About that whole Solaris vs. Linux thing

This month there has a been a noticeable increase in buzz from IT pundits discussing whether Solaris now has the feature set critical mass required to win over exising Linux users and shops.

On one hand, I think it’s tres cool that Solaris is and has been getting lots of positive press after a long time (many years) of being shunned as “grandpa’s UNIX” or even outright ignored. On the other, I have to wonder if these pundits are getting a little too “rah rah ree” vis a vis this new rising star of the OS popularity contests. As nice as it is, this kind of speculation has been going on for some time now and I have never seen any hard numbers to indicate whether such a shift is afoot or if it has even happened (yet).

This isn’t to say that Solaris’s newfound popularity (some would say it’s a revival) is without technical merit. The press and technologist community have been crowing about big new features such as ZFS, Zones, and DTrace for some time now. I’m worried, though, that the non-Solaris user who is being courted will get burned over on these specific and oft-repeated messages and come to think that those “Big 3” features are the only things that separate the Solaris of today from the derided Solaris of even 4 years ago.

While I and my fellow Solaris admins know that there are a whole host of other enhancements and features in today’s Solaris, I don’t think that these are being adequately enumerated and explained in generic terms to the non-Solaris admins out there. Not everyone is looking for a new file system. Not everyone is looking for a tracer of the type DTrace is… but I bet there are a lot of Linux admins out there who are trying to do something that Linux doesn’t or doesn’t do well, and Solaris does. The “killer” feature that could win someone over could be as mundane as resource management or Solaris’s excellent mass storage management. Jörg Moellenkamp has similar thoughts on this subject as well.

Who knows? All I know is that we can’t continue to harp on the same stuff, or people will get the wrong impression that Solars is just those things. It’s far more than that, and we have to clearly promote those less sexy but still awesome aspects.

One Reply to “About that whole Solaris vs. Linux thing”

  1. So true.

    Many important features got swept under the carpet as marketing starts looking for new focus.

    Personally, the most important feature in Solaris is backward compatibility. I never had a problem moving an application from Solaris >=7 to Solaris 10 (& into a zone in most cases) — that’s a decade span of technology. I dare not pull the same stunt on across 2 consecutive Linux versions without first checking what else breaks.

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