From:"Sys Admin News" <> 
Subject: Sys Admin Magazine -- May 2003 News and Reviews
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 11:42:56 -0700

	Sys Admin Magazine -- News and Reviews	 
		      May 2003

This month, Zonker takes Solaris(tm) 9 for Intel for a spin and 
it to Solaris for SPARC. 
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Review: Solaris 9 
by Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier 

Since Sun recently reaffirmed its support for Solaris on Intel, I 
decided to take Solaris 9 for Intel for a spin. I also have a Sun 
Ultra 10 box, so I tested Solaris for SPARC as well to see how Solaris 
for Intel stacks up to its sibling. 

It's been a rocky road for Solaris on Intel. There was a lot of doubt 
whether Sun would continue to offer Solaris for Intel-based systems, 
but Sun seems to have decided that they need to play in the Intel 
space as well as on their own proprietary hardware. 


Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first -- in terms of the 
"out-of-the-box" experience, Solaris for Intel leaves a lot to be 

Slow, clunky, and fragile. That's how I'd describe the Solaris for 
Intel installer. I realize that the installation process should only 
be a small factor in judging an operating system -- but when the 
installation procedure is a major impediment for actually getting 
the system up and running, it's a problem. I don't mind a very basic 
installer, or even a slightly unfriendly installer so long as it works 
how often am I going to be installing an operating system, anyway? 

I installed, or rather attempted to install, Solaris on five different 
systems. The installer simply hung on two systems and failed to 
the hard drive on another. On another machine, I completed the 
(I think), but on reboot I was greeted with a "Bad PBR" error. For the 
record, I tried both the DVD and CD-ROM installers with equal lack 
of success. 

In all fairness, Solaris may have had trouble finding one of my hard 
drives because it was attached to an add-on ATA 133 PCI card instead 
of to one of the primary IDE controllers. Still, Red Hat found the 
hard drive just fine. In fact, all of the systems that caused trouble 
for Solaris for Intel have worked just fine with several flavors of 
Linux and/or FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD, so I'm surprised that a 
company with Sun's resources can't create an installation program 
that will handle a wider variety of x86 hardware. The last time I 
had this much trouble finding compatible hardware was when I tried 
out BeOS. 

I think if Sun wants to compete in the x86 market, they have a lot 
of work to do on their installer and their hardware support. I 
expect that I'd have no problem at all if I were installing Solaris 
on an x86 box that was built by Sun, but if Sun wants to compete 
with Linux as a viable Unix on Intel, I should be able to install 
Solaris on just about any x86 hardware. I did finally install 
Solaris on an Intel box, but I was disappointed that it was such a 
chore finding a machine that could handle it...or, more appropriately, 
that Solaris could handle. 

Installing Solaris 9 on my Ultra 10 box was a totally different 
experience. I had been running Debian GNU/Linux on the machine, 
so I did a fresh install of Solaris 9. It took a while, but went 
very smoothly. The installer isn't an all-singing, all-dancing 
wizard-fest like some of the Linux distributions, but it's easy 
enough to follow and certainly no more difficult than it needs 
to be. The Intel and Solaris installers share the same interface, 
so an admin familiar with Solaris on one platform should have 
little problem working with both platforms. 

To read the rest of Zonker's review, visit:
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