Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
How good in Linux/SPARC compared to Solaris

By blackhole_1 in Technology
Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 02:00:21 PM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

I am thinking of converting one of the Sun machines which I manage to Linux/SPARC. The main reason being that I am quite proficient with Linux/x86. I have very little knowledge about Solaris. I am able to find info and patches very easily for Linux but not for Solaris. Since I don't have much knowledge, I don't wish to touch things unnecessarily and break them which again leads to inefficiency in the system.

My question is what will I gain and lose by moving to Linux


Almost all of the domain-specific software we run is available as source code. Hence I don't expect any difficultly in getting them to compile under Linux.

Some questions I have are:

  • How good is the performance of ext2 compared to UFS
  • We already have user directories on a UFS disk. How stable is the write part of the UFS support in the Linux kernel.
  • Suppose I convert to ext2 and later decide to install Solaris, is there an ext2 library for Solaris
  • How good is the support in Linux to run SunOS binaries
  • Do applications perform slower or faster on average under Linux compared to Solaris. I heard that apps are only 32-bit in Linux as opposed to (optionally) 64-bit under Solaris

My main reason to shift to Linux is that I am able to find a lot more system administration info for Linux than for Solaris. For example, I haven't been able to figure out how to probe the video hardware capabilities using software i.e. change bit-depth etc. Is there an equivalent of ipchains under Solaris? What ports do I need to turn off in order to secure Solaris. How do I prevent RPC from listening to the world when running X?

So am I mistaken about Solaris info being scarce? docs.sun.com isn't of much help as far afaik

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Related Links
o Also by blackhole_1


Display: Sort:
How good in Linux/SPARC compared to Solaris | 13 comments (12 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Mmph. (4.22 / 9) (#2)
by pb on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 03:24:17 AM EST

That's a big question. I'd love to see some benchmarks, statistics, or arguments here. If you do get to install Linux on one of your boxes, could you do some testing? :)

The UltraLinux FAQ should answer some of your questions, at least. Linux kernel >=2.2 should have UFS read/write built-in, I'm guessing it's stable. Linux's syscalls look to be faster in their benchmarking.

I couldn't find any filesystem benchmarks for ext2 vs ufs, but they have the same basic underlying design, and ext2 has a lot of speed improvements built-in--I don't know what Sun has done to improve ufs performance.

Also, test the compilers while you're at it; gcc is good on x86, but I doubt it does as well on SPARC; compare it at least to the standard Sun Workshop compiler if you can.

Good luck!
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall

UFS = FFS I think (3.33 / 3) (#3)
by kraant on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 06:11:54 AM EST

There may be some small differences but UFS is essentialy the same as FFS which the BSDs use so if you want to compare the two and can't find UFS benchmarks FFS benchmarks should be fairly informative.
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]
hmmm (1.25 / 4) (#4)
by maketo on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 08:33:46 AM EST

I thought gcc was always one of the crappier compilers around....
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
[ Parent ]
Crappiness of gcc (3.83 / 6) (#5)
by fluffy grue on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 10:32:55 AM EST

gcc was pretty crappy for certain braindead architectures (*cough*x86*cough*) for many years, yes, though it's always been decent-ish for RISC. egcs set about to change that, and egcs is gcc now, so unless you're running an old pre-merge version of gcc (2.8.x or earlier, IIRC), you can probably stop holding older versions of gcc against it.

Yeah, its x86 optimizer will probably never be as good as, say, Watcom's or MSVC's, but they were designed from the ground up to be a single-purpose x86 compiler, whereas gcc is more about flexibility and portability. I think that not-as-good optimization is a decent tradeoff for being able to compile any language to any platform, don't you?
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Try it! (4.28 / 7) (#6)
by stepson3 on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 03:31:08 PM EST

I guess maybe I'm a bit biased, since I learned Unix on Solaris, but try running Solaris for a while! If you persue a career in System Administration, or the like, you may end up having to admin a few boxes, where an application cannot be easily ported to linux/sparc and you'll have to support it ...

Some things are very easy to do in Linux, like downloading and installing code from source. Not that it isn't easy in Solaris, but its definatly easier when most developers are coding with linux/x86 in mind. Also, depending on the hardware, I wonder how easy it would be to get X to work ... older version of Solaris come with X11R5, although I think they have recently upgraded to X11R6....

