The slowdown of Solaris here

February 28, 2011

Oh, it's not that our Solaris machines have slowed down. As far as I know, they're still running as fast as usual. What's been slowing down is our interest in Solaris, or at least our interest in new versions of Solaris. There was a time when I was relatively carefully tracking what was new in patches, Solaris updates, and OpenSolaris; nowadays I had to check to confirm that Solaris 11 Express was ZFS root only.

A relatively small part of this is because our Solaris machines work fine as they are. A large part of it is because, ultimately, we don't trust Solaris engineering to get things right when they make changes (with good reason, we have seen terrible performance regressions introduced by well-meaning patches).

Because we have so little trust in Solaris, we must do a full test and re-qualification of any patches or new versions of Solaris; this is a lot of work, and we aren't going to start it right away, and when we might start it there's a new version that may be coming out. Beyond that, because we don't trust Solaris changes we always get to weigh the potential benefits of an upgrade against the equally potential drawbacks of running into serious issues in production. So far, that weighting has never come down on the side of an upgrade.

(Although I have not looked at ZFS changes recently, the last time I did the only really attractive one is 'zpool import -f'. And if we wind up needing that, we can always crash-build a current Solaris machine to do the pool import and re-export.)

Oracle's decision with OpenSolaris is a significant factor in this. Not having source code will hamper us in a number of ways and certainly makes running Solaris more dangerous; now if things go wrong we are entirely at the mercy of Oracle support, and our experience with Sun's old Solaris support environment certainly wasn't particularly positive.

(I suspect that the last released OpenSolaris code is already out of date with current Solaris patches, but I haven't checked.)

Given all of this, I simply haven't been very active in watching Solaris developments. There doesn't seem to be much point in paying close attention to something that we're very unlikely to use (at least not any time in the near future).

All of this opens up a large can of worms in terms of our long term future with Solaris, but that's another entry.

Written on 28 February 2011.
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Last modified: Mon Feb 28 00:03:48 2011
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