Headlines! Headlines! Headlines!

Solaris raring for a fight with Linux: "And we thought it was all about peace, love, and ... Solaris. But no, Sun is gearing up for one of the classic open source battles. We've had the various Linux distributions duking it out, and we've had MySQL versus PostgreSQL. Now we're getting Solaris versus Linux, and this is a fight that I believe may actually be worth having." -- Matt Asay


This "battle" tone is all over the web now. I'm not sure where it started, but it seemed to flame up last night around midnight. What I find interesting is that Matt uses the phrase "we're getting Solaris versus Linux" to point to an article titled "OpenSolaris will challenge Linux says Sun" which is actually an abridged article from the more aptly titled "Sun: Coders key to Solaris' rise" published last week.

I blogged about that original article because I loved the quote in there about the OpenSolaris Community. But the version that has people all worked up today is missing eight paragraphs of text from the original. Why? Read both of them and you'll see the clear difference in tone. And why all the wild headline changes, too? Even if you read the version Matt points to you'd be hard pressed to find anything in the article to substantiate the headline. I mean, really, this is silly. Sun's Ian Murdock and Marc Hamilton were talking about how the OpenSolaris community is growing, how the technology is improving, and some of the plans we are kicking around to improve things. That's pretty much it. So, where's the war here?

Oh, and also, the OpenSolaris community isn't taking the bait, which is very cool. This is now the second or third time recently where the community has utterly ignored media and/or blog flame fests. Heck, we've had enough of our own flames in the past, so perhaps we're moving on and just focusing on the job at hand -- building the OpenSolaris community organically and improving this technology openly.

Well said Jim. I for one, am not "battling" Linux, nor am I trying to "wage war", "conflict with", "beat" Linux or any other aggressive terms that probably make good journalistic copy.

I want to help make OpenSolaris the best it can be, but there's loads of room for Linux in my universe. Heterogeneity is a good thing.

Posted by Tim Foster on September 05, 2007 at 12:00 PM JST #

I've been using Linux since...well...not exactly what year, but it was version 0.99pl14. I've been using all sorts of Linuxes, from slackware to SuSE to RedHat, Fedora and now Ubuntu. I must say, in some ways Solaris10 kicks some Linux ass. The device setup (annoying "touch /reconfigure;reboot") could be better, but as a pro Unix (not referring to the fact I'm a Unix pro) I like it more than lets say AIX or HP-UX or what have you.
The installation requires a little more apps to breaktrough on the desktop though. When (if?) that's the case, I will swap my Ubuntu for Solaris.

Posted by SwitchBL8 on September 05, 2007 at 12:02 PM JST #

<i>And why all the wild headline changes, too?</i>

Because it generates interest? Isn't that what the media has always done? Journalists have always slapped a provocative slant on something to get people reading it. In this case it has worked, there appears to be more interest in the media and blogging world in the later, provocative, article than the earlier, more balanced, one.

Posted by Phillip Fayers on September 05, 2007 at 12:35 PM JST #

> annoying "touch /reconfigure;reboot")

Or, simply "devfsadm" - no reboot required ...

Posted by Tom on September 05, 2007 at 01:46 PM JST #

@Tom: thanks. Much easier indeed!

Posted by SwitchBL8 on September 05, 2007 at 02:56 PM JST #


I have to be honest here as a long time reader, first time writer and long time Linux user, that I think a war would be a good thing...and let me explain why.

I work for software companies that are sick_and_tired of trying to figure out which versions of Linux we are going to support. At two companies I worked for, we had an internal battle of Biblical proportions over this. What it came down to is Red Hat, SuSE and Asianux.

However, some of our largest customers (who are also HUGE Sun customers) said "now wait just a minute..." One customer (who I would be willing to tell you about off-line) said "I tried Red Hat, and it didn't perform to our needs, so we're going to OpenSolaris, because we're a long-time Sun shop, and we know it will work as it always has."

My point of view is this. I started off as a 2.5 admin in 1992 and have been a Sun / Solaris advocate since then. However, because I could not afford a Sparc server I switched to Linux. Once OpenSolaris came out and it worked flawlessly, I have even switched it to my desktop!

I am a Pre Sales engineer in the IT world who has to talk to customers every single day about these issues, and the customers are tiring of being pounded by which Linux distro to use, or to stick with Solaris or to move to Windows, etc...they just don't know. So I think as long as Sun can get companies such as CA, Symantec, BMC, EMC, etc. etc. to embrace OpenSolaris on x86 and FULLY support it with their products, OpenSolaris will eventually come out the winner, and in the end, the customer wins.

