Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

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josehill
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Re: Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

Unread postby josehill » Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:59 pm

smj wrote:I haven't been thrilled with the direction the installation and admin tools have been taking since the "everything in Java" theme started back in, what, Solaris 8? But that's a different discussion...

Ah, for the days of Solaris 7...the last REAL Solaris!!! (Bad moderator runs away, giggling like a schoolgirl.)

Just kidding, there is obviously a lot to like in later versions of Solaris, particularly for large systems.

If keeping things patched up to current spec is important, but sending money to Larry isn't, I do agree with the suggestion of picking a BSD, particularly if you are not using some of the more advanced features of Solaris, like containers. I've been a fan of OpenBSD for my own reasons of personal history, but probably FreeBSD is the way to go for features like ZFS and general ease of use.

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Re: Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

Unread postby SAQ » Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:32 am

josehill wrote:If keeping things patched up to current spec is important, but sending money to Larry isn't, I do agree with the suggestion of picking a BSD, particularly if you are not using some of the more advanced features of Solaris, like containers. I've been a fan of OpenBSD for my own reasons of personal history, but probably FreeBSD is the way to go for features like ZFS and general ease of use.


Yep, if ZFS becomes stable and standard across the BSD line then that will be a big +P for the BSDs. UFS is stable, but it's getting a bit behind.
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Re: Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

Unread postby tingo » Wed Dec 21, 2011 3:31 pm

SAQ wrote:Yep, if ZFS becomes stable and standard across the BSD line then that will be a big +P for the BSDs. UFS is stable, but it's getting a bit behind.

FWIW, zfs is stable on FreeBSD already. at least as far as I am concerned.
As for the "ufs is getting behind" comment, I've never understood why some people think that everything has to be the newest model to be good. Must be the Microsoft sickness. :mrgreen:
ufs is stable, solid, and proven. And for work types where it don't fit, you have zfs. Works for me.
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Re: Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

Unread postby smj » Thu Dec 22, 2011 2:01 am

I still like UFS/FFS, and love that I have a reliable dump/restore pair to go with it. I just don't have the same confidence in anything to do the same for ext3/4, etc. No complaints about XFS and xfsdump/xfsrestore - I'm obviously using them, I just don't have the same long history with them.

The flexibility of the storage pool concept, the use of checksums and scrubbing, and nifty things like 'zfs send' are what pushed me to ZFS. Backups are still a concern, the serial stream of 'zfs send' is too fragile for this purpose. But certainly the situation is no worse than with ext3/4 - cpio, tar, etc.
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Re: Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

Unread postby kubatyszko » Thu Dec 22, 2011 2:54 am

I went with ZFS for my photo backups as well, I have one FreeBSD box here in Tokyo, and another at my parents' basement back in Poland, both have 2*1TB mirrored ZFS pools.
As much as initial replication took forever (some 400-500GB), further snapshots were a breeze, I wrote small script which checks the most recent snapshot on the slave side, and syncs that to the most recent snapshot on the master - this has been working well for me for over 2 years now...

As for stability - 64Bit box with 4GB RAM is pretty much a must, and even then it requires some tuning (http://wiki.freebsd.org/ZFSTuningGuide) , otherwise it's easy to end up with kernel panics at random times.
I did run the same on Solaris initially (mostly because of those FBSD instability until I got more ram etc), but it wasn't very useful beyond ZFS+NFS (not that much software for Sol x86) so that's why I went with FBSD and never looked back since then :).

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Re: Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

Unread postby smj » Fri Dec 23, 2011 2:29 am

kubatyszko wrote:As for stability - 64Bit box with 4GB RAM is pretty much a must, and even then it requires some tuning (http://wiki.freebsd.org/ZFSTuningGuide) , otherwise it's easy to end up with kernel panics at random times.
I had some problems when trying to run FreeBSD + ZFS on a 32-bit HyperThreaded Xeon DP (Gallatin) system with 6GB of RAM, some of which were relieved by tuning. It was pretty stable after that, but I didn't stick with it long enough to sort it out for sure - there seemed to be no hope of getting a PAE kernel to access more than 4GB, VirtualBox performance sucked, and I noticed some good prices on HP DL140 G3's with Woodcrest/Clovertown CPUs, so...

