Sun shines with Solaris 10
Newest version of OS embraces 64-bit x86 platform, boosts security and application supportFollow @infoworld
Solaris 10 is nothing like Solaris 9. When it comes to support for x86 processors, that’s good.
It’s been two years since InfoWorld reviewed Solaris 9 x86, and since then Sun’s flagship OS has been reinvigorated. Solaris 10 embraces a 64-bit version of the x64 architecture with a fast and secure offering -- and its aggressive pricing makes it as affordable as Linux.
Although software support remains weak compared with Windows and Linux, Solaris 10 is arguably the best server OS available today for commodity servers running 32-bit or 64-bit x86 processors (sometimes called x64 processors). Many of the pieces are in place for Solaris enterprise desktops as well, though it suffers from the same end-user complexity and application limitations as does Linux.
I tested Solaris 10 on two Opteron-based systems: a dual-processor Sun V20z server with 4GB RAM and a dual-processor high-end workstationwith 4GB from Electronic Business Solutions (EBS), a long-time Solaris reseller and integrator.
Both systems came with the 64-bit OS preinstalled and configured. The software stack was pure Sun: JES (Java Enterprise System) on the server and JDS (Java Desktop Systems) with StarOffice on the workstation.
After more than a month of use for the server and three weeks for the desktop, the conclusion was clear: Solaris 10 is fast and stable. Its ability to isolate applications into their run-time containers is a strong security feature, and aggressive use of containers should be considered a best practice by Solaris users.
Containers are also a feature of Solaris 10 when running on a desktop, but they’re hidden from view by the Gnome UI; only skilled administrators can configure them for apps such as Web browsers and network-shared resources. In fact, many of Solaris 10’s core functions are hidden from the GUI interface, even if the user is logged in as root, which is a pity. Even manipulations of the network infrastructure require knowledge of Unix utilities.
Three of the Solaris 10’s new core functions stand out as revolutionary: containers, mentioned above; DTrace (Dynamic Tracing); and portable source code.
Containers aren’t virtual machines like VMware; instead, Solaris’ containers provide secure boundaries between individual applications or application groups. Each container can be allocated specific hardware resources, such as access to memory or disks, as well as network bandwidth.
During testing, I configured one container to have exclusive access to a particular Gigabit Ethernet interface, which allowed all other containers to share a different Gigabit Ethernet interface. An application crash in a container shouldn’t affect other containers or the machine as a whole. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), I couldn’t create a crash, so I couldn’t test this feature.
Each container has its own accounts, including root, and is extremely configurable. For any organization concerned about isolating apps for fault management, hosting server consolidation, or partitioning admin privileges, it’s a perfect solution.