My view of Solaris 10 summarized

April 27, 2007

I've now used Solaris 10 off and on long enough to have something of an opinion on it. I could write an entry along the lines of my reactions to Solaris 9, but I can summarize it simply: for me, nothing really fundamental or revolutionary has changed between Solaris 9 and Solaris 10, and the whole Solaris 10 experience leaves me only a bit more enthused than I was with Solaris 9.

Or, in short: Solaris 10 is just a warmed-over, slightly tuned up version of Solaris 9.

But what about things like ZFS, DTrace, zones, and svcadm? So far my reaction is best summarized as 'new lipstick on the same old pig'; they are nice but have not fundamentally changed my interactions with Solaris, and thus have not changed any of the things that irritate me about Solaris 9.

(Even if they are cool things, they are cool things dropped on top of an uninspiring base, and as a result the whole presentation suffers. It leaves me feeling that Sun is doing the minimum effort it can get away with, instead of genuinely wanting to improve the overall experience.)

Some things about the Solaris 10 experience irritate me intensely; for example, making the base operating system free but apparently requirement a paid support contract for things like recommended patch clusters. (Among other things, this strikes me as an excellent way to give people trying out Solaris a bad experience because of bugs Sun has already fixed.)

With time, I may become enthused about ZFS (and possibly zones, and maybe DTrace but I'm not holding my breath), but I expect I'll be using Solaris 10 despite itself, not because I actually like it. I find this kind of sad, because better examples are readily available for Sun to borrow from and many of the bad points are simply lack of polish. If Sun layered Solaris 10's interesting features on top of the kind of quality base you find in things like current Linux distributions, the result would be genuinely impressive and attractive; instead Sun just manages a kind of tepid interest.

(PS to Sun: pca is still the best OS patch management tool for Solaris 10, so please stop breaking it. In fact you would be better off if you officially adopted it and made it a Sun freeware package.)

Comments on this page:

From at 2007-04-28 10:14:08:

If Sun layered Solaris 10's interesting features on top of the kind of quality base you find in things like current Linux distributions, the result would be genuinely impressive and attractive

That is why I have a machine running Nexenta and not Solaris 10 :-)

- Justin

From at 2007-04-28 10:22:53:

I am downloading the Solaris 10 Patch Cluster right now with my FREE Sunsolve account. Ditto for Solaris 8 and 9 Clusters. AFAIK very few patches require a support contract. If you have an old Sunsolve account (pre Solaris 10) you might have to re-register for a new free account.

By cks at 2007-04-28 13:47:38:

I thought that when I tried to download the recommended patch clusters I had to use our SunSolve account instead of a new Sun Online account I created, but I might have forgotten the exact details. It's possible that the Sun patch clusters are free but access to the recommended and security patches that aren't yet in a patch cluster requires a SunSolve contract.

(Which strikes me as equally irritating and stupid, especially for security patches.)

From at 2007-04-28 15:02:18:

Solaris security patches are free, have always been.

By cks at 2007-04-28 15:39:43:

Thanks for the corrections; I clearly need to try going through the whole process of getting various sorts of patches again so I can figure out just what I ran into.

Written on 27 April 2007.
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Last modified: Fri Apr 27 22:56:55 2007
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