Robust, scalable, and the keyboard works

Glynn Foster from Sun talks about OpenSolaris on FLOSS Weekly episode 75. After explaining how Solaris has always been a robust, scalable operating system, Foster brags that now on a Toshiba laptop with OpenSolaris pre-installed ” … the volume works, and the keys work…” Then host Jono Bacon laughs “The keys work?!” The dialog starts at about 23:30 into the podcast.

The other host, Leo Laporte, mumbled “so cool” after Glynn Foster says “the volume works” and apparently would have let him get away with saying “the keys work.” But Jono Bacon is the community manager for Ubuntu, a Linux distribution that cares more about whether the volume and keyboard work than whether the OS scales.

It was amusing to listen to Glynn Foster and Jono Bacon personify their respective operating system’s priorities, server performance for Solaris and desktop experience for Ubuntu. Foster says that OpenSolaris used to be a royal pain to install and configure but now it has gotten much better. I don’t know how well Ubuntu scales—I imagine it’s not nearly as scalable as OpenSolaris—but it was designed from the beginning to be easy to install.

2 thoughts on “Robust, scalable, and the keyboard works

  1. John, I think it’s not entirely correct to ask how well Ubuntu scales and to say that Ubuntu “cares more about whether the volume and keyboard work than whether the OS scales.” Starting with the second point, check out Ubuntu server, and the many AMIs based on it. In my view, it scales pretty well. With regards to the second point, you can check out the massive Linux clusters deployed by the likes of IBM and Google, which are on par with, or bigger than, most cluster SUN deployments. Blue Gene uses a modified Linux kernel; enough said.

    There is no doubt that Solaris, or for that sake AIX, have more sophisticated technology (e.g., containers), but that is beside the point. Linux just works (keyboard included) and has 99% of the features everyone will ever need.

  2. Solaris and Ubuntu are not exactly comparable. Ubuntu wasn’t designed to be a new operating system but a distribution of an existing operating system that already had adequate scalability etc. But Ubuntu deserves credit for making the out-of-box experience a priority.

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