Sun Microsystems made two strategic moves Monday to answer calls from its user base, by announcing the company’s first general-purpose server to run Linux and bringing back a version of its Solaris operating system that runs on Intel chips. From September, Sun will offer Solaris x86 8.0, alongside Linux on its new ‘Big Bear’ Intel hardware that it will announce this morning in San Francisco. And from early next year, Solaris 9.0 for Intel will be an option, too. Read the news at InfoWorld and TheRegister. Our Take: It seems that the SecretSix team made it! x86 Solaris 9 is back!
Sun Shows Linux Server, Solaris 9 on Intel
Submitted by Member of the \'Secret Six\' 2002-08-12 Solaris 30 Comments
hopefully it does better than the last “Big Bear” did…aka Soviet Union
What/who is the secret six? I must have missed something. I guess that’s the secret part.
About time some reliable intel hardware with a reliable OS was out there. Go big bear and Solaris.
Apparently the secret six are a group of 6 individuals who lobbied/whined to Sun so that they reconsider their removal of Solaris/x86.
I dont think this move will do the company good. Supporting 2 operating systems, and for 2 types of CPUs will not be easy. It seems to me like they are just jumping on the linux bandwagon, only later than everyone else.
last but not least…lol@reliable intel hardware.
is it actually possible to run this on a NORMAL system?
i’ve tried to install it (Solaris/x86 8) on three different computers and each one hangs during the install with cryptic error messages like “cannot read fdisk partition” or “not a UFS partition” or “kmem error: freeing memory block already freed”
there are a couple dozen officially supported systems, but mine is obviously not one of those
I’m pretty sure i remember seeing my friend install it (though probably not run it as he just likes installing *nix systems then letting them rot until he finds a new one) on his Athlon 800 with 256megs RAM on an Asus motherboard. Come to think of it, we never could finish an install for some reason or another.
I had the same problem installing Solaris on x86 hardware. Try installing by booting to disk 2 – that works.
I’ve tested this on a number of machines – booting to disk 2 is the solution.
Won’t this throw a wrench into Sun’s plans to have Solaris be the premiere OS? It seems they want to put linux on the lower level machines and only put Solaris on the “Big Iron”. Putting Solaris on x86 means allowing it to be put on some of the most mediocre chips available.
This just smells of marketing department control…
I had few problems installing it on my machine, the most notable was lacking a supported network and video card, of which there are few. But, other than that, I liked it. Straight away I had a nice Solaris based environment. Very nice.
I fear that those whoe cried out for Solaris x86 may have got what they asked for, but not what they wanted.
By now selling its own, dedicated x86 hardware (versus the appliance base Cobalt series), Sun could much more easily support an x86 based server, as they’ll have much more control over the actual hardware being run and supported.
That makes the differences between SPARC and x86 less of a problem.
By not supporting White Box hardware, x86 Solaris will not have the affect on the general population that it could have. I think a lot of people wanting Solaris x86 wanted to run it on generic hardware.
However, supporting it on their own hardware gives admins more flexibility in deploying hardware. Perhaps the x86 Sun Servers offers a good value to a Sun based company, having them run Solaris x86 makes them even more valuable.
So, I think its smart for Sun, but I don’t think that Solaris x86 is going to escape out into the wild like some supporters had hoped.
Can anyone out there tell me if Solaris x86 has the same kind of heavy-duty multi-processing, big iron capabilities that its SPARC brother has, or is it just a small workstation OS?
If Solaris x86 is (or becomes) as well developed as Solaris SPARC, then I see this as potentially a big threat to Linux. Wouldn’t most corporate types feel more comfortable running a Sun product that is more highly evolved than an open source product, especially on the bigger 16+ proc x86 and Itanium2 systems that are starting to emerge? IIRC, Linux is still excremental when it comes to SMP jobs.
I applaud Sun’s decision to bring back Solaris x86, here is why…
“So, I have an old 200Mhz machine just sitting around with 198MB of RAM in it. This machine installs and runs Solaris 8.0 x86 without an issue. Sure, it was a pain in the rear to get installed the first few times, took forever too. However, in the end, it worked fine and I was able to start playing around with Solaris and seeing what makes it tick.
