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Solaris EOL

I read rumours this morning that Oracle was going to be shutting down all further Solaris development.
Solaris being canned, at least 50% of teams to be RIF'd in short term. All hands meetings being cancelled on orders from legal to prevent news from spreading. Hardware teams being told to cease development. There will be no Solaris 12, final release will be 11.4. Orders coming straight from Larry.

Even if development is stopped, there is still promised support for existing versions for a couple more years, but once the last version runs its course, the game is over.

I have mixed feelings about this, if it is true. I've been with Sun Microsystems since the Sun 3 line and SunOS 3.5, back in the 1980s when the Motorola 68000 CPU was hot stuff. Hell, in those heady days, the OS included a compiler! The machines were sturdy, the screens were huge (cathode ray tubes, naturally) and while they were expensive, they sold like hot cakes. I worked for a Sun VAR in Toronto in the early 1990s, then for the University of Toronto caring for a Sun 3/280 server.

The transition to SPARC and the Sun 4 line was joyful and traumatic. I loved the faster & more powerful CPUs, and the upgrade of our machine was as simple as swapping out a VME board. I did not love Solaris, however. Yeah, SunOS 4.1.5 at that time needed a complete refresh to handle newer communications technologies, extra cores, multi-CPU architectures and such, but it was a solid OS and worked well. Slowlaris was a painfully poor performer and a resource pig by comparison. And it didn't come on quarter-inch tapes: one had to lay down serious money for a CD drive since that was the only distribution method available. And adding insult to injury, it didn't have a development environment by default: it was an extra.

Over the years, my Sun 4/280 gained extra memory and SCSI drives. It was running better than ever, albeit two versions of Solaris later.

After some extra years, a couple of extra jobs and a move to the US, I landed at Fannie Mae for ten years. We were told Fannie Mae was the second largest Sun customer on the east coast (after NASA): I was part of the team which built and maintained their MornetPlus system, mostly built on Sun 250 and Sun 450 machines for data processing and a large pair of Sun 6800 machines for their core cluster. The 6800 machines were standalone, but the 450 models would fit two to a rack --and they weighed a tonne. We were mostly running Solaris 2.6 when I arrived, transitioned to Solaris 8 during my tenure, and began migrating to Solaris 10 as I left (now eight years ago). I loved having a single operating system for our entire enterprise: it made support so much easier, and Solaris 8 was again pretty solid.

While I used Solaris 10 at Fannie Mae and again at Talaris/Rearden Commerce/Deem where I work currently, I've never loved it. Solaris 10 and I tolerated each other. It felt snobbish and repressed. It ran solidly and had some interesting new features (introducing zones), but other kids on the block (eg Linux) seemed to be moving faster and offered more flexibility. And most of all, the new kids were vastly cheaper.

Fannie Mae paid an enormous amount to Sun Microsystems every year for support. Millions of dollars. Oracle bought up Sun Microsystems and continued to support Solaris and release new models of the Sun hardware, but they added their own special Oracle DNA, that is, their desperate desire to drain customers of every penny they had. Support costs soared and purchase prices spiked, although discounts sometimes be had if you bundled together other Oracle products, especially their software.

Even now, I'm typing this while monitoring a storage issue on a Sun T4-1 machine running Solaris 10. It's fine, nothing much to write about. But we're also building a new data center cage, refreshing our entire hardware base and allowing us to retire & scrap our old systems by spring of 2017. Sun will not be part of the new cage: the Solaris stops here.

As I said, Solaris 10 and I never loved each other, but after Larry Ellison got his mitts on it all, I knew it was time for me to start dating other operating systems. Our on-again-off-again affair had run its full course.

So reading that Oracle is tossing in the metaphoric towel on Solaris (and presumably the hardware line too) is like seeing an obituary notice in the newspaper for an old boyfriend. It's a sad thing and I'll remember the good times, but I let go along time ago.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 3rd, 2016 05:57 pm (UTC)
Welcome to the Old Time OS Club, my friend. I'm a veteran of the Wang Labs wars (OIS, VS, 2200) and the Novell wars (NetWare, Open Enterprise Server). While OES hasn't been discontinued (yet!), it's just a matter of time before Micro Focus kills it off. My environments these days are mostly VMware, Windows 2012 R2, and SLES 11/12.

(And Jim Graham still continues to insist over dinner that he works for Sun, not Oracle.)
Dec. 4th, 2016 06:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, this isn't my first time outliving an OS. I have no idea if VM/CMS is still a thing as it's dropped off my radar entirely. VAXen and Ultrix are gone. System III Unix and the Integrated Solutions line are gone. Is HP-UX still around? I still love SunOS although it's been gone for decades. And then there were the Commodore machines... I still have 6502 assembly opcodes and system calls rolling around in my memory.
Dec. 4th, 2016 07:50 pm (UTC)
I have one customer still running a network of 75+ HP-UX physical servers.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 4th, 2016 06:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Sparcstations... Fun machines. Especially the ones with the hard drive sticktion problem. :-)

We had a lot of 450 models at Fannie Mae. Yup, four CPUs and 4GB of RAM: they had decent CPU power and were reliable workhorses. Their big advantage though was having bays for a large number of disks (16?) so we could have lots of local storage. The default disk controllers didn't do RAID though and the disks were aligned into four per controller so we had to be cautious about the data layout for best performance.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )