      • Re:Quick Question (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jericho4.0 ( 565125 )
        Sun hardware is miles away from x86 boxen. Solaris does not an UltraSparc make.

        Solaris on x86 boxes would allow easier intergration of workstations with Sun big iron, so it might ensure more hardware purchases in the future.

        • Solaris on x86 boxes would allow easier intergration of workstations with Sun big iron, so it might ensure more hardware purchases in the future

          And fewer sales of Sun workstations, which is why they don't do it.

    • They don't own all the code. Some of it belongs to whomever owns "real Unix" this week. Other bits are licensed from various other parties.

      Temkin
    • Re:Quick Question (Score:3, Insightful)

      by halftrack ( 454203 )
      .., perhaps, generating a bigger demand for their hardware.

      If they opensourced solaris under a normal OSS license (like GPL) people would start making it run on all kinds of hardware, and do optimization so that SUN's hardware only becomes an expensive alternative with few benefits.
    • Re:Quick Question (Score:4, Informative)

      by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:31PM (#4788300) Homepage Journal
      I spoke to someone at sun about 2 years ago who said that they'd like to OS solaris but some of it is still based on code that they licensed years ago from companies which are no longer around.

      I'm not sure if this is still the case, but it'd still require quite a lot of effort to replace this code with cleanly implemented open-sourceable code.

      It'd probably make reasonably good economic sense since x86 boxes just cant compete with the higher end sun machines - either in performance or reliability.
      • In that case, why not release what they do own, and let the OS community replace the rest?? Sun wins because they won't have to do that work themselves (tho they'll no doubt want to vet and tune the results themselves, particularly if it gets used in the next version), and everyone else wins because they'd get access to Solaris source.

    • If that's the case, what are the chances they could be considering opening the source for Solaris?

      Zilch. I doubt that Sun has full records which source file incorporated code from which source, so it will be a very significant effort to check that the publication under a free software license does not infringe on third party copyright.

      And what's so cool about Solaris? The kernel? Maybe, but certainly only the SPARC version. The userland? Oh, please, get real!

      It would be nice if Sun opened Java or the Forte compilers, granted, but this won't happen.
    • Re:Quick Question (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sean23007 ( 143364 )
      Apple makes most of their money from hardware sales too, but they didn't open the source to (the important parts of) their operating system. Granted, for Apple the important parts of the OS (GUI/look&feel) can easily be transplanted to another OS, but if it did happen, people would have less incentive to buy Apple's OS, which in turn would give them less incentive to buy Apple hardware. Sun does not want to open their source because if they did, the best parts of the OS could be transplanted to another OS, such as Linux, which would not only make Linux the obviously superior choice on x86, but would also allow it to legitimately compete on Sun's hardware. Sun should not, and will not, open their code, because if they did they would marginalize the desire for their own products, including their hardware.

      At least that's how I see it.
    • Re:Quick Question (Score:4, Informative)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday December 01, 2002 @02:46PM (#4788601) Homepage Journal
      Due to encumbrance it makes more sense for Sun (etc) to port any useful code over to Linux over time and eventually discard their own Unix or use it solely for a trusted computing platform. SGI is most likely to go this route because everything that makes IRIX special is application-level crap and some silly widget sets. Sun is least likely I think for reasons pointed out in sibling posts, specifically the fact that they sell synergy, a system whose hardware and software you know will work together.

      IBM is in the middle somewhere; on one hand people buy IBM (among other reasons) because they know IBM thinks things out the first and their systems don't change so fast. You get a solid (usually) platform which doesn't have a lot of flux. On the other hand IBM is rapidly porting everything in AIX worth a crap, like their volume manager and their filesystem, to Linux. They're also working on support for excessively multiprocessor systems, right? So soon there will be no reason to run AIX on RS/6000 except legacy apps. If IBM is smart they'll produce (and sell) an AIX emulation package for Linux and phase it out over time, putting their effort into Linux. Then they can make a new release of IBM/Linux (hee hee) whenever there's a new minor stable kernel revision, and point patches thereafter. It might also make sense just to use the linux kernel and stick with all of their commands and utilities. In fact, now that I consider it, this seems the most likely long-term road for IBM.

