A couple of points on "SUN Microsystems: A Friend or a Foe"
By moinakg on Dec 16, 2007
I recently read an article in the November issue of Linux For You titled "SUN Microsystems: A Friend or a Foe" authored by the well known John "Maddog" Hall. I felt there are a couple of misconceptions in the article that should be pointed out.
He mentions a comment by a LUG speaker: "... how hard it was to work on a Solaris system because of the antiquated and non-standard set of utilities on the upper levels of the Operating System ...". I am not sure what is meant by non-standard here. POSIX compliance is followed on Solaris and there are conformance testsuites for the commands and utilities. Is he equating non-standard to meaning non-GNU ? Well for that it requires a tweak of PATH to put /usr/sfw/bin on Solaris 10 to get a whole host of modern FOSS tools. If more is needed Blastwave.ORG is a very good resource. In addition SXDE is a very complete and modern Operating Environment with a complete GNU CLI environment under /usr/gnu/bin. Again a PATH tweak is all that is required. In adition SXDE bundles a plethora of FOSS including latest GNOME releases in /usr/bin . SXDE today is indeed very comfortable to use. It is amazing to see how far Solaris has come from the earlier days in a relatively short period of it's history.
"Sun also claims binary compatibility between releases, ... Sun guarantees your program to run as long as you did not use any interfaces that did not change or were not deleted. This is a guarantee ?". HUH, I smell FUD in this statement. What does one expect ? Absolute backward compatibility till the point when the OS was born! Every interface is Solaris is meticulously documented for interface stability guidelines and indicated which are stable and which are evolving etc. There is an ARC process that oversees every public interface being introduced, their implications and backward compatibility criteria. What more can one expect ? If you are using an evolving interface of course you know what the implications are. Of course changes do happen, interfaces do get obsolete - an inevitable part of software evolution. But these changes are "managed", one does not see APIs disappearing or changing suddenly without warning in micro-releases/updates for eg.
There is also a point in the article that mentions about lack of clear information about claimed several hundred benefits of Solaris. This is something to consider IMHO. Everyone talks about the big features of Solaris: DTrace, ZFS, SMF, Zones et. al. but there is much less talk about loads of other stuff that make the Operating System unique and compelling. For eg. Fine Grained Resource Management, RBAC, Integrated Real-Time features and so much more. How many people know that Interrupt Shielding has been present in Solaris since Solaris 7 ? There are so many more such little-known things about Solaris that are just crying out to be better highlighted. We need a well-organized how-to collection.
Forgot about one point:
"... some of those features are offered by major Linux distributions, and others can be added by 'rolling your own' in the Linux space."
Correct me if I am wrong here. AFAIK, apart from ZFS there is one other thing that cannot be had even by rolling your own: Comprehensive Resource Management (CPU Caps, Memory Caps, Dynamic Resource Pools, Processor sets, Fair Share Scheduler, Zones + Resource Controls etc.).
Some partial things are available for eg. the project: ckrm.sourceforge.net (Class Based Kernel Resource Management) but there is a long way to go.