Alan Hargreaves' Blog

The ramblings of a former Australian SaND TSC* Principal Field Technologist

Response to Linux versus Sun’s Solaris: It’s the community stupid

I only noticed this article today although it was posted during November.

First off I have to say that as someone at Sun who is (peripherally) involved in the open sourcing of Solaris, that I do not see this as a strictly Open Solaris vs Linux thing. There is room here for all comers and I believe that the more code out there in open source kernel space, the better for the industry as the whole. None of us has the monopoly on innovation and we can all learn from each other.

Frank sees us as having a number of problems to solve.

…ranging from limited hardware compatibility a mix reputation regarding open source to the below par service organization, before they can become successful again.

If you are talking about Solaris prior to Solaris 10, I would wholeheartedly agree with you about our lack of driver support. With the advent of 10, though, the picture changes. We are working actively with vendors and the community to get drivers for current hardware. I myself run Solaris 10 on my Dell Inspiron 8500. The installation went through without a hitch. The only drivers that I was missing were for the Broadcom ethernet and Wireless. I got the Broadcom ethernet driver from a membero of the Solaris community (thank you Muryama-san). Broadcom still has not (to my knowledge) shared their wireless specs with anyone. Many of the key Solaris developers internal to Sun do their major development work on their own notebooks. Believe me, there is incentive to get current hardware supported.

I would be interested to hear why you state that our service is below par. I am a member of that Service Organisation, and I have only ever received glowing reports from our customers.

Mixed reputation regarding Open source? Please explain. Sun is the second largest contributor to the open source movement (behind Berkely) and has been working in this area for more than twenty years!

He also makes the point that an awful lot of Linux people responded to the article and he did not see a single response from the Solaris community.

Well, that could be for any number of reasons. First off, The original article was a red rag to a bull for the Linux community. Of course it was going to get a lot of people being awfully defensive. Another that I can say for myself is that I quite simply did not see the article until I had a response to it pointed out to me today. You will note that I am responding.

I certainly will not argue that Linux has a large and active community. I would regard it as a mistake to say that Solaris has none. Indeed the last person to say that offended some very vocal members of that community.

I responded to Joshua Wulf’s response to you in my blog here. But the main point I made is that I agree that community is critical.

We are open sourcing Solaris in response to the Solaris community. Many of whom are actively developing for Solaris. Our aim is to encourage this. We certainly agree that having a strong community is never to be underestimated.

Simply have a look at what happened when Sun elected to defer Solaris 9 for x86. The community effort was such that not only is Solaris on x86 hardware back on the agenda, it’s at our fore-front!

You also make a statement about “Making Solaris 10 free and open source, compatible with the x86 platform”. There are a few things that should be corrected here. First, there is the inferance (probably unintended) that we are only open sourcing Solaris for x86. Solaris is build from a single source tree for all platforms. We are open sourcing Solaris, not Solaris for a particular platform. Second, there is another inferance that we are newcomers to operating systems on x86 hardware. This is not true. I believe that we have been doing Solaris on x86 hardware since around Solaris 2.1.

I find myself constantly amazed at the vehemance with which many folk in the Linux community respond to any comment about Open Source Solaris. We believe we have a pretty good operating environment here. Is sharing it with the community such a bad thing? Hey maybe we can all learn something from each other?


Written by Alan

December 30, 2004 at 7:33 pm

3 Responses

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  1. [Trackback] Alan Hargreaves’ Weblog

    December 30, 2004 at 9:42 pm

  2. Totally agree with this:

    <div style=”margin-left: 80px;”><span style=”color: rgb(153, 0, 0);”>We
    are open sourcing Solaris in </span><b style=”color: rgb(153, 0, 0);”>response<span
    style=”color: rgb(153, 0, 0);”> to the Solaris
    community. Many of whom are actively developing for Solaris. Our aim is
    to encourage this. We certainly agree that having a strong community is
    never to be underestimated.</span>

    Jim Grisanzio

    December 31, 2004 at 12:18 am

  3. So, the thing about developing for Open Source on Sun is that developers can develop to real standards. You can’t do that very well with Linux at all.
    For all the revolutionary zeal, linux is still a very primative stew when it comes to standards and maturity. Stuff like that, along with features, are what make a good OS…

    tim scanlon

    January 13, 2005 at 12:14 am

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