      Solaris is a pretty cool OS from a Unix standpoint, they certainly do things in the Unix way. It's a healthy SVR4 clone with plenty of added functionality. Sun's package manager was clearly designed from a Unix mindset. Their init system is classic System V. The system is easy to work on because it doesn't attempt to shatter your preconceptions about Unix; It looks like Unix, smells like Unix, works like Unix. The only real bummer is that you have to pay a whole hell of a lot for a compiler from Sun, or run GCC which has traditionally generated pretty slow code on sparcs. I guess GCC 3 is supposed to be MUCH better in that regard.

      Sun makes most of their money with a) really nice hardware and b) really big service contracts for really nice hardware and peripheral systems. Selling those little 400MHz PCI Ultrasparc III PCs has got to be making them almost no money, but as long as you're not actually losing cash, increasing market share is always good.

      • by Michael Wardle ( 50363 ) <mikelNO@SPAMmikelward.com> on Sunday December 01, 2002 @05:44PM (#4789513) Homepage

        Due to encumbrance it makes more sense for Sun (etc) to port any useful code over to Linux over time and eventually discard their own Unix or use it solely for a trusted computing platform. SGI is most likely to go this route because everything that makes IRIX special is application-level crap and some silly widget sets.

        IRIX has a number of assets that Linux does not have, even in the kernel space -- including scalability (support for up to 512 CPUs, 512 GiB RAM), advanced file systems (XFS journaled file system, XVM volume management), advanced networking (Clustered XFS, SAN), standards compliance (POSIX, DII-COE, Trusted IRIX), and a Unix (BSD+SysV) heritage -- that place IRIX in a different league from Linux and *BSD. It's not that these features could not be added to Linux, but at this time Linux and IRIX have different target markets.

        AIX and Solaris also have features not found in Linux, I'm just not sure why you singled IRIX out. Don't forget that SGI has also developed a reputation, particularly for high-performance systems and cutting-edge hardware.

        That said, many Unix companies do seem to be adopting Linux to some extent. Who knows what SGI will do?

    • Does Sun make most of their money with their really nice hardware?

      Heh, you've obviously not been paying attention to their stock value or earnings sheet. What makes you think they're making money? :)
  • LX50 SERVER (Score:3, Interesting)

    by didiken ( 93521 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:23PM (#4788260) Homepage
    Well the Solaris 9 x86 version is probably for their entry level LX50 servers

    http://www.sun.com/servers/entry/lx50/index.html

    what do you think ?
    • Re:LX50 SERVER (Score:2, Informative)

      by cprice ( 143407 )
      LX50 runs a sun version of Linux, hence the 'LX'.
      Maybe you should read the specs on the LX50?
      • Sun has wavered on the whole x86 thing. At first there was to be no Solaris x86 whatsoever, then saying it would be only on Sun hardware (essentially the LX50, i'm not sure if it was named that yet) then eventually saying it would have universal support as they did before.

        In part, I don't really blame them for the whole "only on our hardware" thing. x86 margins are razor thin, and OS support essentially means you have to support everything under the sun (umm, sorry about that one). By limiting Solaris to the LX50, they'd lower their device driver and general support costs. They eventually backtracked under all the pressure, and made it a general solution.
      • LX50 runs a sun version of Linux, hence the 'LX'.
        You can order the LX50 preloaded with either SunLinux 5.0 or Solaris 8 x86. The website also mentions that the LX50 will be supported under Solaris 9 x86.
  • Good! (Score:5, Informative)

    by microbob ( 29155 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:24PM (#4788264)
    I found Solaris/X86 (2.6->8.0) pretty stable.

    In fact, it has been rock solid.

    More so than Linux (Mandrake 8.2) on the very same hardware (serverworks mobos).

    • Re:Good! (Score:2, Informative)

      by MoonRider ( 31804 )
      More so than Linux

      Also, Solaris x86 supports SMP much better than any free OS available.
    • 2.6->8.0

      the box on my desk at work runs Solaris 8, which is called 2.8 when talking about compiling software for it. By 2.6->8.0, do you mean Solaris 2.6 to Solaris 2.8?
      • Uh, there is no Solaris 2.7 or Solaris 2.8, or Solaris 8.0. The naming convention goes like this:
        ... Solaris 2.6
        Solaris 7 (the 2.x was dropped)
        Solaris 8
        Solaris 9
        This is nitpicky stuff, but some people insist on using the obsolete 2.x naming, which is simply wrong.
        which is called 2.8 when talking about compiling software
        IIRC, the configure scripts of some software looks in the machine's uname output for SunOS 5.x and puts that x into Solaris 2.x to determine the machine's OS. Or something like that.
    • Re:Good! (Score:3, Informative)

      by nachoman ( 87476 )
      I don't know much about Solaris x86 but I do know about Solaris versioning.