I've heard linux is faster on suns than Solaris is. Give it a try and let us know! I worked at a company where I had an old Ultra 5 (110Mhz Sparc processor), but I never got around to loading Linux on it (got ahold of a p2 box which was a lot faster/newer). It was pretty slow running Netscape for example, but decent with the built-in motif apps ... (textedit anyone?).

Getting sun patches isn't too hard. Actually, I wish linux had a centralized place for patches like solaris does, where you could get kernel patches, security fixes, etc etc, but I digress. I believe you can get patches from sunsolve.sun.com, and you should be able to get individual ones, or patch bundles (Sun usually has 'recommended' and 'security' patches for each version of the OS, one for x86 and one for sparc). Its nice.

I don't think you're going to get Solaris to read ext2 partitions (easily), but stranger things have happened. I also don't think Linux will run SunOS binaries at all.
www.solariscentral.com is a decent site for solaris information, and they usually have links to other sun-related sites.
Ever hear Linux tirade about how he doesn't want to make changes to have linux run better on "Big Iron", as then it might not run so good on a 386 with 8 megs of ram? I think the reason Linux is faster on a "sun box" than solaris, is that solaris had to make the tradeoff to be able to run on say a 64-way SMP E10,000 box. So if you've got an Ultra 10 or the like, I say load Linux on it ...

Solaris scalability (4.80 / 10) (#7)
by Keepiru on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 07:19:33 PM EST

My opinion - and treat it as such, an opinion, not gospel truth - is that you're best of running Solaris on Sun machines, and running Linux on x86 boxes.

Linux works well on Sparcs. I've used it in the past, and it certainly makes the most of the hardware. It's got a lighter footprint, so it runs well in small-RAM configurations. It seems to run fast. I don't have any benchmarks, but on the few old Sparc 5's that I've run Linux on, they just felt a lot faster than when they were running Solaris 2.5.1 (The standard, when I was experamenting around a lot).

From what I've been told: Ext2 is a (somewhat distant) variant of UFS. In general, it will have the same performance benefits and problems as UFS. It makes a few optimizations that UFS doesn't, and I am told that the performance is somewhat better, but I can't confirm that personally, and I don't have any statistics to back it up.

My argument against Linux is twofold -

1, If you're short on resources, why are you using a Sparc? If you can only afford 32MB of RAM for your machine, you should be investing in cheap PC boxes. Frankly, Sun's harware really isn't worth the money when you're dealing with little machines (desktops and the like). Buy an x86 box. That's where the bang for the buck is. If your machine has 256 MB of RAM, you're never going to notice that Solaris is a little bigger than Linux. (Solaris has a lot of software that it likes to run by default.) The only reason I would use a Sun on the desktop is if you're trying to create a homogenous environment, where you want everything to work the same everywhere - but then, you should be using Solaris, shouldn't you? No point in using the same hardware if you're going to change the OS.

2, Scalability. Point 1 was for small machines. This point is for what happens when you're building a big mahcine. The Linux kernel doesn't scale to multiprocessor machines very well. This is where Solaris truly shines. Linux is beginning to get some coarse threading in the kernel, but it's nowhere near as good as the Solaris kernel. On 1 processor, this doesn't matter. On 2 processors, you're going to start noticing problems in the filesystem and network, though it's still faster than a single processor machine. On 4 processors, you're going to start getting to the point where there are idle processors all waiting for one processor to run the kernel on a very busy machine. It gets ugly fast. Mind you, this is a problem that people know about. It *IS* being worked on, and I expect future versions will get better.

Sun's OS is excellent. If you're looking for a top-notch server OS, it really doesn't get better. Don't throw it away just because you're not familiar with it - no, ls isn't in color, and no, it doesn't come with less presinstalled for you, and for luxuries like this, I greatly prefer Linux on my desktop computer - but learning how it does things different from Linux is well worth the time, and will greatly expand your understanding of Unix as a whole.

--Kai
--slashsuckATvegaDOTfurDOTcom


ext2fs vs ufs (3.50 / 4) (#8)
by Smiling Dragon on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 09:11:01 PM EST

I can't stand solaris and quite like linux (both are actually pretty dodgy in my opinion but then we're all os bigots at heart :)

My preferance between the two filesystems would be ufs though. I've yet to see a ufs system go 'funny' while I've watched two e2fs disks go spastic in the last four months even though the underlying disk was fine. I'm inclined to blame fluctuating power but the ufs sparcs were on the same power supply and just coped. I should note here that all these boxes were sparcstations of some sort or another.

