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Opening Solaris - page 8

The Solaris 10 Pitch

  • September 15, 2005
  • By Martin C. Brown

Despite the obvious driver problems experienced on commodity x86 hardware, there is not much else to criticize about Solaris 10/OpenSolaris. There are some obvious gaps which should be addressed over the long term--better updates and patching processes, for example, and an improved administration framework would go a long way to help new users unfamiliar with the Solaris environment.

Beyond these problems, there is a lot to like. The flexibility of Solaris zones becomes almost infectious and the information that can be gleaned from DTrace makes both programming and administration much easier when something goes wrong.

Is it a viable alternative to Linux? Absolutely. In the last six months I've had no problems with Solaris 10 crashing, locking up or exhibiting odd behaviour. By comparison, my Gentoo-based systems have not been so well behaved. A SPARCserver 20 running Gentoo simply freezes after about six days and requires a hardware reset. My PC-based Gentoo installation often freezes if there's an NFS issue on the network and I have to reboot it.

In terms of application support there are few things from the Linux world which wont compile and install perfectly on Solaris. Certainly the toolkits of many users and developers--gcc, emacs, MySQL, Perl, etc.--will work without fault. In many cases for all sorts of software, a Solaris port existed long before Linux was even a twinkle in Linus' eye, so this is little surprise.

The biggest obstacles to OpenSolaris/Solaris 10 are the technical ones I've mentioned coupled with the licensing issues of the CDDL. To many Linux users the CDDL is less than ideal. While I don't think Solaris is a Linux killer, I don't doubt that it will have a much bigger part to play in the area of desktop operating system alternatives in years to come.

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