Linked by Robert Escue on Wed 20th Sep 2006 17:45 UTC
Sun Solaris, OpenSolaris Sun Microsystems makes new releases of Solaris about every four to six months, in many cases all the new release contains is bug fixes and some changes in functionality. More often than not most releases go by without a great deal of fanfare. Just as Solaris 10 3/05 broke new ground with Zones, Dtrace and the Service Management Facility. Solaris 10 6/06 introduces ZFS or Zettabyte File System and the SATA framework and Xorg 6.9, which will be the primary focus of this review.
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Correction
by rayiner on Wed 20th Sep 2006 18:15 UTC
rayiner
Member since:
2005-07-06

It is more likely that your average enthusiast is going to buy a motherboard or controller card with a Silicon Image card than buy a LSI Logic card that costs considerably more than most motherboards.

By that, you mean, "It is more likely that your average server admin is going to buy a LSI Logic card that costs considerably more than most enthusiasts' motherboards."

Reply Score: 1

RE: Correction
by Robert Escue on Wed 20th Sep 2006 18:49 UTC in reply to "Correction"
Robert Escue Member since:
2005-07-08

Actually what I should have said was that an enthusiast will buy a motherboard or an expansion card with a Silicon Image controller logic before they spend the money on an LSI (or similar high-end) card.

The administrator is of course going to spend big bucks on the LSI (or similar) card. But if Sun is truly trying to get home hobbyists and users interested in Solaris, then Sun is going to have to make some compromizes on what hardware they intend to support.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Correction
by rayiner on Wed 20th Sep 2006 23:26 UTC in reply to "Correction"
rayiner Member since:
2005-07-06

But if Sun is truly trying to get home hobbyists and users interested in Solaris

What makes you think Sun gives a rat's ass about home hobbyists? Even Open Solaris is targetted at developers, and it happened mainly because Sun's engineers wanted it and Sun's customers wanted it. It doesn't make any sense at all for Sun to have hobbyists on their radar.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Correction
by Robert Escue on Thu 21st Sep 2006 00:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Correction"
Robert Escue Member since:
2005-07-08

Isn't that how Linux started, as something for "developers only"? I can't agree with you at all considering what I read on a daily basis from the various OpenSolaris forums.

And why wouldn't Sun be interested in the viewpoint of the hobbyist, that is how Linux migrated from the basement to the server room. For a long time Sun ignored Solaris x86 until several Sun officials met with the "Secret Six" and they demonstrated the value of continued development and support of Solaris x86. I personally think they are listening intently to those hobbyists.

Reply Score: 1

Overall, it's a pretty good "quick" review.
by ormandj on Wed 20th Sep 2006 18:24 UTC
ormandj
Member since:
2005-10-09

Not a bad review. You did hit on some of the nice selling points of Solaris. It seems you are targetting the developer-type audience, and if that was your intent, you hit on the big issue - X/video card support. It's something Sun does need to work on tremendously.

The other biggie you touched on lightly, but needs a good beating - is the installer. It really is terrible. Now, that being said, most everybody who uses Solaris for any length of time, sets up a jumpstart server and installs that way. It's fine for server admins, but it really shouldn't be necessary for devs to have to jump through some hoops to get Solaris installed in a reasonable fashion.

Both of these are known and acknowledged issues, I just don't know at what priority they have been placed. ;)

Thanks for the summary review. ;)

Reply Score: 2

palowoda Member since:
2006-09-20

>Not a bad review. You did hit on some of the nice >selling points of Solaris. It seems you are targetting >the developer-type audience, and if that was your >intent, you hit on the big issue - X/video card support. >It's something Sun does need to work on tremendously.

I'm supprised the Xorg Nvidia drivers didn't work I thought they where upgraded already. Never the less
Solaris has the same issues with video drivers as say
Linux of BSD they use the same source base. Or close
6.9 and 7.0 isn't tied to any video driver. One thing
you don't even care about using the native Nvidia driver
with Solaris x86/x64. You want to download the drivers
form the Nvidia site and take advantage of OpenGL
and all the hardware excelleration. Now it would be
nice if Sun just delivered the Nvidia drivers with
the system and I think they are working on this. You
can do it with linux distributions no reason why
you can't do it with Solaris.

