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Linus dismissive of Solaris

December 22, 2004

So, whilst going through my daily fix of Slashdot , I chance upon this . I read it as Solaris/x86 has poor driver support. I guess Linus couldn’t very well say that Solaris virtual memory subsystem sucks :). I’ve heard similar dismissive comments from vendors during a Linux conference in HK and it’s sad that whilst Sun is opening the source, people aren’t opening their minds.

Whilst its true that Solaris x86 supports fewer hardware than other open source operating systems like Linux/FreeBSD/NetBSD/OpenBSD, what it does support it supports quite well. I for one would be very grateful if Solaris/x86 were to support the 3ware raid controller cards. Solaris 10 + ZFS and with Sun’s robust NFS server implementation would mean that Solaris owns the build-your-own NAS market. 3ware is supposedly looking into this

Sun has supported a lot of large open source applications including Gnome, OpenOffice and Mozilla. I am most familiar with the Mozilla developer community so I will write a bit about what I see missing from Sun wrt Mozilla community.
For those new to Mozilla development, Mozilla developers hang out on irc.mozilla.org in various channels. Won’t list them here.
There is always some developer or the other on the channel generally talking about the codebase, answering users question (even if they are in the developer channel) etc. I see engineers from Redhat, IBM and other organizations who have a vested interest in Mozilla on that channel. However, I haven’t come across Sun engineers on that channel unless they are having some issues with a commit they just did and the tree is burning.

Sun has a fairly large team in Beijing (all hail our mainland masters ) and it should be possible that like IBM/Redhat engineers they also mingle with others and not work in isolated silos. I’ve mentioned this to Henry Jia sometime back. Is it a cultural issue ? I don’t know.

Similarly, Sun could loan a pre-configured Solaris 10 box with Sun Studio to Mozilla Foundation and provide a walkthrough with Dtrace and libumem. If either or both of these technologies helps Mozilla performance, then its great for the Mozilla community and reflects well upon Sun.

Sun is looking for a community to sprout around OpenSolaris. Their behaviour with existing open source communities will shape the perception of potential OpenSolaris community members.

Solaris is not just the kernel. It’s a combination of the kernel and the desktop environment. The kernel group has done phenomenal work in getting the message out about Solaris 10 technologies such as Dtrace, Zones, SMF and FireEngine.
The OpenOffice/Mozilla/Gnome groups in Sun need to do the same. You see Dan Williams of Redhat responding to users at osnews.com in the discussion about OpenOffice 2.0 Preview . I’d expect someone from Sun to be also there clarifying misconceptions and communicating the larger picture.

I was chatting with Alvaro Lopez Ortega who works in Sun Ireland a few days back and mentioned to him about event ports and how I felt that would be great to have in his high performance web-server Cherokee . He hadn’t heard about it :(. I told him to drink the Solaris kool-aid and get cracking on better support for Solaris with Cherokee. But before that Alvaro has to do the autoconf magic to get Cherokee to compile with Fedora Core 3.

Maybe there is a lot of low hanging fruit to pick in terms of internal evangalizing which Sun needs to do.

Categories: General
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