      Solaris 6 = Solaris 2.6 = SunOS 5.6
      Solaris 7 = Solaris 2.7 = SunOS 5.7
      Solaris 8 = Solaris 2.8 = SunOS 5.8

      I assume it would follow for 9 as well.
    • I found Solaris/X86 (2.6->8.0) pretty stable. In fact, it has been rock solid.

      Yeah, but what happened when you booted it up?

  • Guess not. I liked their scheme with sol 7 and 8 better. I'm not paying $20 for something I'll probably test once.
  • Hardly useless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by InodoroPereyra ( 514794 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:31PM (#4788306)
    Yes, GNU/Linux will probably in the long run eat up all commercial Unixes, the trend goes in this direction. In the mean time, there are a lot of UNIX sysadmin positions that still require Solaris knowledge.

    So, it makes sense to run Solaris on cheap x68 hardware to get some trainning if you are going to apply for one of these jobs. It is much more fun than sysadmin'ing Win* boxes, and whenever the company switches to Linux/BSD you are already working there and you get to do real cool work ;-)

    • Re:Hardly useless (Score:5, Informative)

      by binaryDigit ( 557647 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:47PM (#4788374)
      Cheap? You can purchase SparcStation 10's or Ultra 1's on ebay for ~$20-$100 that will easily run Solaris 9. Now they won't be the most spritely, but if the issue is getting something up and going _cheaply_ can't beat it. Sure is a lot better than messing around with pc hardware that will make Solaris x86 happy. Just plop the cd's in and go. A great way to learn Solaris on the cheap.
      • Re:Hardly useless (Score:3, Informative)

        by Wiseleo ( 15092 )
        Don't learn Solaris on a PC.

        Please. For your production systems, you will have to work with differing device names and the open boot PROM. The OBP is quite different from your average PC BIOS, and you can actually program it in FORTH. In fact, we ask senior sysadmins who claim to know Sun hardware to describe simple secrets of the trade such as changing the hostid using FORTH.

        Get a SparcStation to learn this and other fun Sun-specific stuff. SEVM (also known as Veritas Volume Manager) and the DiskSuite are also only available on Solaris, AFAIK and you must know those tools. Getting Oracle to run on Solaris requires kernel modifications, so you better know that as well.

        In short, get a SparcStation 10 or 20 and learn this platform the right way.

        I can tell you differences between quarterly Solaris releases, so trust me on this.

        Leonid
    • by Wee ( 17189 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @02:52PM (#4788634)
      In the mean time, there are a lot of UNIX sysadmin positions that still require Solaris knowledge. So, it makes sense to run Solaris on cheap x68 hardware to get some trainning if you are going to apply for one of these jobs.

      While getting training on Solaris is invaluable for any *nix sysadmin worth his/her salt, it's my belief that when it comes to experience helping secure a job getting that experience on x86 hardware lies somewhere between "next to useless" and "better than nothing" on the usefulness scale. Anyone that wants Solaris software experience will also want Sparc hardware experience (disk arrays, remote mgmt cards, sbus legacy stuff, etc -- things you don't normally see on commodity PCs). They'll probably want someone who knows enough "Sun" to know what the difference beween an E420 and a SunBlade is and won't get surprised to discover that one of them doesn't have anything more than a console attached to it.

      If you want Solaris experience for a job, then you'd be better off buying an old Ultra 5 [ebay.com] for 80 bucks than paying for beta x86 software. You'll at least be able to say during your interview that although you don't have any "real world" Sun experience, you have been playing with an old Ultra in your spare time in order to get up to speed or round out your professional experience. I've seen a few people get jobs this way in fact.

      You have a much better chance if you get an old Sparc, stick it in the corner, hook up a serial cable to it and run BIND on it for internal DNS or something than playing with x86 Solaris on a PC.

      -B

    • Re:Hardly useless (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @03:24PM (#4788799)
      Why bother with x68 [sic] Solaris when you can run real Solaris on real [ebay.com] Sun hardware? You get:
      network booting
      OpenBoot
      native serial console
      fairly standard upgradeable components
      It Just Works
  • They never listent to me!
  • by Znonymous Coward ( 615009 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:45PM (#4788363) Journal
    Sun's website navigation needs help...