By the way the OpenSolaris discussion site has a
pretty good list of the changes that go into Solaris
x86/x64.
http://opensolaris.org/os/community/x_win/changelogs/changelogs-nv_...
You can see when/if your bug gets integrated. Even logging the bug is free and getting the status or asking questions about if and when it would be fixed
is free. Actually I just wish they take Xsun out of
the picture altoghther for the x86/x64 platform but
I think Xsun is needed for the SunRay servers.

---Bob

Reply Score: 2

Robert Escue Member since:
2005-07-08

The nVidia card is the only one I didn't have to fight with in order for it to work (the 7300 GS). The motherboard integrated 6100 and the ATI card is where I had the problems.

I know nVidia has a Solaris x86 driver, but it appears to be for the Quadro series of cards that are used in the Sun Ultra workstation series, so I never tried it.

Reply Score: 1

ormandj Member since:
2005-10-09

It works for the geforce series quite well. It just isn't supported. It worked with my 7900gt just fine.

Reply Score: 2

Robert Escue Member since:
2005-07-08

Must be nice to have deep pockets! ;)

Reply Score: 1

palowoda Member since:
2006-09-20

>I know nVidia has a Solaris x86 driver, but it appears >to be for the Quadro series of cards that are used in >the Sun Ultra workstation series, so I never tried it.

Actually the Nvidia Solaris x86 drivers should work
with all versions of Nvidia chipsets. I have a
7800GTX Nvidia in my Sager 9750 laptop that works the
Solaris x86 Nvidia driver. Much of the embedded
Nvidia mortherboars (video) seems to work with the
drivers from Nvidia.

As for Xorg drivers not coming up with the correct
initial resolution during installation you could
consider this a bug and log the bug on opensolaris.org
site and they do address these types of issues. Heck
they address more than that I had a bug with my Nvidia
7800gtx 6months ago causing a panic and Sun fixed
that also. I've never seen them not address a bug
with a good description and feedback just like any
other open source platform. But than again Xorg
is not Sun or Solaris specific to begin with. Sun
does have engineers in the X organization.

I wish ATI would become more active in the Unix/Linux/BSD community. Maybe with the AMD
byout they will.

---Bob

Reply Score: 1

Robert Escue Member since:
2005-07-08

Thanks. The focus on the problem I have with X is due to installation differences. On a SPARC for the most part you don't worry about the frame buffer, it is usually detected and the appropriate driver/resolution is set for you. It should also be that way for x86 with supported cards. In the past with Solaris (up to Solaris 10 1/06) I was able to use an ATI video card with no problems after setting the resolution in kdmconfig during installation. This is the first Release of Solaris where I had trouble with a supported card.

I really don't have a problem with the installer other than a couple of questionable screens that I think could go away. I feel a number of people would agree that it takes far too long to install Solaris, but that horse has been beat to death already.

Reply Score: 1

ZFS?
by chicklin on Wed 20th Sep 2006 19:03 UTC
chicklin
Member since:
2006-01-05

Maybe I need to do some more reading or something, but I still don't see what all the fuss is about ZFS. I'm most familiar with the volume managers from Linux (LVM2, EVMS) and AIX (LVM) and their associated filesystems (EXT3, reiser, JFS, JFS2, etc.) and I guess I don't see what ZFS can do that the right combination of those technologies can't. Can someone give me a quick rundown of why ZFS is better than LVM2+Reiser or AIX LVM+JFS2?

Reply Score: 1

RE: ZFS?
by wazoox on Wed 20th Sep 2006 20:05 UTC in reply to "ZFS?"
wazoox Member since:
2005-07-14

I think ZFS offers completely end-to-end integrated seamless tools, while LVM+whateverFS requires that you manage by hand many things, using tons of pvcreate, vgcreate, lvcreate, mkfs, etc. instead of just 2 commands in ZFS.
BTW LVM can't do RAID-4 or RAID-5, and overall LVM performance sucks(especially snapshots slow down the disk performance enormously).

Reply Score: 5

RE: ZFS?
by Robert Escue on Wed 20th Sep 2006 22:45 UTC in reply to "ZFS?"
Robert Escue Member since:
2005-07-08

My AIX skills are a little rusty but if I am not mistaken you cannot create a RAID 5 array using the AIX LVM, only RAID 0 (stripes) or RAID 1 (mirrors). You either have to use a hardware based solution or use Veritas Volume Manager (VxVM) in order to do it in software. Either way it makes an expensive solution if you want fault tolerant storage and that still does not address ZFS' capability for snapshots, which comes at no extra cost.