I plan on learning what I can about how Solaris operates to be able to apply for a position with another group in the company that I work for. Something that will get off of this help desk and give me access to Sun hardware and a bigger paycheck.”
That was me just a year ago. While I wasn’t able to move into another department (Something even better came along.) I learned a great deal about a “real” UNIX that IS used by many major corporations as the backbone of their datacenters.
Use Solaris x86 as the tool that it is. Something to learn the basics of the Solaris Operating Environment. Then use that knowledge to see about moving up in the corporate environment. Then, you will be able to afford real Sun hardware and thus increase your knowlede even greater than before.
I see it exactly this way as Will. By supporting only their servers they have much less problems with their Solaris OS and they can also hope to sell more hardware, because the people want the software for learning or also for delevoping. They learned from Apple quite a lot. But I really doubt that will last too long. I dont think there will be Solaris version ported to Itanium 2. Sun is too late. They also learned from IBM that, you just have to put your foot between the doors of the customer, then you can sell him whatever you want.
I think Sun is trying to catch market share here, but honestly… If I want to run Linux on Intel hardware, I would go search somewhere else. Dell, Compaq, etc have more knowledge and experiences with Intel Hardware. I don’t see any reason why I should choose SUN for Intel/Linux.
But still, I am a Solaris Administrator and I still believe that Solaris on SPARC is pretty darn good.
We’ll see in a few months what it worth.
And where is the Sun Linux OS? Does anybody have an idea what they are doing or working with? Would it be downloadable?
Re: Solaris on x86: I never had problems with Solaris 2.6 However, Solaris 8 never ran on my dell latitude laptop. Keyboard would hang during install, unless you used a usb keyboard, which defeats the whole purpose of carrying a laptop. Like I said however, the earlier solaris ran just fine, so you might wanna try those
I’ll try and address a few of the questions.
1: Solaris x86 has been around for years, many major companies run in for mission critical applications.
2: Why did we want Solaris x86 back? See Question 1.
Seriously it’s a damned good OS for a number of reasons.
Stability, Scalability: The limit on number of processors is the same of Solaris/Sparc or limited by the platform.
Solaris x86 shares approximately 97% of the code with Solaris/Sparc.
3: No we didn’t immediately get everything we wanted, but there’s more in the works from what I’ve been told that will allow us to get everything.
4: Why won’t Solaris x86 run on my system?
If it’s not on Sun’s HCL it’s basically a craps shoot due to limited driver support. We’re working with Sun to address this.
5: Solaris 8 Doesn’t run on my Dell Laptop due to keyboard problems. Check Sunsolve, I think there’s a patch available patch to correct this problem.
6: The name “Secret Six” was coined by one of it’s members.
We’ve cursed him ever since We’ve never been a secret organization, although we’ve had to adhere to a “gentlemen’s NDA” with Sun that was necessary to conduct the negotiations.
If Solaris x86 is 97% the same code as Solaris SPARC and has all of the same SMP and uber-features, who would possibly want to be running Linux in any serious server situation when that kind of power is available as an alternative, unless they are insane?
If the driver/HCL situation for Solaris x86 improves, Linux should not stand a chance in the higher-end x86 world against Solaris and should be struggling to even get on lower-end servers for that matter.
I guess it all depends on exactly what Sun wants to do with it, whatever that might be. Solaris x86 could be a very disruptive technology in the server world if Sun plays their cards right.
We aim to to please, Gil
Acutally, the driver situation has been improving. Sun has released their xfree-86 driver kit that supports many more
video cards than previously. Apparently, this support has been integrated into Solaris 9 x86.
They work beautifully on my Toshiba Tecra 8200 with a Trident CyberBlade XP 16M card running Solaris 8 x86.
As far as other drivers go, we’re working with Sun to increase driver support for other common devices.
I expect to see some increased driver support in the future. We’re still bound by the “gentlemen’s NDA” in some areas, but keep an eye out for some good things coming in the future.
One very nice thing about Solaris x86 that I didn’t mention
in my other posts. With the exception of actual devices, it looks the same from an E15K on down to my Toshiba Tecra.
