Inaccuracy and further comment
Posted Nov 18, 2004 4:57 UTC (Thu) by paulj
Parent article: Solaris 10
Another feature that Sun is touting is Solaris Containers. ... This is, of course, nothing new to Linux users who have already discovered User-Mode Linux or any of the other virtualization solutions available for Linux.
Solaris Containers are not comparable to UML. From a technical standpoint, UML has the overhead of running a full kernel in userspace (and, typically, using PTRACE to trap the processes it runs, which can slow). Solaris Containers is a single-kernel, very low overhead solution, the Linux Vserver project is probably closer in concept.
From an administrative POV, Solaris containers are quite integrated with the rest of Solaris. When you boot Solaris, your zones boot automatically, if you upgrade the 'global' zone, you can if you wish have zones automatically upgraded too. The level of integration with the system as a whole is possibly the most immediately noticeable advantage to Solaris containers.
The company is also making much of binary compatibility with Solaris 10 -- promising customers that older Solaris applications will be able to run unchanged on Solaris 10.
AIUI, Sun has always
made much of binary compatibility for Solaris userspace. This hasnt changed for Solaris 10, AIUI.
According to Sun's executives, Solaris 10 will be open source. However, the company has not yet announced a license, whether the license will be OSI-compliant
I believe top Sun executives, and others, have already on more than one occassion
that Solaris will
be released under an OSI compliant licence, and that they are talking to OSI about this.
A more ominous possibility exists: Sun could release its code under a license which is not only non-free, but which creates problems for any free software developers who look at that code. If Sun's fortunes continue to decline, there is a definite possibility that the company could look to litigation for its salvation. This possibility should be kept in mind by anybody who contemplates going anywhere near the Solaris code.
This paragraph is utter FUD, sorry. Firstly, no one should ever look at code without being aware of the licencing implications, regardless of what that code is. Secondly, as above, the publically stated intent is that Solaris will be released under an OSI-approved licence.
If the Solaris 10 license is GPL-compatible, many of Solaris 10's interesting features will no doubt find their way into Linux. It seems unlikely that Sun would choose that path. On the other hand, if Sun chooses a less friendly open source license, it will have a tough time creating a community that will drive Solaris development or adoption in the same way that the GPL has driven Linux. Either way, Sun seems set to lose with its open source ploy.
Many of Solaris' interesting features are already
in Linux. From a kernel POV, things like the slab cache were described by Sun engineers in USENIX papers many many years ago. Sun made RPC and NFS freely available specifications many many years ago. Sun are a supporting member of and active contributor to X.org (eg X input stuff most recently, that I can yhink of). From a system POV, if you run a Linux desktop you'll likely be using open-source applications which Sun contributed to the development of, or even made possible in the first place (GNOME, OpenOffice). etc.. And of course, Sun's engineering staff often are involved in and contribute to a variety of standards bodies.
Like it or not, Sun are an important contributor to the Unix ecosystem. "They wont embrace Linux, the evil b?$tards!!" or "They settled their lawsuit with M$, the b?$tards!!", imho are not a good reasons to not like them, even sillier reasons to spread FUD for. Competition and cross-polination is good, and its exactly what makes Unix (inc Linux) in its totality the healthy ecosystem it is today, and to that end Sun at least deserve some
LWN is a high-quality read. Its sad to see it publish an article which, IMHO, is so devoid of the usual high-quality technical analysis and objective reporting which we've come to expect from LWN. The (scant) technical details given are in parts wrong, or at least show the author has done little technical research for this article, and the rest of the article is sprinkled with idle speculation if not outright FUD.
NB: I'm a (Linux and Free software loving) Sun employee, who absolutely does not speak for Sun in this post. Opinions are my own, and I held the above (general opinion at least) before ever joining Sun.
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