I've had zero problems with FreeBSD 8.2-RELEASE and -STABLE with 4-16GB RAM in the DL140s without any tuning, using ZFS for everything from mirrored bootable system disks to a 4x1.5TB RAIDZ attached via an LSI 9212-4i4e 6Gbps SAS controller.
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Re: Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

Unread postby nekonoko » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:08 am

Just another thumbs-up for FreeBSD; I've been running the Nekochan server on it for a couple years now (currently running FreeBSD 9.0-RC3).
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Re: Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

Unread postby PymbleSoftware » Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:11 pm

Microsoft use FreeBSD... good enough for them..
http://betanews.com/2001/06/18/microsof ... e-freebsd/


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Re: Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

Unread postby josehill » Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:48 pm

PymbleSoftware wrote:Microsoft use FreeBSD... good enough for them..
http://betanews.com/2001/06/18/microsof ... e-freebsd/

Well, it was nice while it lasted. Microsoft finally finished migrating all of Hotmail to Windows servers by around 2005, IIRC.

Still, the length of time that it took to complete the migration (nearly a decade after MS acquired Hotmail) underscores the challenge of changing platforms with a heavily used, customer-facing service. It was arguably the biggest, most public test of Windows scalability at the time.

As an aside (again, IIRC), when MS acquired Hotmail, FreeBSD was running the front-end web servers, while Solaris was used for the actual back-end email handling.

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Re: Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

Unread postby hamei » Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:01 pm

josehill wrote:As an aside (again, IIRC), when MS acquired Hotmail, FreeBSD was running the front-end web servers, while Solaris was used for the actual back-end email handling.

Back from the dead ... A week of struggling with Solaris under pressure and a few days of flu-based stomach exercise later, for those who are interested I can say :

Jimmer is sort of right - from a logical standpoint in a small environment, Solaris is not worth the hassle. But then, the Sun Fire was not sensible either. A dual-core Atom with a gig-E interface and a big SATA drive would have been sensible. So what the hell, is there a prize for being sensible ?

Solaris itself is great. There's no way in hell that Loonix, freebsd, whatever will ever touch it. Even Irix is second-rate compared to what you can do with Solaris. It's got some capabilities that are outstanding.

Unfortunately, the documentation and information for Solaris sucks dead donkey balls. What a mess. Information is easy to come by but usually it doesn't work. It looks like the operating system has gone through so many permutations that you really have to know exactly which version you are talking about to ensure that the information matches what you have. And then there's the problem of a bunch of doofuses on the Internet giving bad advice. I guess that's the same with Irix but there are more Solaris users, hence more doofuses and more bad advice.

I can see why Oracle would buy them. For large, expensive enterprises where people should know what they are doing, Solaris is perfect. For a small shop that just wants to run a website, an office server and maybe an intranet, way overkill. And way too much hassle to figure out how to get it to work. And now that Oracle owns it, way too much hassle trying to deal with the owners. Heck, if I couldn't have bought it in the Pirate's Bazaar for $6 I probably would have skipped the whole experience. Maybe that's due to my Chinese IP, don't know. But Oracle is certainly a rotten nasty company that most people work hard to avoid.

Jose - speaking of webservers, try the Solaris iPlanet Web One Java-but-not-Java Whatever Name We Can Come Up With This Week webserver. Hot stuff. You can run an entire farm of webservers with ten percent of the hassle of one instance of Apache. Better performance, too. Good stuff.

Anyway, to answer my own question, to me it was worth the hassle. The more things you try, the more you learn. The more you learn, the smarter you get. And then you die.

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Re: Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

Unread postby josehill » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:01 pm

hamei wrote:Jose - speaking of webservers, try the Solaris iPlanet Web One Java-but-not-Java Whatever Name We Can Come Up With This Week webserver. Hot stuff. You can run an entire farm of webservers with ten percent of the hassle of one instance of Apache. Better performance, too. Good stuff.

It's nice to hear that iPlanet is still going strong. I haven't used it a long time, but I was quite a big fan of iPlanet way back in the day when it was Netscape Enterprise Server. It ran like a champ on IRIX, and the 1998 admin interface was way beyond anything that the Apache folks have ever put together. A piece of cake to configure. The last version I used was iPlanet 4-point-something-or-other on IRIX and Solaris.

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Re: Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

Unread postby zmttoxics » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:56 pm

hamei wrote:
josehill wrote:As an aside (again, IIRC), when MS acquired Hotmail, FreeBSD was running the front-end web servers, while Solaris was used for the actual back-end email handling.

Back from the dead ... A week of struggling with Solaris under pressure and a few days of flu-based stomach exercise later, for those who are interested I can say :

Jimmer is sort of right - from a logical standpoint in a small environment, Solaris is not worth the hassle. But then, the Sun Fire was not sensible either. A dual-core Atom with a gig-E interface and a big SATA drive would have been sensible. So what the hell, is there a prize for being sensible ?