    Here is the direct link for download...

    http://survey.sun.com/servlet/viewsflash?cmd=sho wf orm&pollid=sol9_x86

  • Great... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spinlocked ( 462072 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:47PM (#4788370)
    ...but I still won't be able to run my desktop on Solaris, much as I'd like to, because Sun haven't got round to adding mouse wheel support (or XRender). Grrr.
  • and I got a hard copy CD for the x86, I thought it was a pretty reasonable deal. It came with all the goodies: docs, installs, language packs galore and documentation. All on a total of 6 CDs if I recall correctly. I find it a bit disconcerting that you have to pay 2/3 of that price just to download the beta and burn it to a CD. Sun may be regressing a bit because of "harsh market" troubles.
  • by astrashe ( 7452 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:49PM (#4788381) Journal
    I don't know if Sun can be said to make money on the software, or the hardware, or whatever. It seems to be more about the whole package. They make everything work together.

    I used to have a business that used Sun, and the level of support we got (mostly from our vendor, admittedly) was incredible, and we never got that "pass the buck" sort of thing where the software people blame the hardware, and the hardware people blame the software.

    I have a friend who works for sun doing support. He had a solid academic background and a number of years of experience doing system administration at fermilab before he joined the company. He spent most of his time supporting clustered systems. The point is that if you have problems and a high level support contract, you talk to smart people.

    I know that they used to have (and probably still do have) Oracle gurus on staff, because if you're a big customer you don't want to hear Sun say, "Call Oracle" and the Oracle people say, "Call Sun." You want it to work.

    And I remember once I had a system die on me, and I didn't have a spare. My vendor, who usually dealt with much larger customers, kept an inventory of stuff preboxed at an overnight shipping facility. He could call them up and tell them to ship something out as late as 8p or so, and get it there the next morning. I called him in the evening, and he got it there in the morning. He said, "We'll talk about billing later, let's get this shipped before the deadline passes."

    It's a whole different world when you have problems. That's what Sun sells. But obviously, it's a lot more expensive than taking a commodity pc that you built for $500 and putting linux on it.

    The problem Sun would have with an Open Source Solaris is that people would change it, and that would make support a lot more difficult.

    Sun's problem isn't that Solaris is missing features that open source developers could contribute, or reliability issues that volunteers could help them work out. Their problem is that they're caught in a pretty small niche, and other people with a lot of money are coming at them all the time.

    And the fact that linux is solid, and that it can be made to work creates a new problem, because it creates the possibility that another company (like RedHat) might be in a position soon to offer the same kind of "we make it work" service that Sun offers.

    I don't think there are any easy answers to these problems. Sun seems like a viable company, but they definitely have some challenges ahead.

    If you don't have a support contract, if you're a guy with a couple of sparc servers and no lifeline, Sun doesn't make so much sense. You're better off with the commodity hardware and linux. I think that tends to color the way linux guys look at Sun.
  • by Brian Stretch ( 5304 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:54PM (#4788402)
    Sun says Sol9 is Linux compatible [sun.com]. They also include many of our favorite Open Source apps [sun.com], and many of those are Sun supported.

    If we didn't need SPARC binary compatibility for some of the libraries we don't have source code for I could probably convince the Powers That Be to take a look at this at work, especially since I could build a dual CPU Athlon 2400+ development box for cheap. (I have one at home. Real MP 2400+ chips should be available later this month, saving you the nuisance of hacking XP series chips.) Being able to use the same GTK+/GNOME GUI source for both Linux and Solaris development is very, very interesting. Windows has probably already won where I work, but who knows?
  • by zardie ( 111478 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:54PM (#4788407) Homepage
    Sun only allow payment via VISA, MasterCard or AMEX. Most people who would make use of the Solaris 9 OS would be students or hobbyists such as myself. I don't have a credit card so I have no way of downloading this software as a result - cheque and postal money orders are available if I spend over US$195.

    I wouldn't expect many students to download this one as a result, so we'll have less people with experience with Solaris 9 once they graduate. Guess what? They'll all use Linux.

    Also, downloading this OS with an Australian broadband download cap is prohibitive, too, which would add extra costs as well.

    Good work, Sun!
    • Really? Things are really not the same around the western world.

      I do not know a single adult person in Norway that do not have either a VISA or a mastercard or both. Almost all VISAs are however debet cards instead of credit cards. Is there nothing like this in the US?
    • (Offtopic to all but Australians..)

