Sunday, December 10, 2006

Best Operating System for geeks?

Most wannabe geeks would say Linux, though it is just a kernel and not an OS. Some would answer Ubuntu or Gentoo depending on which is the 'in thing'. A few people would perhaps say MacOS X is the best. Windows, of course, is not the one geeks want to be associated with.

One more OS is making waves in the academia and business world and with serious geeks for the last yr or so, after it was open sourced. For all the right reasons. That is the grand daddy of all, the most popular Unix - Solaris OS. No other operating system, not even Linux can claim to have as much geeky meat as Solaris. Some of the mouth watering stuff in Solaris 10, especially for geeks include:

Zones - software virtualization feature which has no match in any other OS. I can't remember which technology in any other OS comes even close. BSD jails, perhaps.

ZFS - the ultra modern file system, again with no match. The only thing that comes close is VxFS but ZFS is free with source code in the open.

DTrace - again no match anywhere. The capability to look into each and every place into the kernel and other parts in a running system using DTrace is unparalleled. It has been winning accolades all over. SystemTap for Linux is still not complete and its design makes it unlikely to be able to compete with DTrace in the future.

BrandZ - It gives you the capability to run Linux apps on top of Solaris. For example, you can run a version of Linux like CentOS right inside a Solaris Zone. Say you want to play Quake or use Google Earth which don't have Solaris apps; just create a Zone in Solaris, install your Linux in the zone and play away with the apps which are available in Linux. How more geeky can one get!

Of course, serious business won't play games. For them there are other more serious features like:
Fault Management Architecture (FMA), Service Management Framework(SMF), etc.

Linux is a good Operating System and has the advantage of having more drivers. But in almost everything else, Solaris scores higher. Now that it is open sourced it should get people interested in creating drivers. The community and codebase of Solaris is called OpenSolaris. Looking at the number of posts and projects there, it really looks like a dynamic and vibrant group of geeks.


Anonymous said...

my favourite one is ubuntu and i love it


Anonymous said...

Ubuntu is a good Operating system. If you want to play around with a lot more features on a real Enterprise class Unix then you've got to give Solaris 10 a try. Just my thoughts!

Nathan said...

I have to say that this was well put...

...and informative...

Andrew S said...

Solaris is definately looking like a winner for the future.

I don't think Ubuntu is for real geeks. Debian is where it is at. Ubuntu is what brought me back to Linux but once I wanted to tinker and implement more advanced things Debian is a much better platform. It tends to provide more of a stable base on which to build rather than the crazy wobbly on the edge version of Ubuntu.

Anonymous said...

Now that Debian founder "the Ian in Debian" is at Sun, Solaris could get even better for end-users.

Leandro said...

My guesses on this one would be two: Gentoo on the Linux side and OpenSolaris on the Unix side.

I say Gentoo because it's not for everyone: you'll have to do it all by yourself and the hardcore way.
You have to configure every aspect by hand. By default you have almost nothing, don't have a GUI, an automounter, drivers for devices, utilities, nothing; you have to download and compile everything using Portage's emerge utility.
It's definitely not for the faint of heart.
It took me almost 3 weeks to properly install it on a PIV for the first time and regular Linux (like Ubuntu or openSUSE) only takes a couple of hours tops.

On the other hand is OpenSolaris: the newest adittion to Sun's repertoire. It's composed of kind of highly experimental projects, with cutting edge features that in time will be added to the stable branch of Solaris.

I think OpenSolaris is less common than the first one. I know about it because I'm a Solaris sysadmin. I use it at home for my personal storage (with ZFS of course). At work and at home I have Gentoo as a desktop. And I have to have Windows for the games and to be used by my girlfriend when Linux get off her nerves. ;)

Anonymous said...

I came from BSD and was forced to work with Solaris. It made me shiver. They clearly haven't heard of K.I.S.S or the principle of least surprise.