Sunday, May 14, 2006

Comments on Switching From Solaris to Linux

There's an interesting post and discussion at Blog O' Matty about why people are switching from Solaris to Linux. I suppose it's a matter of familiarity, but I could never get used to the Solaris way of doing things. Why can't Sun just ship their OS with all the GNU and other packages like OpenSSH that everyone just installs anyway?

Redhat Linux ships and provides regular updates for numerous opensource software (e.g., postgres, MySQL, Apache, Samba, Bind, Sendmail, openssh, openssl, etc), where Sun keeps trying to sell customers the Sun Java One stack, "modifies" an opensource package and diverges the product from what is available everywhere else, and fails to provide timely bug fixes and security patches for the opensource packages that are shipped (Apache, MySQL and Samba are perfect examples) with Solaris.

I agree that the support for most free/open source software under Solaris seems incomplete at best. Sun's SunSSH is a perfect example of this. Red Hat is very involved in the open source community, providing upstream patches regularly to major projects. The software they ship with RHEL and Fedora is also reasonably current.

As for package management:

5. Managing applications and patches on Solaris systems is a disaster, and redhat's up2date utility is not only efficient, but has numerous options to control the patch notification and update process...

6. Staying on the cutting edge with Nevada is difficult, since there is currently no way to easily and automatically upgrade from one release of Nevada to another. On Fedora Core servers, you can run 'yum upgrade' to get the latest bits. Having to download archives and BFU is tedious, and most admins don't want to spend their few spare cycles BFU'ing to new releases.

Too true - yum is very nice - although I think Fedora is a bit too bleeding edge for production server use. For those admins who have not discovered Debian's package management, you don't know what you are missing. I'm not sure why admins feel the need to waste all sorts of time manually upgrading and patching systems anymore. Debian stable and RHEL automate these mundane tasks quite nicely, and both provide timely security updates to reasonably up-to-date software.

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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have a very interesting point of view. I can tell by your comments that you have not looked into solaris very deep.
Have you tired to install a package on Solaris?
The fact that solaris has very few updates is what makes it a mature operating system. Redhat and Fedora have updates in the hundreds of megabites. How often do you see a kernel update for Solaris, I see one for Red Hat every few weeks.
Last but not least, Solaris ships with just enough tools to get you started which renders it more secure. By the way sshd is included in the standard installation of Solaris 10.

Anonymous said...

You have a very interesting point of view. I can tell by your comments that you have not looked into solaris very deep.
Have you tried to install a package on Solaris?
The fact that Solaris has few updates is what makes it a mature operating system. Redhat and Fedora have updates in the hundreds of megabites. How often do you see a kernel update for Solaris, I see one for Red Hat every few weeks.
Last but not least, Solaris ships with just enough tools to get you started which renders it more secure. By the way sshd is included in the standard installation of Solaris 10.

Doug said...

Thanks for the comments. Yes, my recent experience with Solaris is limited. I had quite a bit of it back in the 2.6 days...what struck me about the blog I was commenting on was that some of the complaints I had from using 2.6 were still relevant - and there still seems to be a need for what I would call "core" GNU or FOSS packages even in Solaris 10. I see from http://sunfreeware.com/indexintel10.html that sunfreeware is far from dead. As for patching, I can't comment on recent Sun trends, but I do recall the recommended patch bundles being over 100MB each, containing dozens of patches.