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Solaris vs. Linux: Framework for the Comparison

by Dr Nikolai Bezroukov


 

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10. Acknowledgements

HP's Solaris to Linux Migration whitepaper  served as a source of additional inspiration in version 0.4. IBM's "Migrating to Linux or AIX from Solaris OS" CD ROM helped to put Power5 family in proper perspective relative to UltraSparc and Opteron in version 0.89.

Wiley Sanders (Yipes Enterprise Services) provided his valuable feedback about quality of X2100 as well as difficulties of switching from Solaris on Sparc to Solaris on Opteron.

Many readers provided valuable feedback on early versions of the paper and that sustains this volunteer project on its path for more then a year.  Positive feedback was a great stimulus to expand further topics covered in the  paper as each feedback provide different unique insights into the situation and the author would like to thank all reader who send such feedback no matter positive or negative for encouragement.  Also I think that for some readers the arguments were convincing enough to try Solaris. In such cases I think the paper despite all its deficiencies achieved it mission. Here is one example of this genre:

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov,

Thank you for this article. It is one of the most informative on the subject that I have ever seen. I have used Linux for about 11 years, and used it at ISP's before the dot com bust. Linux has come a long way for sure, and I will continue to use it where appropriate. For a while, I've been watching Solaris and wondering if it would really make for a "better Linux than Linux".

I have been thinking of installing it more at my customers sites and using Linux less. This article has given me the inspiration to push forward and invest more time and resources into Solaris. In the long run, I think my customers will benefit ! Although Solaris X86 has been around since version 8, (if I remember correctly), I was afraid to really use it in a production environment, and attaining a high end Sparc system was out of the question at the time. With Sun solidly behind Opteron, I am excited about the prospects !

As an interesting sidenote.... I once had a Sun 4/110. The external hard drive sounded like an airplane taking off. The proc ran at something like 13mhz. It had a manufacture date of 1989 and the monitor was 21 inches, had red/green/blue cables and weighed about 100 lbs... would had made a great boat anchor. I GAVE IT AWAY because i couldn't stop playing with it and was loosing time on other projects ! I wish I still had it ! Things have come a long way haven't they ! Anyway, good luck and thanks so much for the article.

Jay

Among letters sent to the author there was also a large, almost daily stream of letters from Linux enthusiasts who criticized almost everything the article stated and thus provided important stimulus for the author to review and sharpen focus of  some statements. For some people it is difficult to believe that their beloved OS does not invoke excitement of specialists who get used to other systems :-).  For example one permanent stream of mails, while sometimes contains interesting observations, completely mixes enterprise distributions and large enterprise environment with experimental distributions and university environment (note, for example, claims about stack protection with PaX protection in the letter reproduced below).  Here is one typical letter belonging to this genre nicely favored with an appropriate doze of misplaced indignation (from Samy Al Bahra (gwu.edu), received Mar 3, 2007):

I am a major Solaris fan, and a major FreeBSD fan. As someone extremely interested in operating system design and implementation both platforms definitely provide better examples of sober engineering and elegant hackery.

However, your article titled "Solaris vs Linux" is absolute cruft backed by unsubstantiated claims. There are many benchmarks that speak against Solaris when compared to Linux for small-to-large (not huge) machines. Yes, Solaris scales well on HUGE machines (16 processors, etc...) but even scalability comes at a cost (fine grained locks, component based design, etc...). Solaris is also more reliable. But Zones was an innovation based on the FreeBSD jails concept phk@FreeBSD pioneered (which is similar to the OS/2 sandbox idea).

Even though Linux is not a complete engineering success, it does run on many critical networks and as an open popular platform did attract the proper target audience to innovate in security. Get it right, through the PaX patch, Linux was the first system to truly provide non-executable stack and *comprehensive* buffer overflow protection even on x86 processors lacking nx.

Regarding file-system performance, it was not until ZFS that Solaris actually performed well here :-) Before that, countless benchmarks will completely nark on it. Benchmarks published so far, are sketchy (independent benchmarks, BTW) for ZFS. ZFS is by far a superior architecture in terms of scalability/management/reliability (which implies integrity). However, there are file-system options for Linux much more diverse which you fail to look at (XFS?! Lustre?!)

Also, Opteron as an architecture is not 'superior' to the Intel Core 2 Duo Extreme architecture in any light, whatsoever. As a concept, yes, ccNUMA is the future. But the performance gold cup still goes to Intel (it was only in a small time frame with Intel Core 2 Duo's shared cache architecture that Opteron out-performed Intel's multi-core offerings). UltraSparc is good for through-put computing, but is completely pathetic when compared to Itanium (and the EPIC architecture). Computational abilities of UltraSparc are also limited. If anything, UltraSparc has always been a good winner in I/O (and the T1 release was definitely a big win for UltraSparc viability).

Anyways, I could go on and on about your article. All that time you spent typing and bashing on Linux could've been spent doing real research and *truly* highlighting the areas Solaris deserves credit for (for example, not listing VFS, a CORE concept in UNIX now, as a SUN innovation...or looking at dtrace) and in the mean time, you could've also truly highlighted areas Linux has innovated (things like kexec, LSM, PaX, vm86, ALSA, etc...). Such ranting is not a contribution of any sort really.

Good job writing a lot though! Contact the SUN marketing team some day (though they're even more honest).

There is another category of readers who accept validity of some critique (although often forget that this article is about enterprise environment and only about enterprise environment) but think that my claims that BSD flavors of Unix are more true to the spirit of open source then linux simply untrue. To be perfectly clear -- I'm not a Linux basher, but I think that linux proponents often try to rewrite the history and/or miss several important facts (sometimes just due to ignorance: in general few people pay due attention to studying the history of software engineering in general and OS development in particular ) :

Here is one example of this genre that contain an interesting allusion between linux-way and Microsoft-way "We know that Linux neither is the best or was the first in anything and that is part of the Linux way: Linux is an all-rounder, like the human being. " (letter from Tim Tassonis, Switzerland received June 24, 2007): 

I thought your articles very quite an interesting read. However, I fear you are disqualifying your work as serious by your constant rants against Linux and Linus Torvalds and your hailings of the wonderful BSD.

Contrary to what you constantly claim, we Linux users are not as blind and daft as you think. We know Linus Torvalds did not invent UNIX (he knows it too...), we have heard of BSD and don't think it's worse than Linux.

We know that Linux neither is the best or was the first in anything and that is part of the Linux way: Linux is an all-rounder, like the human being. That is one reason of its success and why I love it. The other reason for its success is that it quickly ran on more crap hardware than any other system apart from Windows, so we mere mortals were actually able to use it on our crap PC's.

And we all always knew that Eric Raymond is a self-centered idiot and gun fanatic, no news there as well.

But go on and tell the world about divine BSD/Solaris/OSX and how we're all fooled by the big Linus Torvalds conspiracy.

He IS an Illuminati, after all.

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Created Jan 2, 2005.  Last modified: June 04, 2016