Solaris itself is great. There's no way in hell that Loonix, freebsd, whatever will ever touch it. Even Irix is second-rate compared to what you can do with Solaris. It's got some capabilities that are outstanding.

Unfortunately, the documentation and information for Solaris sucks dead donkey balls. What a mess. Information is easy to come by but usually it doesn't work. It looks like the operating system has gone through so many permutations that you really have to know exactly which version you are talking about to ensure that the information matches what you have. And then there's the problem of a bunch of doofuses on the Internet giving bad advice. I guess that's the same with Irix but there are more Solaris users, hence more doofuses and more bad advice.

I can see why Oracle would buy them. For large, expensive enterprises where people should know what they are doing, Solaris is perfect. For a small shop that just wants to run a website, an office server and maybe an intranet, way overkill. And way too much hassle to figure out how to get it to work. And now that Oracle owns it, way too much hassle trying to deal with the owners. Heck, if I couldn't have bought it in the Pirate's Bazaar for $6 I probably would have skipped the whole experience. Maybe that's due to my Chinese IP, don't know. But Oracle is certainly a rotten nasty company that most people work hard to avoid.

Jose - speaking of webservers, try the Solaris iPlanet Web One Java-but-not-Java Whatever Name We Can Come Up With This Week webserver. Hot stuff. You can run an entire farm of webservers with ten percent of the hassle of one instance of Apache. Better performance, too. Good stuff.

Anyway, to answer my own question, to me it was worth the hassle. The more things you try, the more you learn. The more you learn, the smarter you get. And then you die.


Nice! I have been working in a solaris shop for over 5 years now and tend to just go that direction for anything if I can. EXCEPT, Solaris 11 is a piece of crap. I can not believe how bad the performance was setting a new box with 8 cores, 8gb of ram and 5 disks (4 in zfs mirror / stripe data pool config). I had a cut down setup running S11 Express that i have been using since express came out that had 3 times the performance (4 cores, single disk). Couldn't for the life of me find a solution but I am 99.9999999% that new crossbow shit was the problem. It was definitely the problem for my multicast issues - it just wouldn't let the VMs do multicasting at all (VBox now uses crossbow for networking by default).

After the holiday I will be rebuilding that box with S10u10 or even RHEL6.2 (though I am not a fan of LVM). Glad what ever you were working on went well though! :)
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Re: Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

Unread postby smj » Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:49 pm

Way to go hamei! But yes, I suspect so much has changed between the Solaris I was comfortable with and the current offering that I'd be climbing the same curve as re-learning AIX (last used 4.3.2 in anger? Maybe 5, if it was out ~1999).

I have fond but fading memories of the Netscape Enterprise Server package, or whatever it was called. Back in 1996 I wrote an authentication module that would allow single sign-on between two different web servers for a big financial firm. Cookie based of course, with session data kept in an RDBMS behind the scenes. I presented the work at the SANS '97 conference in Baltimore, and of course nobody gave a crap... Was amazed to learn it was still in use five years later, and I was complemented on the modular design* as they were able to change the DB easily and keep right on going.

* I was rarely impressed with the level of competence of developers working for Wall Street in the 90s, so bear that in mind regarding how easily they might be impressed by a simple, clean design. I still remember answering support calls for a global DCE and Encina infrastructure and having the "developer" on the other end of the line respond with, "What is a debugger?"
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Re: Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

Unread postby kubatyszko » Sat Dec 24, 2011 8:04 pm

smj wrote:* I was rarely impressed with the level of competence of developers working for Wall Street in the 90s, so bear that in mind regarding how easily they might be impressed by a simple, clean design. I still remember answering support calls for a global DCE and Encina infrastructure and having the "developer" on the other end of the line respond with, "What is a debugger?"


Well, there may be "some" who would still ask what is a debugger, but more often than not (at least in my surroundings), it would be you asking them about stuff excited to learn just about anything.
It might be partially related to banks trimming down and leaving the better ones, but the ones who I know (and sit next to me) are very very good :P.
Maybe you simply were unlucky to end up with those "others" on the end of the line :P

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Re: Is Solaris worth the hassle ?

Unread postby smj » Sun Dec 25, 2011 2:46 am

Generalizations are sloppy at best, of course, and I'm using an extreme example - from a specific period in time. There were some folks doing things right, and rumors of impressive things at some firms - sadly, not the ones I worked at. Some of my peers were quite talented though, and there were a few hedge funds wise enough to put them to work.

Since that time financial firms of all stripes have been recruiting Ph.Ds in math and science like nobody's business. Nothing attracts talent like talent, so the level has been rising - so no, the idea that you work with some very competent people doesn't surprise me.
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