Am I wrong in saying that solaris 8 is a slug on intel hardware? Seemed to run like a slug on my Duron 750 with 1G of ram. One would think there would be pretty decent performance having dealt with FreeBSD and Linux of various flavors. Perhaps the “big iron” features simply snap the spine of most X86 systems? Do tell!
ps. good work btw.
No, you’re not entirely wrong, PC Dude. It depends on the
hardware that you have. Solaris, both platforms, have always been optimized for high quality hardware. In this case, I suspect you’re running IDE, which is a relative newcomer to Solaris. Solaris is extremely fast, provided that you have high quality (e.g. fast SCSI), supported hardware. IDE suffers for it’s newness on Solaris.
Hopefully, this will be corrected in later releases.
Go to docs.sun.com and look up mount options for Solaris 8, specfically the “noatime” option. This option updates inodes everytime a file is access with the file’s access time. If it’s not critical for your use, it can be disabled to speed things up some.
Hey, I’m writing this on a Blade 100 with IDE disks.
The system’s okay, but the disk subsystem sucks
I’ve also run it on a 486 DX2-66 way back when
Fortunately, that was a long time ago. I’m feeling much better now.
Rule of thumb: If you want top-notch performance for Solaris x86, give it the best HCL listed hardware you possibly can. Odds are you won’t be disappointed.
I also run it at work with an IBM 5000 something or other server with RAID-5 Ultra 160 SCSI disks. It smokes.
If you’ve got specific questions about Solaris x86 on certain hardware try subscribing to the firstname.lastname@example.org mailing list.
There’s a huge amount of experience with Solaris x86 there.
Be prepared to be roasted alive if you don’t provide
specific hardware configurations or error messages for the machines affected, though. Oh, and please do RTFM first
PS: Thanks! Everyone on the yahoogroups and al.solaris.x86 pitched on this one, though. The Six were just the visible messengers/nags/whiners/conscience
Sun did good too. They listened to their customers and acted accordingly. Sun deserves some applause for doing the right thing.
Earlier I stated that “noatime” updates the inode with the access time, that’s incorrect. It disables this update.
The atime option is on by default.
Check out the “logging” option to mount also, it’s saved me from rebuilding systems from backups a few times. In a nutshell it provides a journalling filesystem.
I also mentioned the “al.solaris.x86.” This newgroup is
Apologies to all.
Here are some resources that may help to get it running on
email@example.com # Mailing list very good support. Read my caveats about being prepared, though!
There are more out there, but I’m too lazy to post them now
You are definitely right about the hardware quality affecting Solaris x86 performance!
I have a 500MHz K6 system with 5 5400RPM 4GB UW-SCSI disks, which blows away an 800MHz PIII system with 2 7200RPM 20GB ATA-100 disks. Both systems have 384MB PC-100 RAM.
And other members of your team too.
It’s really greate to see Solaris x86 back.
I had it running on my laptop for a while – it’s incredibly useful for IT consultants – test a shell script, check out docs, compile the program.
On the side note – what’s your thoughts about Sun Blade 100
station ? Is it worth to buy or better to get a good x86 box for the same money and put Solaris on it ? I mean performance wise. I may still go with Sun Blade as I want to play with 64-bit CPU, although.
Nope, thank you, Vlad. It’s due to people like you who helped Sun see the error of their ways. Sun deserves credit for being big enough to admit that they screwed up, and by asking their customers their opinions of what to do abut it. We were just the messengers.
There’s going to be some more interesting news about Solaris x86 coming out of SunNetwork next month from what I hear, so stay tuned!
Blade 100’s are just okay machines. Nothing fancy, nothing really special except the price. If you want a cheap 64 bit Sun box, it’s worth a look. But a decent PC with good,
HCL listed hardware could easily outperform a Blade 100.
I’ve got one at home, and for my needs it’s not bad. I do a little compiling, testing software, etc. but nothing really heavy duty. Like all hardware, your mileage may vary. The look a lot like the old Packard Bell PC’s, but it’s the usual Sun “built like a tank” engineering.
If you do buy one, rip out the IDE and put in a cheap LSI Logic SCSI card and some good UW SCSI disks, it’ll help the performance tremendously. And always feed your system with lots of RAM, anything less than 256M these days will disappoint. 128M is the bare minimum I’d consider using.
