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Old 08-17-2009, 09:20 AM   #1
dezza
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Commercial UNIX - Trick Or Treat ?


Hello everyone and thanks for reading ..

We all know that there is more to it than Ubuntu Linux, Debian and the all-known BSDs, most of which are used mostly in Enterprise environments.

There's AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, just to name a few, you can write yours on the list and tell what makes it special.

I would like to know if you use a commercial UNIX and if so which kind?

Tell about the REAL benefits of this commercial UNIX in a decent language that your average KDE-guy can understand and introduce them to something new.

Personally, I would like to know myself about Solaris and why it is considered "more stable" or "reliable" to some system-administrators and please don't be blind here, be open minded to those who recommend a commercial Linux, but still ready for any pros/cons that it may have. Most people think that ZFS and DTrace is almost the only killer features on Solaris, but I bet you guys can mention a whole lot of other features that are much less mentioned in medias but still a true gem when comparing it to BSD or Linux.

Thanks in advance, I cross my fingers for a very interesting debate.
 
Old 08-17-2009, 09:34 AM   #2
MensaWater
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I'd say your premise is flawed. Debian/Ubuntu are used more by hobbyists than in Enterprise Environments. Those doing Linux in Enterprise are primarily using RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) or Suse (SLES). Not saying no one uses any other Linux in enterprise but the lion's share is RHEL with SLES behind that.

As to your question though: Commercial UNIX has been around a lot longer than Linux. Linux was started in the 90s. When I first started doing UNIX on PCs my choices were pretty much limited to AT&T System V and SCO UNIX.

Back when a lot of the commercial stuff was written it ran on "midrange" systems or even "mainframe". Remember PCs didn't really take off until the 80s so you didn't have much of a choice. You could use IBM or other vendors proprietary OS or roll your own UNIX. Also a lot of the impetus for UNIX came from the fact that AT&T pretty much gave it away to universities. Berkley did a lot of modifications which is where the BSD stuff comes from. Several of the 80s commercial variants of UNIX were based on Berkley. In the 90s there was move to merge in the AT&T System V Release 4 stuff (AT&T Bell Labs had originally written UNIX.)

Most of the commercial variants (except things like SCO) started out as proprietary ports to run on specific hardware vendors' equipment. That midrange equipment generally had RISC processors that were considered much better performing chips than the CISC processors one finds in PCs.

However, it is expensive to make chips which is why HP who made the PA-RISC for HP-UX (their commercial UNIX) decided to work with Intel to make a replacement. They announced that somewhere around 1993 calling it the Merced project but it wasn't until the current eon that they finally release Itanium and it was just the end of last year that HP quit making PA-RISC.

The reasons for commercial distributions early on were mainly for performance and support by major vendors. The reasons now are mainly for support - this support doesn't include just the fact that the vendor you buy it from has a help desk but also the idea that many applications are targeted towards the distribution. In fact it is this latter support concept that RedHat touts as most people writing commercial applications if they address Linux will surely write it for RHEL.

Last edited by MensaWater; 08-17-2009 at 09:35 AM.
 
Old 08-17-2009, 09:39 AM   #3
dezza
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlightner View Post
I'd say your premise is flawed. Debian/Ubuntu are used more by hobbyists than in Enterprise Environments. Those doing Linux in Enterprise are primarily using RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) or Suse (SLES). Not saying no one uses any other Linux in enterprise but the lion's share is RHEL with SLES behind that.
I would say CentOS, Fedora, and Debian also is used alot in enterprises as well as FreeBSD.
 
Old 08-17-2009, 09:45 AM   #4
MensaWater
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Right - I acknowledged that other distros are used - I was simply saying they are NOT MOSTLY the ones used in COMMERCIAL environments. RHEL and SLES are.

I'm not even saying they have no value in commercial environments (except Fedora). Fedora is bleeding edge - using it as your basis for a Production system means you'll likely end up having to roll your own apps in short order as they only support the 2 most recent versions. Not saying Fedora has no value but it is definitely something you should use mainly for experimentation and seeing the latest greatest Linux has to offer rather than for stable systems.
 
Old 08-17-2009, 10:21 AM   #5
joeBuffer
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Quote:
Most people think that ZFS and DTrace is almost the only killer features on Solaris, but I bet you guys can mention a whole lot of other features that are much less mentioned in medias but still a true gem when comparing it to BSD or Linux.
Going by what I've read, now that Oracle has purchased Sun Microsystems, DTrace (at least) will be brought to Linux. Possibly/probably.

Last edited by joeBuffer; 08-20-2009 at 12:06 PM.
 