Posted by David Meyer on September 05, 2007 at 04:05 PM JST #

I am a Linux user PC LINUX OS 07 (new to it and really emjoying it) I was interested in Solaris 10 and ordered the DVD. I installed it, and have been using it here and there. I enjoy using the JAVA desktop and like the different atmosphere
PCLinuxOS 2007 is my first choice OS, and Solaris 10 is my second... But with all this Linux bashing comming from Solaris, I'm beggining to think about 86ing the Solaris 10!!!!
If this is where SOaris is going to concentrate all it's effort.... then they are going to lose quite a few potential future users.
There are some Linux users out there who have been keeping an eye on Solaris, getting more curious of it, and thinking about giving it a try.... but with all this uneeded and unprovoked, immature bickering and bashing Solaris is pulling.... its just gonna steer them all away.
Why not just work at what you do, and compete in a mature way.... Why start all this media fight hype just to get publicity?? I think it's bad publicity Solaris is making themselves out to look like idiots.
I just think this is entirely the wrong way to go about it all If Solaris were to do a 360 on this , and began working "with" Linux.... the MS and Mac world would be in a world of hurt..... think about it

Posted by geminiguy on September 05, 2007 at 04:23 PM JST #

I don't see anything that seriously bashes Linux here. We are all users, and in my case, I have several customers that were using Linux in a VERY heavy way that are going to go back to Solaris on x86, because they felt that while Red Hat EL was a good alternative, it didn't meet their needs. I am talking about a customer who spends almost five hundred million USD every year on IT. They gave Linux a serious look and ran it in production for a while, but for what they were using it for...heavy I/O, database transactions and app servers, Solaris did a better job.

We need to face facts here...Linux is a great OS, but Unix has been around a long time...a lot longer than Linux. I'm a Linux user. I started with Red Hat in 1997 and have used Debian, SuSE, Mandrake (eventually Mandriva), Turbo Linux and Asianux in that time. I have also worked full-time (professionally) for a large software company on their Linux and Open Source team. I know and maintain contacts in the Linux professional community and I am a big believer in Open Source. But at some point we have to look at what our customers are saying. I can say all I want to, but until I bring a real customer with real revenue attached to it, NOBODY listens.

I personally think a war is a good thing. I think the Linux forking that has happened has hurt Linux in a big way. I think the forking has hurt IT users in a big way. Why? Because I STILL run into people who decide to roll out Linux in an enterprise environment, and pick something like Slackware, which has almost no support from the enterprise software world. I kid you not...this customer, and ISP, rolled out five hundred physical servers running Slackware without noticing that Slackware was not supported for a majority of their corporate standard (Veritas file system, CA's security and backup). I see it every single day, and it is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

I'm sorry if I appear to be bashing Linux, because I am not trying to. I love Linux, and have worked professionally in it for some time. However, when my customers complain and SHOW me why it won't work, I have to listen. I don't have a choice, no matter how strongly I feel that EVERY company should support Debian.

Posted by David Meyer on September 05, 2007 at 04:49 PM JST #

What? Messages get changed along the way? That would never happen!

It reminds me of this oldie, but goodie: http://www.getamused.com/jokes/0241072.html

Posted by Swashbuckler on September 05, 2007 at 05:51 PM JST #

What exactly is wrong with Slackware and Debian? I have found them to be more stable and reliable than any of the "enterprise" Linux distributions. I'd rather choose Solaris or BSD over either Red Hat or SUSE.

Posted by psychicist on September 05, 2007 at 07:18 PM JST #

I could care less about headlines or wars; when Solaris runs on hardware that I use (COTS Intel/AMD gear) I will give it another shot. When I got the OpenSolaris DVD set (with dev tools) I tried it on all of my hardware (~ 12 machines ranging from single-core x86 machines to dual-core 64-bit boxen) and it refused to install on a single one. Note that every one of these boxes run dandy with various flavors of linux ranging from Sarge to Redhat and everything inbetween. When I get a new box I still pull the DVD out and give it a shot but it continues to fail, not always in the same place. Maybe I need to try another version (the media passes QA checks) or something. I \*really\* wanted to like and use Solaris because the of rep with the dev community which is my bread and butter. Alas, if it will not install, I cannot use it. This sort of thing means a lot more than headlines and often-wrong Matt Asays drivel...

