November 14, 2008 8 Comments
I have come across Solaris a few times. Sun makes its own Unix operating system, called Solaris. I have heard and read many good things about Solaris, especially on Sun hardware and in big enterprise environments. In an effort to be more open source oriented, Sun is releasing parts of Solaris as OpenSolaris. I have read in some unreliable places that Sun plans to create future versions of Solaris from OpenSolaris. Here I will try to find reasons why OpenSolaris would be a good choice.
Solaris at Heart
OpenSolaris is Solaris at heart. It was released as Solaris with an open source license. Now there are rumors that Solaris itself will be created from OpenSolaris. This would be similar to what Red Hat does: create Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) from Fedora. Given this lineage, enterprises which use or are familiar with Solaris would benefit with taking a look at OpenSolaris. Reverse is also true: if you want to move to Solaris for either production or just to learn, then OpenSolaris would be a great place to start.
Backed by Sun
Whatever I have read on the Internet so far tells me that there is a lot of politics involved in OpenSolaris. Although the source code is open, the development process is not as open and community-oriented as some purists would like. Sun exerts a lot of control over OpenSolaris. This can be both good and bad. I would like to think that this is good. If you know you have Sun backing up this offering, you are more likely to use it in corporate environments. You could do something like what I have suggested previously for RHEL and CentOS. Use OpenSolaris for testing and development servers, and then move to Solaris for production servers.
OpenSolaris is Unix
For all those Windows-averse users out there, OpenSolaris is Unix. So you get all the benefits of Unix at your fingertips. With it comes stability and security and everything else good with Unix in general.
Solaris and now OpenSolaris boasts of some great features. Most notable of those are ZFS and DTrace. ZFS is a file system which has created envy in the tech world. FreeBSD is porting/has ported it. Linux has ported it in the userland space. And Linux is on a mission to have its own equivalent technology with ext4 and Btrfs. ZFS has many features meant for the future of computing.
DTrace is also causing waves, and Linux is trying to match it with its own SystemTap. DTrace provides really good real-time info on your computer’s performance, which is helpful to developers and administrators alike. With these and more features available, why not use OpenSolaris?
OpenSolaris has a lot going for it. It has community (claimed to be growing every day), backing from Sun, Solaris lineage, and cutting edge technology. I feel it is good for Linux and BSD to have a worthy competitor in the open source software world. I haven’t used OpenSolaris so cannot say for sure how good or bad it is. But I would like to try it out soon. Meanwhile, as OpenSolaris progresses and matures, it will be interesting to see how users of other *nix systems welcome this Unix into their hearts.