Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Sun, Solaris, oh my...

So this place I work for sends me over to the client site to clear up some "issues" with "following industry best practice." What a shock I was in for. Seriously. I don't blame Sun entirely for this, but they sure don't make it easy. Here is what I discovered:

  1. Sun systems administration courses apparently tell you to install everything on a production machine. Everything, including the (now in Solaris 10) gnome palm-pilot development utilities. Including the kanji terminals. Security? Fuck it, let's install the Sun Web Console and webmin. Imagine the surprise when people are shown this document (pdf).

  2. With that confusion out of the way, it seems that true points of pain never seem to get addressed, and in fact seem to get exacerbated with every version. Let's talk Solaris Zones. For the marketecture terminology-allergic like me, this is effectively a collection of scripts to control resources to chroot environments, with some things (like NICs) virtualized. It's not a true virtual machine, but good enough. So, try to do a minimal install that supports that... just once. Not only do you need to install half of X windows (always useful on servers without video cards!), but basically another 300MB of software. Yah, well thought out, that is. So, nicely branded userlinux on Solaris with cute create scripts, but you need to install all this other crap. Thanks.

    I heard this got fixed in "Solaris Express" - the Sun beta operating system. Nice, sounds like a Red Hat release with a .0 on the end.

  3. Solaris package management system still sucks. You still have all these undocumented dependency chains all over the place (see complaint #2, above). Yeah, I heard of Sun's Jet system, but adding DHCP to the environment there was out of the question.

  4. Every vendor for sun software (that would be PeopleSoft and Oracle...) has some jacked up dependencies they need installed in the OS. I have no idea why they do this, other than developers being too bored, and wanting to re-invent the wheel again ("but mine is better, really, it's square!"). Sure, installing everything solves this, since there is no need to experiment. Plus, you can use the X-windows installers. Yeah...

  5. Now, don't get me wrong, the T1000's and T2000's from Sun are actually really cool pieces of kit, but boys, did you think about it when you selected the raid controller? Unlike all your other RAID controllers, you can't turn on drive mirroring after the fact. It needs to be done before the OS is installed. Evidence here. Thanks, you jerks.

  6. Lastly, why on God's earth would you still keep your 32 and 64 bit Java packages separate, after your "What's New in Solaris 10" page states you got rid of the stupid "if the package name ends in x, it's a 64 bit package" and then still keep the 64 bit JVM as a separate one? To add insult to injury, the SUNCuser meta-cluster (collections of collections of packages to install, to the uninitiated, purportedly for "easier installations") does not install the 64 bit JVM on 64 bit hardware. You're killing me!
Alright, that's enough ranting. No matter how tempting, and no matter how much less newer releases of Solaris suck less than the preceding ones, it's an exercise in frustration each time. When my prior employer's Sun rep was told that I was to be working in an all-Solaris shop for a while she apparently almost had her BigBucks Latte coming out of her nose, she laughed so hard. Apparently I gave their sales engineers the hardest time ...

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