Posted by Jeff Cobb on September 05, 2007 at 08:03 PM JST #

I guess I'm really confused. Whatever the headline, I saw the blog entry as very positive for both Linux AND Solaris. I think competition is good, and don't bother trying to convince the world that this isn't about competition. Of course it is. You would rather have people using Solaris. Red Hat/Novell/etc. would rather have the world using Linux. Can we grant that?

As for citing Ian, Ian is a friend and he clearly wants to win. Citing him doesn't help your cause.

Nor should it. I'm not sure why there's such a "dove-like" desire to placate on this issue. Why shouldn't Solaris stand up and fight? This is one of the best competitions I've seen in the open source world in some time: two great technologies vying to be the preferred solution, with customers benefiting as a result.

Why is this a bad thing? You may think I was trying to create misleading headlines, but I was just going off the article I read (not the one to which it was referring). Do I think it's accurate? Yes, I still do, because you've not said anything that would lead me to believe that Sun is lying down to let Linux run over it.

Nor should you. We'd all be the poorer if you did that.

Posted by Matt Asay on September 05, 2007 at 08:52 PM JST #

You know what would be nice?? A "common-ground" forum where Linux and Solaris users could interact.....!!!!!!

Posted by geminiguy on September 05, 2007 at 09:16 PM JST #

I don't have a lot of confidence that Sun can build a community equivalent to what Linus has done. That said, it wouldn't be a bad thing, really, if they did.

Except that eventually the two systems are going to be basically identical in functionality if not in the means by which they realize that functionality. One may have either more functionality or more performance in a given area than the other, and vice versa, but basically they're going to end up being the "same thing" in some sense. That is, IF Solaris can develop a sufficiently large community to overtake the Linux advantage in that respect.

Solaris may have been around longer as a "real" UNIX, but Linux has its own advantages in being newer and originally open source - less baggage and more community.

Personally, I think anybody who complains about the variety of Linux distros really doesn't understand the Linux market. Ninety nine percent of Linux distros are not relevant to the corporate marketplace. The corporate world wants support - which means they are limited to Red Hat, Novell, Mandriva, Xandros, Canonical, and a few others. The rest are for Linux enthusiasts or specialty markets who KNOW which one they need. While the few corporate ready distros above may present a support problem for developers, corporations really don't care. And even for developers, in most cases it boils down to desktop and package management support - and a program written for one desktop is likely to run on any of those distros anyway. And how hard is it to package the program in both deb and rpm formats? If this is a showstopper, your company is too small to matter.

As long as the intent in both camps is to concentrate on improving each OS, and less on flame wars, the competition will serve both - and the end users - well.

Posted by Richard Steven Hack on September 05, 2007 at 11:04 PM JST #

Well said Mr. Hack. Well said. The problem we face when we go into a customer site is that very often they have data center staff who have implemented their favorite distro, and done it really well, but in the end, it isn't supported.

Personally, I'm well invested personally and professionally, in the Linux community. Over the years I have gotten to work with Linus, Mad Dog, Larry Augustine and others. It was the best time of my professional career because it put the fun back into computing. Over dinner in Las Vegas four years ago I told Linus what Linux meant to me. It gave me a purpose in IT again. But then the company I was with did what so many others have done...they went and decided to support only XXX distro, and no matter how hard I fought, or anyone on our team fought, once the corporate talking heads made up their mind, it was done.

I think the Linux community is its own best advocate and worst enemy. We say how great Linux is, but then we flight like mad over the stupidest issues anywhere. Rather than infighting and forking off yet another in a long list of distros, we need to FOCUS on three our four "commercial" distros, including a desktop version that we ALL want to agree on and then we'll see what Linux can really be. Until then, I think we'll never get to where we want to be.

Posted by David Meyer on September 06, 2007 at 03:18 AM JST #

hey, Matt. Well, what can I say. I disagree. :)

I would have supported your position and the language you use to express it a few years ago, but I've evolved my view on this substantially. And, no, I don't think you are trying to create misleading headlines. I just disagree with your characterization of the events, that's all.

I probably should have been more clear that I'm really commenting more on the /rhetoric/ around the so-called competition than the potential for competition itself. Sure, there is competition in all this, as there is in everything. And that's good. But there is also lot of cooperation, too, as there is in everything, and that seems to get lost when the conversation focuses only on competition. Both are necessary for success, though. Also, I've worked very hard to promote the idea of reducing our own rhetoric at Sun and on OpenSolaris so that we are not always reacting to attacks and attacking back. I think it's good to respond to defend and correct, but not to attack back. That's difficult to do, however, when the environment is based only on competition.

