Unix descendants such as Linux and the BSDs have ascended into increasingly more important roles in both the enterprise and consumer spaces. With the recent releases of Red Hat Inc.s Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 and Sun Microsystems Inc.s Solaris 10, both of which eWEEK Labs reviews in this package, the Linux and Unix communities have set their sights on one another.
Backed by the latest major Linux kernel release, Red Hats enterprise distribution has grown significantly more capable of delivering scalable performance on large multiprocessor machines—a territory more commonly associated with Solaris.
Sun, having years ago addressed the architectural issues required to scale Solaris for large multiprocessor systems, is in a position to set its focus higher—on management and diagnostic features that will make administrators lives easier.
However, much more important to the continued relevance of Solaris than the innovations that distinguish it from Linux are the steps Sun has taken to make Solaris more like its younger rival.
Support for the x86 platform was Linuxs raison dêtre back when Linus Torvalds began work on the operating system, and it seems that Sun has finally grasped the importance of running on the worlds most ubiquitous architecture.
In addition, Suns pricing model for Solaris 10—free, with support sold separately and an open-source-licensed version on the way—is a bid to "out-free" Red Hat, which offers no freely available version of its enterprise distribution.
Red Hat—and Linux in general—seems to have the edge in momentum. However, considering the Solaris 10 download numbers that Sun has cited—191,107 SPARC downloads and 348,155 x86 downloads as of Feb. 19—we may be in for quite a battle in the years ahead.
Senior Analyst Jason Brooks is at email@example.com.