I have zero scientific proof, zero control in the experiment, zero real logic and reasoning, it's just a gut feeling I've developed as a result of using the gear.

UFS with logging seems the best of a bad group too me. (AdvFS would still have to be my pref I'd say <grin>).

-- Sometimes understanding is the booby prize - Neal Stephenson
More info in older article comments (3.00 / 3) (#9)
by Merekat on Tue Nov 28, 2000 at 06:45:49 AM EST

You might want to take a run through the comments for this. article, especially because it is written with the opposite question in mind. That should give you the evangelists and detractors for both sides:)

---
I've always had the greatest respect for other peoples crack-pot beliefs.
- Sam the Eagle, The Muppet Show

Performance (4.00 / 4) (#10)
by jbellis on Tue Nov 28, 2000 at 02:53:18 PM EST

(I can only comment on the sun4m architecture; I have two SS10s running Linux.)

Ext2 itself is fine, BUT the SCSI driver for Linux on Sparc hardware sucks rocks. I was getting throughputs (as reported by hdparm) of about 2.5 MBps. Compare with > 20 MBps on Intel hardware! Again, it's not the hardware's fault, but the sparclinux driver.

Answers to your questions (3.33 / 6) (#11)
by KindBud on Tue Nov 28, 2000 at 03:38:00 PM EST

How good is the performance of ext2 compared to UFS

Someone else already pointed out that the scsi driver sucks. I can confirm that. The filesys is not the problem.

We already have user directories on a UFS disk. How stable is the write part of the UFS support in the Linux kernel.

Not very.

Suppose I convert to ext2 and later decide to install Solaris, is there an ext2 library for Solaris

Not that I am aware of.

How good is the support in Linux to run SunOS binaries

Poor.

Do applications perform slower or faster on average under Linux compared to Solaris. I heard that apps are only 32-bit in Linux as opposed to (optionally) 64-bit under Solaris

That's correct, however, in general, 64bit apps perform more slowly than 32bit. That stands to reason. 64bit is useful when you need to address large amounts of memory, more than 32bit can address.

My main reason to shift to Linux is that I am able to find a lot more system administration info for Linux than for Solaris

You haven't looked hard enough. Solaris info is plentiful. Start with news:comp.unix.solaris.

For example, I haven't been able to figure out how to probe the video hardware capabilities using software i.e. change bit-depth etc.

Try man X.

Is there an equivalent of ipchains under Solaris?

IP-filter. Search for it, you'll find it.

What ports do I need to turn off in order to secure Solaris.

The same ones you need to turn off for Linux. fuser -k /usr/sbin/inetd takes care of most of them. /etc/init.d/rpc stop takes care of the rest.

How do I prevent RPC from listening to the world when running X?

X doesn't need RPC. The CDE does. Don't run CDE. Run blackbox or something else.

So am I mistaken about Solaris info being scarce?

Yes.

--
just roll a fatty

Hardware + Software the real value (4.50 / 2) (#12)
by dustintodd on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 09:10:59 AM EST

Issues related to performance and driver support have been discussed in detail, so I will move on. One of the things I find most valuable about running Solaris on Sun hardware is the software features that make the hardware environment more easily supportable. A great example of this is psradm command. This allows you to admin processors open or down on smp system with out taking the system offline. This is just one example of the work Sun has done to make the combination of hardware and software more valuable then the sum of its parts.

But I do believe it would benefit Sun to embrace Linux. I have watched the shift over the years as the primary development platform for open source software has move from Solaris to Linux. Solaris is now a ported to platform for many projects, where as other platforms use to be the destination of the ports. In short the quality of many open source software is now lower on Solaris.

Of course history has proven many times that software support has been a key factor in determining success of a platform. For now I remain entrenched Sun on Sun user, but probably more for the excellent hardware produced by Sun and current quality of the Linux port to UltraSparc. I think most would continue purchasing Sun what ever *nix was supported OS for that hardware. I don't think I have ever met anyone that purchased Sun only because of Solaris.

- Dustin -

Old hardware (none / 0) (#13)
by Nickus on Mon Dec 04, 2000 at 03:17:15 AM EST

If you have older sparc hardware like an SS5 I think Linux i preferable. It is more lightweight than Solaris and if you don't have that much memory either it really makes a big difference.

But if you need to be compatible with the Solaris environment you can't get more compatible than running Solaris :-)



Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
How good in Linux/SPARC compared to Solaris | 13 comments (12 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!