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JaveOne 2007, Community One

Posted by johnm on May 8, 2007 at 9:07 AM PDT

Sun is, as everybody knows, struggling to get mindshare around their products. This is especially true as they try to get uptake as they open source more of their stuff -- such as Solaris.

Hiring Ian Murdock of Debian fame is a pretty good idea to me. One of the biggest hurdles to (Open) Solaris uptake is the fact that so many things in dealing with Solaris are so annoyingly odd to all the folks who are used to the relatively consistent GNU userland experience and the usable package managers on Linux and *BSD distributions.

Another item that came through over and over again throughout the day was that one of, if not the key reason to use Solaris is DTrace. DTrace is an efficient execution tracing framework and if you haven't used it, you're missing out. Story after story from a wide variety of developers, sys admins, QA folks, etc. touted how using DTrace allowed them to get insight into the actual running of their systems and how big a difference that can make. While it's an open question of whether/when this will make it to Linux, DTrace is already in the next version of OS X and will be in the *BSDs sooner rather than later.

I must say that I was surpised how little I saw emphasizing the coolness of ZFS. It's a modern filesystem designed for the current disk storage and usage reality rather than how things were 20 years ago. Coupling ZFS with Sun's Thumper box is, IMHO, a compelling reason to actually buy Sun hardware. There's no really good filesystems in the open source world if you actually care about your data and want good performance and manageability. ReiserFS is pretty much orphaned and while the ext family are okay for desktop and non-critical servers, they just don't cut it when the data really matters.

Of course, for Java developers, the question is pretty much moot as to whether it's any advantage to go with Linux or Open Solaris. Java runs well on both. It was quite funny to hear some pushback to Greg Luck's (of ehcache) comment that OS doesn't really matter -- just a good JRE implementation. That's just playing out the old Java mantra of "write once, run anywhere" in the real world. Of course, operating system choice does matter to a point -- Greg's own company is an example of moving from to Java because of scalability / performance reasons and days vs. months and years of uptime.

For me, I've used all of them for so long that it's mostly just a question of using what works for any given need. I'm hoping that the continued opening up of Solaris will help spur improvements in the Linux world and that many of the things that we love about the OSS operating systems will help improve Solaris so that moving around from one to the other is even easier.

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