Old 08-17-2009, 11:53 AM   #6
jlliagre
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeBuffer View Post
Going by what I've read, now that Oracle has purchased Sun Microsystems DTrace (at least) will be brought to Linux.
I'm curious to know what makes you speculate Dtrace would be selected. By the way, Oracle hasn't yet purchased Sun. Pending decisions by at least the US SEC and the European Commission are still freezing the process.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dezza
Most people think that ZFS and DTrace is almost the only killer features on Solaris, but I bet you guys can mention a whole lot of other features that are much less mentioned in medias but still a true gem when comparing it to BSD or Linux.
Here are some other "killer features" available or under development in Solaris and/or OpenSolaris with weaker or missing equivalent under Gnu/Linux distributions or BSDs:

- Zones / Branded Zones
- Live Upgrade / Snap Upgrade
- SMF
- Resource management
- RBAC
- Crossbow
- mdb
- Sun Cluster
 
Old 08-17-2009, 12:00 PM   #7
joeBuffer
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I read it somewhere. I don't remember where, now. They said it was likely that since Oracle is buying Sun Microsystems, they will probably bring some things to Linux. Also, I've read that OpenSolaris could be changed or merged with Linux, or whatever. I've read that OpenSolaris isn't going to be dumped, or anything, but I don't know about the rest of it.
I can't remember where I read about things like DTrace being brought to Linux. I googled for a second, but couldn't find it.

Last edited by joeBuffer; 08-17-2009 at 12:03 PM.
 
Old 08-17-2009, 12:11 PM   #8
joeBuffer
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I added "possibly" to my first post, since I basically meant to to begin with.
Here ...
http://arstechnica.com/open-source/n...pen-source.ars
Quote:
When Sun liberated the Solaris source code, the company deliberately chose a license that would make it difficult for the code to be adapted for use in the Linux kernel. Oracle will probably dual-license the Solaris code so that it is available under the GPLv2 in addition to the CDDL. This will allow key Solaris innovations—such as ZFS and DTrace—to be ported to Linux.
http://www.infoworld.com/t/applicati...der-oracle-205
Quote:
Analysts said key features of Solaris, particularly DTrace, could be useful additions to Linux
http://pcworld.about.com/od/software...ould-Merge.htm

analysts say so.

Last edited by joeBuffer; 08-17-2009 at 12:27 PM.
 
Old 08-17-2009, 04:27 PM   #9
jlliagre
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Thanks for the links. These are speculations. Let's see what happen when Sun is merged to Oracle ...

By the way, I've been using ZFS and Dtrace with "Linux" since quite a long time thanks to brandz that fakes a Linux kernel using a Solaris one.
 
Old 08-17-2009, 06:09 PM   #10
dezza
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Thanks alot both of you for taking your time to clear up some thing, it's great.

joeBuffer:
Looks very promising, lets hope the oracle swallows the sun.

jlliagre:
I just read them quickly, it's tough commercial read, but so far this is what I've found out (Correct me if I'm wrong)

Zones: Like a chrooted application in a half virtualized environment (To save performance?), Sounds like a good trade.
Live Upgrade/Snap: is like simulating an upgrade on another virtualization before applying it to your mission-critical server?
Resource Management: Between virtualizations? Anything more to it?
RBAC: Creating "controlled" semi-super-users?
Crossbow: QoS-alike, DoS protecting thing?
SMF: startupscripts with depends/requires?

To ZFS/DTrace on Linux: Without FUSE? How does it run? Can you link a guide?
 
Old 08-17-2009, 06:28 PM   #11
ShadowCat8
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Lightbulb

Greetings,

At this point, I'd like to expound on jlightner's first post:
Quote:
As to your question though: Commercial UNIX has been around a lot longer than Linux. Linux was started in the 90s. When I first started doing UNIX on PCs my choices were pretty much limited to AT&T System V and SCO UNIX.

Back when a lot of the commercial stuff was written it ran on "midrange" systems or even "mainframe". Remember PCs didn't really take off until the 80s so you didn't have much of a choice. You could use IBM or other vendors proprietary OS or roll your own UNIX. Also a lot of the impetus for UNIX came from the fact that AT&T pretty much gave it away to universities. Berkley did a lot of modifications which is where the BSD stuff comes from. Several of the 80s commercial variants of UNIX were based on Berkley. In the 90s there was move to merge in the AT&T System V Release 4 stuff (AT&T Bell Labs had originally written UNIX.)

