Monday, July 18, 2005

Solaris Returns?

operating systems :: solaris




Since moving to Colorado, I have had many friends visit... and now
family members are signing up. This is actually very nice for me, as I
have always been the one visiting. People *like* coming to Colorado,
hiking in the mountains, breathing the incredible air at high
altitudes. However, every single commodity-based workstation I have
(and I have over 10 of these boxes) has failed. These two topics are
actually related.


Most of the x86 machines I have, I did not purchase new. All of them
have had replacement parts, after the originals had burned out or
become obsolete. And all have since died, in some fashion or another.
In fact, the only exception to this are two machines I have: a Gateway
PC from 1997 with most of it's original hardware running FreeBSD (with
3 extra NICs) as my firewall/router and a Gateway laptop from 1998.

As a result of all these dead machines, there are no machines available
for use by all the people visiting -- there are two Mac OS X laptops
for use, but I am on my 17" almost 90% of the time I am awake, and
there are often more than 3 people in the house. This means that 2 or
more people have to juggle one 15" PowerBook. I have considered buying
a Mac mini, but with the changes of architecture at Apple, I am
exploring other options (I *will* be buying a 17" x86 PowerBook).

One of those is Sun. In a past life, I was a systems administrator and
worked a great deal with Sun hardware and was pretty familiar with
SunOS and intimately familiar with Solaris 2.5 and up. Last night, I
discovered (a month late) that Solaris has been open sourced. I
remember discussing this possibility with fellow admins and developers
in the late 90s, where a few of us optimists were called crazy for
thinking this was a possibility. I had since given up hope, and haven't
worked with Solaris in about two years, and then only in passing.

I spent several hours yesterday reading developer blogs and browsing
the site
(http://www.opensolaris.org/os/),
and I'm getting pretty
excited about the potential of this move by Sun. It is very likely that
this could move me back into not only using Solaris machines again, but
brushing up on my Solaris sysadmin skills, particularly catching up
with all the work they've done on virtual server technology. Running
python application servers in Solaris virtual machines will provide
many excellent solutions for application architectures.

Anyway, Sun is offering a "free" Opteron Sun box, with a 3-year support
subscription for about $30/month, and I'm heavily leaning towards
purchasing this box to fill the machine gap in the house:


http://tinyurl.com/cf4j2

If that goes well, and I like it, I may get another one for a local
subversion repository/backup development server... If their new
hardware is as solid and reliable as their old stuff (I have a
still-working Sparc server from 1995 that I bought from a DiGEX
employee -- it was the original web server for Dole.com), then I will
be most happy and they will have a new hardware customer for developer
platforms.


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