How Far We've Come

Sys Admin Days

The first of what I hope are many OTN Sysadmin Days had its debut in San Diego, my home town, this week. The topic: Oracle Solaris 11 Express. So, I had the pleasure of having Rick (working with one of the attendees in the picture to the right) in town with a roomful of sys admins – our favorite people – staring at laptops as they worked through exercises designed to build a better understanding of our next generation operating system.

Solaris 11! Oh, my! I feel a reminiscence coming on... When I joined Sun (23 years and one day after our first OTN Sysadmin Day), the battle was to get people to simply accept Unix. The marketplace was dominated by proprietary operating systems, like VMS and Aegis (remember them?), and it was often difficult to simply get our foot in the door. We were, of course, running SunOS 3.5, a BSD derivative, at the time. It was often a hard sell. We targeted sys admins, telling them that "if you let Unix be your friend, it will be a very good friend." And the sys admins became our good friends, although we may have occasionally strained that friendship.

Unix was splintering and evolving very quickly back then. We ran everything in 2 MB of memory, although everyone knew 4 MB was much, much better...if you could get it. Nowadays, we often try to squeeze things on our home systems into 2 GB of memory, knowing that 4 GB is much, much better.

Remember when we "abandoned" BSD and embraced SVR4? Same language, different dialect, but boy did that make life a challenge. The evolution to Solaris was important – and often painful – for us, but it had to be done. It would have been difficult for us to even conceptualize such things as ZFS and Oracle Solaris Containers. Features we now take them for granted.

Also, remember when many of those proprietary houses took notice of this important trend, and tried to slow progress by establishing OSF, which Scott McNealy characteristically quipped stood for "Oppose Sun Forever"? Those were the good old days!

So, I take my hat off to the "pioneers" of our next operating system. I might call them "brave," but that label rightfully goes to those early adopters of Solaris 7, back in 1998. Solaris 11 is just "more, better."

- Kemer

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Contributors:
Rick Ramsey
Kemer Thomson
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