Sun Microsystems launched a handful of initiatives Monday designed to promote its talent to run Solaris on x86 systems. The company is trying to build on its install base of Solaris deployments, which are popular in the telecommunications, financial services, healthcare, and government sectors, but have experienced increased competition from Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and enterprise Linux offerings from Red Hat or SUSE.
Sun Bundles x86 Solaris Systems for a Song
2004-04-19 Solaris 13 Comments
This is a great idea. Solaris is an incredibly reliable and scalable OS. It supports real enterprise applications, is compatible with your Sparc servers, and runs a wide variety of Linux freeware. If I could run my company on Solaris instead of Windows2000 I sure would.
all that is true for linux as well. sun should accept the truth: they can’t compete with free. solaris will die. all your (user)base are belong to us!
Well if Sun put the effort in developing Solaris x86 as they do Solaris sparc, would indeed would be a kickbutt enterprise platform but right now, the effort seems half baked, at best. Either give it your all or drop it.
I agree, Solaris x86 is a solid operating system. Sun has done an excellent job of rolling out advanced features, and Solaris 10 (express, whatever) looks to raise the bar, so to speak.
However, Sun has a bit of a credibility problem when it comes to x86. They’ve touted it and dropped it before, to the point of being scitzophrenic about it.
They’ve done the same thing with Linux recently. Initially, their line was that it had no place on a server. Now, they’ll sell it to you, but they’d rather you bought Solaris x86 instead. Now they’re embracing Linux, although they may be making efforts to replace Linux with Solaris in the Sun Java Desktop.
Sun has had the problem of being addicted to their own hardware sales. The Sun Ultra 5 almost didn’t make it to market because people might use it as a web server (it served well as one) instead of the far more lucrative E250s at $25-30k a pop. And indeed, that became the case.
The Sun 1U systems (Netra/X1/SunFire)s was fought internally, because they were so inexpensive, it was feared they’d cut into their more lucrative systems. And indeed, that became the case. It wasn’t until recently that Sun’s idea of a “entry level” server was below $10,000.
While UltraSPARC is still viable on the high-end (price/performance gets close to Intel), it’s crap on the low end. Take a look at the Sun Fire 100. A pathetic 550 MHz processor (1999 called, they want their processor speeds back), 512 MB of RAM, for $1,400.
For an x86 system, even running Solaris x86, you can get a system about 4 times as powerful for half the price.
My Ultra 5 came out in 1998 with a 333 MHz processor, and today there are systems offered by Sun with the same UltraSPARC IIi processor (with actually 1/4 of the cache of my Ultra 5) at less than twice the speed, and it’s 5 years later, is rediculous.
In 1998, Intel’s fastest processor was about the 500 MHz PIII. The 333 MHz UltraSPARC IIi was among Sun’s slowest. Now the tables have turned. Intel doesn’t offer a chip as slow as the 550 MHz UltraSPARC IIi even its cheapest model (and no, I’m not talking just clock speeds, but SPEC results), and Intels fastest is faster than Sun’s fastest, x86 or IA-64.
Sun is finally owning up that they’re getting killed on the low/entry level systems on the price/performance ratio of x86/Intel/AMD systems. Hopefully it’s not too late. I still like Sun, and I love Solaris. I’d hate to seem them die.
this is what happens when you let career managers at a successful company.
sun, apple, microsoft, acorn, and many more were started by enthusiastic technical people with a vision. then they were successful. then they attracted career managers and CTOs and key-note speakers, and coference attendees….
The statement that Solaris x86 receives second treatment to Solaris SPARC is ludicrous.
Say what you will about the prices of their hardware or their marketing practices, but at the core of the system, x86 is every bit as equal as SPARC. Yes, they goofed when they dropped support for Solaris x86 a few years back, but it was widely known that support from within the kernel group never wavered.
Witness the fact that the two most powerful and revolutionary technologies in Solaris 10, Zones (http://www.sun.com/bigadmin/content/zones) and DTrace (http://www.sun.com/bigadmin/content/dtrace) are both available in their entirety on both SPARC and x86. Add to that the upcoming greenline, self-healing capabilities, and zettabyte file system (rumours abound in forums), and Solaris 10 has technology that Linux can’t even touch. Not to mention the same rock-solid reliability – exactly the same on x86 as on SPARC.
I agree that other areas of Sun have yet to embrace Solaris x86 as a viable platform (witness StarOffice). Sun has also taken a long time to embrace x86 in their hardware strategy. But there’s a distinction between Sun the company and Solaris. And you can bet that Jonathan Swartz as COO will bring the company into alignment even faster.