In general, I think that Silicon Valley focuses far too much on competition and competition based on one person (or company or technology) winning and the other losing. I just don't see it that way. Linux will not lose if Solaris wins, and Solaris will not lose if Linux wins. The market is far too big and complex for one winner and one loser to the exclusion of everything else. And what about Mac OS? The BSDs? AIX? HP-UX? Windows? They are all involved as well. None of that can be expressed properly in headlines.

Also, I don't cite Murdock to help my cause. I cite him (and Hamilton) only to point out that their statements in the article don't seem to substantiate the headline. If Sun actually said what's in the headline, then it would be a quote or a summarized quote with direct attribution. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn't see it in that article when I read it. Most customers and engineers I talk to find all this a distraction and no help to open development, project management, or community building.

And finally, in terms of the blogs-media-marketing-pr area, I realize I'm in the distinct minority on this issue. No matter. :)

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on September 06, 2007 at 05:00 AM JST #

Richard ... in terms of size of community, sure, we are much smaller than Linux, no question. It will be years before we can build to that level. But that's ok. We have time. :) There's no other way, actually, and this is where I think OpenSolaris can learn a great deal from Linux (and I've been telling our community that for many years now). Your last comment, however, is spot on -- both communities ought to focus on building their own best systems/communities and not on flaming each other. I've been on the OpenSolaris project for four years now, and I've really had it with the flamers on both sides. It's an interesting communications exercise to track it (which I do in my blog), but the flames themselves only undermine the credibility of both communities. That's what I try to point out (probably poorly, I expect).

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on September 06, 2007 at 05:13 AM JST #

I'm an x xp user who switched to Ubuntu about a year and a half ago and so glad that I did. I see in open solaris now some of the good things that got me to switch to Ubuntu, the community and enthusiasm are very good traits to have. At one point I had xp and Ubuntu dual boot. Now I want to try Open solaris and Ubuntu dual boot. I ordered the Solaris dvd set. What do you think? Will it work?

Posted by Jim on September 06, 2007 at 05:39 AM JST #

Jim ... Ubuntu is a very, very nice OS. I ran it for about 6 months recently. You can dual boot with Ubuntu and Solaris, sure. But make sure you have a recent build since the Solaris installer is being re-written and the first iteration of that re-write is being deployed right now. Check Dave's blog for updates: http://blogs.sun.com/dminer/entry/try_out_the_dwarf_caiman. You want anything post build 70a for the new installer. It's very nice. :)

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on September 06, 2007 at 05:50 AM JST #

I do not understand how they can be even remotely speaking of any type of "war" between two systems. They are so different on so many levels -
On the server market - there is just usual competition going on but in a community - Solaris can not run linux binaries of what I know (if not virtualized in a zone) so all the GNU packages and ease of use and proper software is virtually inaccessible to a average \*nix user who don't want to spend endless hours editing makefiles and environment tweaking to get the basic software to work on his box.
If Project Indiana kicks off and we will finally be able to get some of those GNU goodies by simply apt-get or pkg-get that's where we can actually start saying how those systems behave under normal daily load with apps. Thats where the real competition will begin. I'm using OpenSolaris b70 but it is ever as much as staring at default gnome app set with mplayer from blastwave and that's it - how is that ever usable on a proper desktop? My job requires me to use Solaris so I do but on my home systemn I'll always have Ubuntu - because it is how system should be - fast and easy to use.
Speaking of fast - Gnome behaviour on x64 system with 4gig ram is \*sluggish\* to say the least on Solaris whilst on Ubuntu it pops up \*immediately\* - I posted the question on Solaris forums - some people agreed with me but who cares - Sun deals Operon boxes and I would imagine on Operon based machine problem is nonexistent anyway isn't it?
Community wise - hmm there is much much to be wished for - I realize we all don't like repeating stuff etc and normally I always say - RTFM before you post in the forums - but OpenSolaris forums are unfortunately well known for never replying to posts from oridinary users. I realize people want to focus on getting job done not answering millions of emails type - How do I... but somehow other Linux communities can manage with both - development and teaching others as well.
Oh well that was a bit of a brag - but I thought I'd share.
My choice is obvious - Solaris is the best system I've come across for a server , but for home - Ubuntu or OpenSuse

Posted by Lukasz Drazyk on September 11, 2007 at 12:18 AM JST #

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