Caustic comments about my blog

The internet is a wonderful egalitarian place where everyone can have their say.  Who am I to complain?  I get to put my information up here on and actually asked for corrections and comments regarding my comparison chart between Solaris 10 and RHEL 5.  Naturally, I got some comments and corrections.  Information week picked it up on Jan 2nd (must have been a slow holiday in the old newsroom.)  Today, while googling a totally unrelated topic (I wasn't googling myself, I promise) I ran across an entry titled: So Mr. Laurent, Solaris is all that \*and\* a bag of chips?

Written by "Spencer Shimko, Real Genius" who describes himself as "the source of this dribble." Spencer is currently working with technologies related to security and SELinux for Tresys Technology, LLC. We always like to thank and credit those who comment an help improve our information.

While I fully admitted my Solaris bias in creating the chart, I did try to be as complete and factual as I could.  I hardly think that I fit his description of Sun Guys who are (expletives deleted.)

I do have to take issue with some of his counterpoints however:

Platform support.  Mr. Shimko seems to be implying that I'm playing fast and loose with HW and SW support numbers.  I try to deal in facts and tried only to quote numbers that I could verify. Both Sun and RHAT have issues here because ISVs are so darn "Independent!"  They don't always tell vendors when they port a product to a platform and the information that they provide us changes rapidly and is not always accurate. I had to work with numbers at Sun's and RHATs ISV pages because for me to make up any other number for would truly be lying.  As far as his reference to 3000 RHEL applications, my comparison is only with RHEL 5.  Because they don't guarantee binary compatibility and vendors don't always support the latest OS version, I refuse to extrapolate all available RHEL apps to be available for RHEL 5.

Life cycle support.  While we might argue about what "support" and updates" consist of, I can provide a number of examples of our actual timelines for the last 4 EOL versions. It's true that our Solaris lifecycle page quotes 10 years, but as you can see, support lifespans range from 10-12 years.  This varies based upon customer "acceptance" of OS versions.  Solaris 8 was heavily adopted and Solaris 10 even more so and may end up with a lifespan longer than 12 years.  You can see from this that Sun has a long history of extended life cycle support for our OS.

 OS Version
First shipped
End of phase one support
End of phase two support
Solaris 8
Feb 2000
 March 2009
March 2012
Solaris 7
November 1998
August 2005
August 2008
Solaris 2.6
July 1997
July 2003
July 2006
Solaris 2.5.1
May 1996
Sept 2002
Sept. 2005

Commercial license costs.  Apparently there was no argument here.  Solaris just costs less than RHEL 5 and is available free for download and production use to all of our customers.

Subscription costs.  I was NOT attempting to compare the cheapest Solaris subscription to the cheapest RHEL subscription but the most comparable subscription level.  Solaris is cheaper at the enterprise level.

Unique OS Advanced technologies.  Mr. Shimko would like to remove certain items from the Solaris list such as binary compatibility guarantee, massive scalability, memory placement optimizations etc.  I could find no references to proof of these items in  RHEL 5.  Solaris, however, is proven in all these areas.  Even Linus Torvads admits that he would like to have ZFS in the Linux codebase.

Virtualization.  He calls Solaris zones "stupid, pointless," but I can assure you that a wide variety of enterprise customers including the US DoD find containers useful, easy and cost effective in their data center environments for consolidation of applications.

Application containment.  He predicts the death of Solaris Trusted Extensions and again disrespects containers.  Solaris TX, however, provide capabilities that SElinux cannot, that is a true multi-level Gnome (or CDE) desktop environment that can be displayed on an ulta-thin client.  This technology is currently going through a Protection Level 5 (highest) accreditation at a government customer.  I'll add here that because Solaris is developed using an open source process, the ability to add Type Enforcement is certainly there.  A little bird tells me that there may already be an effort underway to do just that.

Meanwhile, look forward to an updated version of the chart coming to a blog near you.  This time, we will be adding Windows 2003 server to the list since it is one of the OS platforms that Sun can sell and support now.

Thanks for listening and keep those cards and letters coming.



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Jim Laurent is an Oracle Sales consultant based in Reston, Virginia. He supports US DoD customers as part of the North American Public Sector hardware organization. With over 17 years experience at Sun and Oracle, he specializes in Solaris and server technologies. Prior to Oracle, Jim worked 11 years for Gould Computer Systems (later known as Encore).


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