      I believe the Commonwealth Bank will give you a student credit card. $400 limit or so, but that's enough to order Solaris.

      Alternately, you could try to get a debit card - a Mastercard/Visa that debits from a savings account, like EFTPOS, rather than drawing on money you don't actually have :P The big four don't do it, but I think St George's does. (Although other issues mean I'll never bank with St George's again.. sigh..) You could also try the building societies/credit unions.

  • disk requirements (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:56PM (#4788414)
    "Disk space: 600 MB for desktops; 1 GB for servers"

    I can see taking up 600 megabytes for desktops: office software, X windows, games, pretty pictures. But what is installed for a server that requires that much space?

    1 GB = Desktop Install - Office Crap - X - Games - Other junk + n megabytes for server stuff?

    How much shit could the server software possibly take? Anyone know? Unless it is just a desktop install + server software. I wouldn't want all that crap on my server.
  • by Znonymous Coward ( 615009 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @02:05PM (#4788452) Journal
    Apple is already starting off well in the Server market. What if they bough (or merged with) Sun and incorporated Sun compatibly into Mac OS X Server?

    Wouldn't that really give Apple a nice jump into the Server market? Additionally, wouldn't that give Sun some kind of a future?

    • Apple is already starting off well in the Server market. What if they bough (or merged with) Sun and incorporated Sun compatibly into Mac OS X Server?

      I don't know what this phrase means, "incorporated Sun compatibly into Mac OS X Server". If you mean, made MacOSX Server run on Sun hardware, the question is why? Apple is (apparently, reportedly) already planning to go to 64 bit PowerPC. The POWER architecture used in non-PowerPC RS/6000 systems is a great RISC setup and is easily competitive with Ultrasparc. Some would say that it's the other way around, the ultrasparc is trailing POWER. Incidentally the PowerPC 601 was a pretty straight implementation of the POWER instruction set on a 32 bit processor, since then many POWER instructions have been removed from PPC (over time.)

      As for communications between MacOSX and Solaris, Solaris is one of the Unices for which Appletalk (DDP) support was available for from antiquity, as many many schools have had a lot of macs and a lot of sun hardware. I guess macs are using Appleshare over IP now, and have been since approximately MacOS 8? So any Unix system with netatalk can support modern macs, regardless of Appletalk protocol support. (In theory one could also support Appletalk with a user space daemon anyway, I wonder why this isn't done already? Or maybe it is now.)

      And as to MacOSX server being able to talk to Unix, this is a non-issue since it already is Unix, and as such should be capable of speaking NFS, Coda, Intermezzo, or whatever else gets spliced onto it. I'm sure it does NFS out of the box, or at least I'd hope it would; Making it speak NIS, Kerberos, or whatever else SHOULD be no harder than implementing it on FreeBSD.

      Wouldn't that really give Apple a nice jump into the Server market? Additionally, wouldn't that give Sun some kind of a future?

      Buying Sun would give anyone a nice jump into the server market. Sun controls a significant portion of that space now. I don't know that Apple could actually afford them though, they must be worth an awful lot between accounts receivable (for their service contracts) and material assets.

      It remains to be seen whether or not Sun has a continuing future in its, er, future. Certainly IBM is going to be giving them serious trouble if they start offering linux-based clusters of RS/6000s with 64 bit POWER or PowerPC architecture.

    • Funny, it wasn't too long ago that the rumour mill was churning out stories about Sun buying Apple. Times do change, don't they?

      Sun and Apple probably don't have a whole lot to offer each other as long as Sun stays on the Sparc platform and Apple on PPC. Both have install bases that are far too big to change over. Sun's workstation market doesn't need pretty boxes or built-in screens, and apple's server maket doesn't need 64-way SMP systems.

      So right now I don't think they really have much to contribute to each other's tech, since Apple wouldn't want to lose sales of their own workstations by giving sun Quartz, and Sun wouldn't want to lose any of their server sales by giving apple access to their interconnect technology.
  • But. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 01, 2002 @02:09PM (#4788469)
    with all that software, they will have to call it Gnu/Solaris.
  • Is to run it on their bulletproof Sparc servers.

    Why degrade the product with the x86 platform?

    Opinion of course.
  • by dagg ( 153577 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @02:47PM (#4788604) Journal
    1. open source
    2. java
    3. hardware
    4. proprietary software
    5. fight Microsoft
    That would be ok if they were making money in each of those "fields". But I don't think they are. It seems like they are being pushed back from every direction.