Reply Score: 2

SATA2 Support
by Sir Al on Wed 20th Sep 2006 19:11 UTC
Sir Al
Member since:
2005-08-08

Solaris 10 06/06 also has SATA framework support for Marvell 88SX60xx and Marvell 88SX50xx based HBAs using the marvell88sx driver.

I wanted a cheap SATA2 300Mbit/sec controller card supported at this speed in Solaris using the native SATA framework. After looking around, I chose the Supermicro AoC-SAT2-MV8 card, less than $100 for 8 ports.

I hope in the future we'll see more support for SATA2 controllers.

Reply Score: 2

RE: SATA2 Support
by ormandj on Wed 20th Sep 2006 19:36 UTC in reply to "SATA2 Support"
ormandj Member since:
2005-10-09

The funny thing is, none of our drives are capable of 300mbit/s, short of burst from cache. It's all moot. ;) I don't understand this demand for SATA2. Once we have media that can actually USE the additional bandwidth, I'll understand - but as SATA/SATA2 is per-drive, and not shared, the BW is far more than sufficient even for 15k drives.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: SATA2 Support
by Sir Al on Wed 20th Sep 2006 21:30 UTC in reply to "RE: SATA2 Support"
Sir Al Member since:
2005-08-08

Well, actually all my drives are capable of 300Mbit/sec, which is 37.5MB/sec. I guess we confused MB with Mbit; SATA 3Gb/sec can go up to 300MB/sec.

That said, cache burst speed is somewhat important for me as my drives can transfer over 200MB/s from cache. So why limit them to 150MB/sec? Of course this speed difference is barely noticeable except in certain occasions.

The real reason why I want SATA 3.0 Gb/sec is not because of the bandwidth, but because of the features it brings compared to SATA 1.5 Gb/sec, such as NCQ, HotPlug, Staggered Spinup, Port Multiplication, Port Selection, eSATA and xSATA. Plus, why choose a standard from 2002 when you can choose one from 2005, if it works?

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: SATA2 Support
by ormandj on Wed 20th Sep 2006 21:42 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: SATA2 Support"
ormandj Member since:
2005-10-09

My apologies, I copied the mbit/s from the previous post mentally, without thinking about it. ;) Yes, MB/s.

The cache improvement really won't be noticible. ;) Cache generally isn't for a large amount of data (can't be, caches are 8/16MB generally) - so it's all overkill. When we get new disk tech, that's when the speed of SATA2 will be nice.

A lot of those things you mentioned are available with SATA1 as well. I'm not really sure I understand your logic there. ;)

Now, the standard solution - that I can go with. ;) Since SATA2 is backwards compatible, I suppose it makes sense to impliment support for SATA2 devices, as they are likely to be more common in the near future.

Right now though, Solaris has a LOT of things it needs to support HW wise, and I suspect SATA controllers are pretty far down on the list of what needs to be supported first. I've got a half dozen machines Solaris won't even boot off the cd into the installer on. ;)

Reply Score: 1

ZFS is really, reaaly nice
by AndrewZ on Wed 20th Sep 2006 20:03 UTC
AndrewZ
Member since:
2005-11-15

Maybe I need to do some more reading or something, but I still don't see what all the fuss is about ZFS.

I took a hard look at ZFS when it came out early release last year. I read the manual cover to cover. As an admin I can say that ZFS does a really, really good job of providing enterprise level disk/volume/partition/RAID/etc management AND (big And here) has an interface that is easy to love.

If you don't manage a lot of disk space, you don't care about ZFS. If you have ever created a RAID volume, ZFS makes it easier the next time around, from a software perspective.

ZFS is the good stuff.

Reply Score: 5

Nice GUI!
by mkools on Wed 20th Sep 2006 20:05 UTC
mkools
Member since:
2005-10-11

I'm not familiar with Solaris at all, but looking at the screenshots, is that GNOME? That GUI looks really nice compared to the one's shipped with other Linux distro's. Can I use this WM on any Linux distro?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Nice GUI!
by Simon Gray on Wed 20th Sep 2006 20:36 UTC in reply to "Nice GUI!"
Simon Gray Member since:
2006-06-04

It's just Gnome with a custom button for the Gnome menu (no, not a custom menu) and they've removed the top panel. You can easily customise your Gnome desktop to look exactly like that one.

