Why are Solaris admins angry?

I think I understand why Solaris system administrators are angry at the world. Their operating system sucks. I have been watching a colleague of mine who is an excellent Linux and Windows administrator learn the workings of Solaris, and he’s been describing some of it to me. I helped him set up Solaris x86 version 10 on a SunFire v20z yesterday, and my god did that suck. The installation took an hour, mostly because the machine sat there trying to detect things that it was ultimately going to ask us about later anyhow, and then it took forever to copy the data from the DVD to the hard disk.

How does an OS still not have logical volume management built in? What do you mean I get eight partitions? AIX has had LVM support for what, 15 years now? Windows, Linux, and HP-UX all have it, too. If you ask me (and I realize you aren’t) the single most annoying and dangerous operation on a machine is growing a filesystem. Oh, it’s so nice when you can just do it while the server is online, without having to shuffle partitions around and copy data. Maybe someday Solaris admins will discover this, too (those that don’t shell out the big bucks for Veritas’ Disk Suite).

Beyond LVM, you get eight partitions, and the system takes two or three of them? So what, I can have five distinct filesystems on my 146 GB disk? Oh, that’s nice and flexible. Why don’t we just make one big root filesystem and be done with it?

Why do the network interfaces all have different names depending on the hardware? Is it not the job of the operating system to abstract that? Why do some machines have hme0 and some have bge0 when it’s all just the primary NIC? Sure, I can see not naming your ATM and Ethernet interfaces with the same convention, but these are all Ethernet NICs? Can’t you just pick a name, like eth0 or something, so that all the admins stuck with this crap can get rid of all the if statements in their scripts?

Solaris admins, I’m sorry that you have to deal with stuff like this. Don’t be angry at the world, or at your brethren with other OSes, just find another OS that doesn’t look like it’s been hacked together by 89 different groups of people, all with different ideas of how things should work and no commonality whatsoever. Your time and sanity are valuable, despite how Sun treats you.

4 thoughts on “Why are Solaris admins angry?”

  1. Wow, get your facts straight before posting information. I have been using the built in Logical Volume Management in Solaris since at least 1997. It was first called Online Disk Suite (ODS), and then Solaris Logical Volume Manager (SLVM) and it is so much more powerful and easy to use than the Linux equivalent. It is *very* easy with SLVM to take an EXISTING partition and bring it under SLVM control and then mirror it.

    Regarding naming Ethernet interfaces, the only time I have ever had to script anything is when I am tweaking a hardware parameter and in that case I want to apply the changes only to a specific type of hardware (hme, bge, ce, nxge, etc.). In that case having the device name match the hardware makes the job easier.

    Regarding installation process, I can’t remember the last time I did an interactive installation. I make use of the automation tools (jumpstart) to do hands off installation and configuration.

    The only Solaris Admins I know who are angry are those who learned BAD habits on Windows or even Linux and get annoyed when Solaris is _different_. Spend some time learning how the OS you are managing works and the tools it supports instead of expecting everything to work the way you first learned.

  2. Thanks for the helpful nrpe post. I read some of your other posts and felt compelled to respond, as a Solaris admin with 15+ years experience:

    Clearly most of your statements are no longer true here in 2011. 🙂 Particularly the LVM stuff.

    1. I think ZFS single-handedly crushes any LVM solution I’ve seen, including Veritas Storage Foundation. I have to disagree with the other responder though… While Solstice/ODS did have its strengths I would take the Linux/AIX/HPUX LVM over it any day.

    2. No Solaris admin with more than a couple servers does interactive installs. Jumpstart/JET are simple and quite powerful. I personally find it easier to deal with than Kickstart. Sun’s x86 hardware blows though, so there is your performance issue. We use HP and Dell here. I work for a major financial company and we have close to 2000 Solaris x86 installations, a failure in production would make the news, so we put a lot of trust in it.

    3. I find it interesting that you say Solaris looks like it was “hacked together by 89 different groups of people, all with different ideas of how things should work”. That’s called “Linux”, and that number is probably closer to 8900000. 😉

    I will agree the NIC naming system leaves something to be desired though. But I could list annoyances in Linux, HPUX and AIX too if I wanted to (Windows is just one large annoyance 😉

  3. Yep, I agree with the NRPE stuff … helpfull

    Anyway, before there was Linux, there was Solaris.
    Solaris is old and has it’s idiosyncrasies.

    And on Solaris (which has not much changed since), there was Veritas …
    If I remember correctly, at the time we we were using Veritas, the PC could only handle a few megs of HD, 640 K of memory and 256 colors …

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