Favorite UNIX

Steve Mynott steve.mynott at gmail.com
Mon Oct 2 06:15:31 AEST 2017

On 1 October 2017 at 18:51, Noel Chiappa <jnc at mercury.lcs.mit.edu> wrote:

> Why was Solaris so much worse than SunOS?

Probably because it was so much more buggy on release and people were
more used to BSD and didn't like change and the fact that greedy Sun
had removed the compiler. Solaris 2.3 had core dumps from base
binaries everywhere where SunOS 4.1.3 seemed quite stable.

I ended up admin'ing Solaris 2.5 which seemed mostly fixed but it had
taken 2 or 3 years to become usable. There was a lot of Sun wierdness
like not working with DNS by default and I tended to remove most of
the Sun packages and replace by the GNU ones and qmail.

By the time releases were renumbered to 7 and 8 etc. the writing was
on the wall for Solaris.  That PC under the desk running linux ran
several times faster, had all the extended GNU utilities installed by
default, was much cheaper hardware and open source software compiled
without patching.  I was always a linux advocate in a London based ISP
and many co-workers were still Sun bigots. I particularly remember
them laughing at a version of linux which returned negative ping
times! I also remember the awful flexlm(?) licence server for the
official Sun CC and having to shout out to co-workers in the office
"anyone compiling? I need to". I don't think that lasted long and
drove us quickly to GCC on Solaris.

After a while that PC under the desk became a rack mount server in the
data centre and displaced Solaris.  In many jobs over the last decade
I've seen the odd Solaris server which hadn't been replaced and noone
(apart from me!) wanted to touch. There were lots of gotchas for linux
users. I remember someone crashing Solaris at the BBC with the
"killall" command and everyone filling up /tmp and running out of
swap! But they became less and less in number. The decent techs zfs,
dtrace (mostly) appeared in FreeBSD anyway.  Oracle's licensing fees
were so expensive even banks dropped Solaris.

When I recently fired up one of the open source Solaris clones under a
VM it seemed even wierder than I remember with some bizarre XML based
startup rc system. I didn't have much desire to experiment further.
Firing up BSD 4.3 and SunOS 4.1.4 I was surprised how timeless they
seemed and how close to modern BSDs they were.   I still couldn't
remember how to get SunOS 4 DNS working of course!

Given modern linux developments such as systemd I hope I'll be using
BSD more in the future! Maybe BSD won in the long term ;-)

4096R/EA75174B Steve Mynott <steve.mynott at gmail.com>

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