Solaris is not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s a great OS, and it’s central to Sun’s strategy. You could never get me to trade my laptop running Solaris Express for one running Linux. Ever.
You’ve made some good points, also, remember that Solaris 10 will have the huge changes, so when one does move from Solaris 9 to Solaris 10, you will see a massive improvement in regards to speed and hardware support.
As for the Opteron hardware, from what I’ve heard from SUN HQ, alot of customers are holding back until the end of the year when SUN will release beefy SMP Opteron servers loaded with a 64bit Solaris for Opteron.
It’s time we stop talking about linux being “free” in the enterprise server space. Anyone involved in IT in financial or big business knows that ‘Linux = Redhat’. Big businesses want support models and upgrade plans – they don’t want to download some ISO images of your favorite distro and install it on their business-critical systems. Redhat’s enterprise pricing model isn’t exactly free.
And once you get to the enterprise space, you can forget about portability. Enterprise linux apps are written for RedHat; it’s about as easy to switch linux distros as it is to switch to solaris. Now, wouldn’t a binary compatibility guarantee like solaris be nice? It’s comforting to know that your app written for Solaris 2.2 on your SparcStation will still run on Solaris 10 on your E15K, without recompilation.
Put these two together, and enterprise linux turns into a restrictive lock-in system which costs more than a comparable Solaris system (Sun is key on this point – they offer solaris licenses at $100 less than RHEL last I checked). You really need to talk to someone who has bought the entire company into a Redhat support contract to really see this in action – it’s not a pretty sight.
Solaris is not competing against slackware or debian; they are competing with enterprise linux solutions. Now, Java Desktop System on Solaris would be competing on a “closer to free” level. But again, it would probably be with Novell/Suse and other corporate-style distributions. And who knows if JDS/Solaris is even in the cards.
I recently tried Solaris Express (Feb release, I believe), and I would have to agree with you.
Sure, the eyecandy is nonexistent, setting up X is downright painful, and driver support is abysmal, but the UI is clean & consistent, it’s fecking fast (even on my ageing system), and, so far at least, rock solid.
I haven’t had a chance to test out the linux binary compatability yet, but I know several sites are providing collections of GNU apps for Sol x86.
Can’t wait till the 05/04 release (which should introduce ZFS and SATA support). Yay!
Install the XFree86 porting kit, and downloaded KDE 3.2.1 from the Blastwave packages, from what I have heard, it is quite a nice desktop to use. About the only complaint from me, like you, is the abysmal hardware support.
As I said in the Solaris x86 mailing list; the operating system is perfect, it is the hardware support that lets it down.
Sun should do Solaris more compatible with linux in terms of admin know-how. Solaris should come with the same KDE and/or Gnome by default, use rpm or deb package format, use apt-get/yum/urpmi for package management, etc.
Why not make a GNU/Solaris distribution ? It would be the GNU and linux userland with Solaris kernel.
Speaking as a Solaris 10 beta tester, it’s very impressive. The zones feature alone will help Sun sell bigger systems by playing on the consolidation card. I’ve found that it runs faster on my UltraSparc boxes than Solaris 9. I was using Solaris 9 when it was at build 23 and saw how much faster and feature rich it was over Solaris 8. So each version is getting better. Solaris 10 will bring about some incredible changes and improvements, especially around security.
As for running Solaris on x86, it’s a little more complicated because of the hardware support. The good thing though is that Sun is trying harder to get the support where it needs to be. Support for Opteron systems will help Sun out a lot later this year when there are SMP boxes and 64bit support.
As for JDS, I’ve tested it out on my PC at work. It booted up, found all my hardware, graphics came up without any configuration, and best of all.. it saw all the network shares automaticly. It’s very impressive and I think Sun will do well with it in the corporate desktop world. It’ll help Sun push technologies, like Sun Ray’s.
Sun is working on making Solaris a little more LFS compliant, but I disagree with any suggestions to place Solaris ontop of a GNU userland. The reason is that it would break POSIX and UNIX standards.. remember Solaris is a real UNIX. This is why Sun has been very wise about which GNU utils to bring into the Solaris OEM. Look in /usr/sfw for GNU utililities:)
use rpm or deb package format
Solaris has an EXCELLENT package managemet system, wich is also standards compliant. It allows you to easily package your software, it allows you to create and execute pre, post and other install scripts, it allows you to do basic things very simply and still have the power to do very weird and convoluted installations, if necesary. It allows for a very powerful patch management and deployment system. Most importantly, it allows for Jumpstart installation, Flash archive deployments, Live Update upgrades and other very useful things I could not live without.
Sun would be MAD to replace their packaging system!!