After stupidly posting my email address here, I got spammed a few times list night. Good thing for Postfix and RBL
So, the previous “You know who” was from me.
I’m one of the Not So Secret-Six.
http://www.riddleware.com not ORG. John fat fingered that one I guess.
Thoughts on the Blade100. I would not waste my money on one of those POS. We got 100 of them where I work.
Give me a Intel Box of the same price and it will run circles around the Blade100. Of course if you need to run Sparc binearies or do 64 bit it is OK, but I’de opt for a few more $$ and get something used with SCSI.
Regarding performance (PDdude) I scrapped together a couple of notes from Al Hopper. http://www.riddleware.com/solx86/Tuning_solx86.html
for Gil Bates
SolarisX86 is as rock solid as it’s SPARC bretheran, no ifs and or buts. Unless you got junk for hardware.
This is a bit off topic, but I think you guys will be able to answer this for me easily…
SGI is known for amazing backward-compatibility of the IRIX OS. You can buy an old refurbished 1991 Indigo (MIPS R4000) and it will run the very latest current version of IRIX (6.8.15, or whatever they are at now). This is great for someone who doesn’t want to spend much money but wants to tinker with IRIX (I will be doing this at some point in the future).
Can someone tell me how far back the latest version of Solaris SPARC will run on older Sun hardware? I have some links to some vendors who offer older refurbished Sun equipment and I would like to know how many years I can go back and still use the latest version of Solaris if I decide to buy something from them.
Thanks in advance.
Yes, I see that IRIX is actually at 6.5.16. Sorry.
Solaris 9 will run on any Sun4u or Sun4m system. Meaning
that you could run it on an old Sparc 5 (sun4m) on up to an E15K. I’ve actually run it on an old SS5 as a firewall, so I know it works.
The real problem crops up on newer hardware, for example the Blade 100, and other 64-bit only boxes. These will only run 8 and above.
Solaris 8 was a pain to install if you have a harddrive problem but I found if you still want to do the nice pretty install that CD one offers then install with CD two then of course when that gets done put CD one back in and you are off to the races with it finding your hard drive properly.
Also in Solaris 8 Sun descided to throw out all ISA pretty much anything ISA as well as anything considered ‘old’. They didn’t even seem to notice that NE2000 was also a PCI card… but anyways they are work arounds for just about any problem with Solaris 8 mostly in the form of finding a Solaris 7 driver that was built in on Solaris 7 offline and moving it over to Solaris 8. Even got NE2000 ISA ethernet to work just fine, but I don’t see someone using Solaris Intel when they could be using Linux Intel or Solaris Sparc.
I have a question what should the price difference be for Intel server with Sun Solaris on it or Intel server with Sun Linux on it? If more then why bother and not move up to the Sparc? Or can’t afford that just pay less and get the Linux it will still have support by Sun and offer some, of the same software combined just for Sun Linux and no other.
> Solaris 8 was a pain to install if you have a harddrive
1: Don’t use bad equipment. Solaris is very picky about this and will more than likely fail to install. Bad equipment == Bad Results. Keep in mind, Solaris x86 is a direct port of Sparc Solaris with a few changes to support the x86 architecture. In datacenters where Sparcs are typically used, harware failures can’t be tolerated, which is why Solaris is so demanding in it’s hardware requirements. It’s silly and pointless to blame the OS for problems created by faulty harware.
2: Toss the “Installation CD” or better yet, use it as a beer coaster. Install from CD1 to avoid that webstart silliness.
NE200 PCI cards:
Yep, ISA is deader than the Dodo in Solaris x86, mainly due to cost, and the fact that it’s a technology that’s outlived its usefulness except for hobbyists. Keep in mind that when Solaris 8 came out, internal support for Solaris x86 was already waning within Sun and lots of things got ignored or forgotten. We’re beginning to work with Sun to fix these problems now.
Price differential between Sun Linux and Solaris x86?
There is none. From what I understand, the LX50 will ship with both OS’s on CD/DVD whatever, but you’ll be asked when ordering which you want preinstalled.