Edited 2006-09-20 20:37

Reply Score: 2

RE: Nice GUI!
by taos on Thu 21st Sep 2006 03:34 UTC in reply to "Nice GUI!"
taos Member since:
2005-11-16

Well, check out the more recent (two-month old) JDS (Gnome) on Sun's OpenSolaris distribution:
http://www.pbase.com/taochen/image/62600948/original

Reply Score: 1

Very nice, Sun...
by tomcat on Wed 20th Sep 2006 20:39 UTC
tomcat
Member since:
2006-01-06

I'll give this a try.

Reply Score: 3

Antiquated Hardware and fair comparisons
by gadster on Wed 20th Sep 2006 21:29 UTC
gadster
Member since:
2006-09-06

Your use of a Sun Blade 100 for a technical analysis, on the SPARC side, including your comments about IDE limitations needs is missing a large disclaimer from you, that this is a FIVE YEAR OLD entry level workstation. Would you write a review today of Windows Vista or XP running on circa-Y2K 800 MHZ AMD hardware? I have a PC from 2000 (about the same design year as the Sun Blade 100) that can't accomodate IDE drives larger than 137GB for the same reason as the SB100 - the disk controller chip is too old. I don't however fault the OS; it's simply a hardware limitation. Would I write a review of Ubuntu Dapper Drake running on my old system? Probably not.

Other than this important omission, nice review!

Reply Score: 2

Robert Escue Member since:
2005-07-08

The reason why I used a Blade 100 is because that is what I have available at work that I can stick on my desk. The management would have a problem with me using one of our 4800's and the SAN. At some point in the future I might replace it with a Blade 2000 (Fibre Channel drives instead of IDE).

Reply Score: 1

gadster Member since:
2006-09-06

Fair enough - you test with what you have, and maybe it's just a testament to some of Sun's warhorse workstations that seem to last forever, but even your Blade 2000 (~ Y2002 hardware) is out of date if you are doing any modern OS reviews, especially comparisons between SPARC and (hp|dell|ibm) x86 gear. I just read about some other dude using an Ultra-5 (introduced in 1996?) to compare Solaris vs. Suse running on some type of hopped up Pentium 4. PeeCee shops seem to churn their desktops every 18-24 months; I still see Ultra-1's out there!

Reply Score: 1

Solaris not for hobbyists
by AndrewZ on Thu 21st Sep 2006 01:04 UTC
AndrewZ
Member since:
2005-11-15

But if Sun is truly trying to get home hobbyists and users interested in Solaris

Honestly, I don't think Sun is spending any effort at all marketing or developing Solaris for hobbyists. And frankly, I don't think Solaris is a good fit for most hobbyists either. I think the Open Solaris projects are good for tech-savy people who want a good challenge. Personally, I think Solaris has more of a learning curve than Linux and I think it is less appropriate as a desktop solution.

Solaris is a enterprise solution and as such it is geared more for servers and for larger numbers of installations.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Solaris not for hobbyists
by Robert Escue on Thu 21st Sep 2006 09:08 UTC in reply to "Solaris not for hobbyists"
Robert Escue Member since:
2005-07-08

And what exactly makes Solaris "harder" to use than Linux? The argument that you make for Solaris can me made for Linux if you look at it from a neophyte user's prespective.

Reply Score: 3

Sata / SPARC
by Francis85 on Thu 21st Sep 2006 21:21 UTC
Francis85
Member since:
2006-05-21

I'm not sure if I got this right or not but does the Sparc version of Solaris 10 6/06 supports Sata (Silicon image...) or is it limited to the x86 version?

I have some Mac Sil3112 card, that obviously gets recognized by the openfirmware on my Ultra60, but I'd need to know if Solaris actually supports it. Last time I checked on their site, SATA was only available for their x86 versions of Solaris..

Reply Score: 1

RE: Sata / SPARC
by Robert Escue on Thu 21st Sep 2006 22:49 UTC in reply to "Sata / SPARC"
Robert Escue Member since:
2005-07-08

This is the result of a quick Google search, the answer is yes but it is not cheap:

http://www.unixzone.dk/unix/20060218/sata-on-sparc-solaris/

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Sata / SPARC
by Francis85 on Fri 22nd Sep 2006 06:08 UTC in reply to "RE: Sata / SPARC"
Francis85 Member since:
2006-05-21

>This is the result of a quick Google search, the answer is yes but it is not cheap:<snip>

That dates back from February.. I wonder if anything has changed in this regard though.

Reply Score: 1