    I think x86 Solaris is a symptom of their problems; it is not a cure.

    --

    Sex on a linux box [tilegarden.com]
  • $20??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nnet ( 20306 )
    Why would I pay to test when I should be paid to test?
  • Can you give me any reason why should I use Solaris instead Linux on x86?
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Funny)

      by sstory ( 538486 )
      Solaris is more esoteric. Therefore a good percentage of /.ers will think you're cooler if you use it.
    • Can you give me any reason why should I use Solaris instead Linux on x86?


      Because you want to train for Solaris certification without buying yet another box?
  • I've said it before, and I'll say it again, some of you should stop representing yourselves stupidly. "Sun has listent to their costomers"? Stop reading Arcane CLI Commands Vol III, put on a fresh Queen Amidala T-shirt, and go learn some English.
    • Re:spelling etc (Score:2, Informative)

      by dubstop ( 136484 )
      OK, the spelling is lousy, but the meaning is pretty clear. From the look of this guy's nick, he's scandinavian, probably Norwegian. Maybe you're a polyglot, but I'm not, and I have a lot of respect for people that have taken the trouble to learn my language (perhaps imperfectly), when I'm too lazy to learn theirs.
  • C'mon people - a decade ago you'd be questioning the validity of Yet Another DOS or NOS and why anyone would need it.

    Why do I need yet another Unix clone for Intel and why would I want to waste any time learing it or supporting it, particularly a version from a company that is ambivalent, at best about it.

  • I mean hey they happen. Even if TWICE in one artcle, and goes thru the moderators. Even this is statistically possible. Forcus on content please.
  • Whilst Sun hardware seems to be built to a markedly higher standard than Intel hardware, there are always risks in going it alone. For all those people toutings Sun's "legendary reliability" it would pay to remember the hardware problems they had a couple of years ago with the UltraSparc II, as reported: here [computerworld.com] and here [computerworld.com] in ComputerWorld.

    Whilst towards the end they got their act together, the inital response was the same (perhaps even more dubious) than any other vendor. First, deny any problem exists - then try and cover it up (some customers had to sign non-disclosure agreements about the problem, apparently in return for Sun's commitment to fix it in a timely manner). Lastly, claim that the problem caused "no data loss" and was someone elses fault anyway.

    If your Compaq server is giving you problems, in the worst case you can ditch it for another brand, eg Dell. If your Sun hardware has an endemic problem, and all your software is build around Solaris, where do you go ?

    This is not a tirade against Sun, in general their hardware is a lot better than most, and Solaris remains one of the benchmarks against which other *nix's are judged. It is just a reminder that even the big boys can have quality control and/or reliability problems.

    • by spinlocked ( 462072 ) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @07:01PM (#4789917)
      If your Sun hardware has an endemic problem, and all your software is build around Solaris, where do you go?

      Fujitsu?

      I wouldn't, but you do have a choice. Every systems vendor has product issues from time to time. They all try to hush things up initially, because they are not necessarily aware that the problem is widespread and there's no point in causing panic - especially when initial findings pointed to environmental factors such as heat/EM noise. A single hardware issue is unlikely to affect all models and Sun was more than happy to generously discount on future purchases in order to keep the business. SunService did a stirling job during the E-cache (and the GBIC) issues. My systems were clustered and the problem was taken very seriously by Sun, I suffered little downtime and as such I have few complaints.
  • One thing has certainly improved with WebStart since the last time I tried it. Kiosk mode includes a web browser that is active throughout the main part of the install/upgrade. So, I hear about the early release from Sun on Slashdot, run off to give my 20 bucks to sun for the ISOs, download them (RCN rocks!), burn them and start the install. Then I log on to Slashdot to record my impressions while the installer is doing its thing.

    One thing hasn't changed, however. The installer is still slower than dried guano on an iceberg. I mean, my dual PIII 800 is slow by today's standards, but Linux goes on in a jiffy. They obviously aren't trying to compete with Tux with this product anymore, so there's no incentive to compete feature-for-feature. But I still wonder why this thing takes three hours or so, not counting downloading/burning.
  • Installer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Otis_INF ( 130595 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @03:12AM (#4791698) Homepage
    The question is... did they update the installer for Solaris on Intel or does the user still have to use a version of fdisk which was also part of MSDos 1.0 ?

    And does it support multiboot or not?

A sine curve goes off to infinity, or at least the end of the blackboard. -- Prof. Steiner

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