Most of the commercial variants (except things like SCO) started out as proprietary ports to run on specific hardware vendors' equipment...<snip>
Folks, I direct you to The Gospel of Tux. Now, of course, there is a bit of embellishment in that document, (*ahem* hehe) but there is the fact that back before Linux, if you wanted a license for a UNIX OS on a system, it would often cost thousands of dollars for one 'seat'. And, if you wanted to buy the hardware so the license for the OS would come with it, it was tens of thousands of dollars. And, as jlightner pointed out, there weren't many other choices, either. Hence, the rejoicing at the advent of Linux and FreeBSD.

Having been an admin on a network that was running *many* of the different Unices, my experiences have shown me that Solaris was The Workhorse of UNIX. Those "pizza boxes" would keep running and running until the drives themselves gave out. Many of them were used as web servers and many are still in service today. In fact, a friend of mine just asked me last week if I had an old SCSI drive laying around so he could try to get one that he had just received up and running. (I'm hearing a voice saying "They just don't make 'em like they used to..." hehe)
 
Old 08-17-2009, 09:42 PM   #12
axobeauvi
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I use AIX at work and it is a rock solid OS.
 
Old 08-17-2009, 11:59 PM   #13
joeBuffer
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You're right, jlliagre, it's just speculation by analysts ...
I really should've said that it's possible and not that it's going to happen (which is what my post sort of seemed like it was saying). I just know that going by what I read, it's a real possibility. A lot of times when analysts say things like this will happen, they end up happening.
 
Old 08-18-2009, 02:39 AM   #14
jlliagre
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dezza View Post
Zones: Like a chrooted application in a half virtualized environment (To save performance?), Sounds like a good trade.
It is a lighter a more efficient way to virtualize an OS compared to XEN/VirtualBox/VMWare and the likes.
http://www.opensolaris.org/os/community/zones/
http://www.opensolaris.org/os/community/zones/faq/
Closer equivalent with Linux are VServer/OpenVZ, and Jails with BSD.
Quote:
Live Upgrade/Snap: is like simulating an upgrade on another virtualization before applying it to your mission-critical server?
Actually doing it but on an alternate boot environment. The idea is to have parallel OS installations that can be switched at reboot time. This isn't only useful with mission critical servers. I use it with OpenSolaris on my laptop. I can update to the latest development builds and if something turns wrong, I can easily revert to one of the previous stable builds.
http://www.sun.com/software/solaris/liveupgrade/
http://opensolaris.org/os/project/caiman/Snap_Upgrade/
Quote:
Resource Management:
Between virtualizations? Anything more to it?
Not only. It existed long before zones were made available. The idea is to grant resources to users/projects in a more controlled way.
http://dlc.sun.com/osol/docs/content...oncepts-3.html
Quote:
RBAC: Creating "controlled" semi-super-users?
Yes, and also users with less privileges than regular ones. For example, RBAC is used to forbid root to escape its zone.
http://www.opensolaris.org/os/commun...projects/rbac/
Quote:
Crossbow: QoS-alike, DoS protecting thing?
Crossbow is about virtualizing networks. You can create virtual switches that interconnect virtual network interfaces.
http://www.opensolaris.org/os/project/crossbow/faq/
Quote:
SMF: startupscripts with depends/requires?
and much more. enabling/disabling/reporting, setting properties, parallel start/stop, self-healing.
http://www.opensolaris.org/os/community/smf/
Quote:
To ZFS/DTrace on Linux: Without FUSE? How does it run? Can you link a guide?
The idea is to run a Gnu/Linux distribution on top of the Solaris kernel instead of the Linux one. FUSE isn't required in that case.
http://opensolaris.org/os/community/brandz/
 
Old 08-18-2009, 09:48 AM   #15
MensaWater
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Well for stability I always liked the HP platforms over the Solaris ones.

Sun got a really big black eye when they had the faulty CPUs in the high end units like the E10000 (E10K). Initially they claimed there was no issue, then made people sign NDAs to even admit there was an issue. Next when it went public they claimed it was an issue with with "cosmic rays". They followed that by making new Sombra CPUS and telling customers they'd have to pay for the upgrade. Finally they owned up to the fact they'd have to do the upgrades for free but then tried to ration how many CPUs you got. If this had been in the pizza boxes it might not have been so bad but it was actually in what was at that point their top of the line servers. Taking major downtime in Production due to unstable CPUs then having to go through all those shenanigans gave many of us who used them not very happy with Sun. At one ex-employer they had been a heavy Sun shop for ERP/Data Warehouse but the Exec at the head of that division dumped them for HP-UX and supposedly said he'd never buy another Sun system.

You'd think Sun would have known not to do all this as it was almost exactly what Intel had tried with the original flawed Pentium chips.
 
  


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