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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

is Linux being left behind?


Update: has more information about ZFS being included in OSX

Linux is having some major growing pains, and is being constrained by its choice of License. Mainstream press are currently having a field day over GPLv3 and how the GPL community can’t decide if they like it or hate it, at the same time they are saying that if Linux doesn’t use it there will be a major riff in the Open source community. Of course in the end Linux can’t use it because all the submitters to the kernel present and past would need to agree to the upgrade and that just isn’t going to happen, especially when Linux Torvalds just doesn’t see a reason to re-license the kernel. Who knows what the backlash will be when the GPLv3 isn’t adopted by Linux it could just die just because no one is willing to use it.

If the GPLv3 situation is not bad enough they are being left behind in features and usability. Apple’s OSX has ported DTrace and quite possibly ZFS of course they are calling it timemachine. FreeBSD is not far behind in its progress of porting ZFS and DTrace as well. Who knows maybe it wont be long before Apple adandons BSD and moves to Solaris, it simplifies there engineers work can just work on top of a stable OS and not have to do all the work of keeping up with the latest features added to DTrace and ZFS. I’m sure Apple’s engineers already see how nice Solaris code is, they are allready reaping the benefits.

Lately the only news on the Linux front is License battles and the kernel is getting buggier no big news about new features. Of course there is ZFS on FUSE, but who wants to deal real work on a filesystem based in userland especially one that is LVM, Raid manager and multiple filesystem all rolled into one package. Then we have Systemtap it sounds promising but its implementation is broken they are currently chasing its tail fixing bugs that pop up every week, and trying to make it work faster but the only thing they have managed to do is create system that is good at debugging kernel problems. The rest is too unstable to use. Userland probes still are far off, and because they use tapsets experts will have to do most of the work. On the other hand DTrace gives the power to the user to implement probes and functionality without resorting to guru modes. In the end DTrace users are fixing problems with there code as Systemtap users are too busy solving problems in Systemtap.

Solaris still has other features that Linux lacks; there is Zones that give users a quick easy way to do virtualization with none of the extra bloat and admin headaches of chroot, XEN, Userland Linux, or VMware. Brandz sits on top of Zones and gives the user the ability to run Linux apps on Solaris without recompiling. Solaris also has a number of people working on getting Solaris working with XEN.

Some may say that Linux has better hardware support, but Solaris is catching up, and if you are deploying a server its just a matter of buying supported hardware what is an extra $20 for a new NIC? 15 minutes of an engineers pay? A trip to the movies to see hollywoods latest drivel and a bucket of popcorn? Given Sun’s strong relationship with AMD I expect to see improved ATI drivers in Solaris in the near future. Solaris is moving full steam at adding new hardware drivers for iscsi and wireless.

I would not be surprised that lots of software development doesn’t move to Solaris as its development platform, it gives the developer the most stable and powerful platform when you combine ZFS and DTrace and the stable API/ABI it allows the developer to work on his project and not the underlying operating system.


Blogger Tomasz said...

In paragraph about Zones you conveniently left out OpenVZ, Vserver and other container products (Zones are containers, too). Xen, Vmware, Usermode Linux are similar (but different!) concept, they are more ,,bloatly'' but offer higher level of separation.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Dabbi said...

Apple is not using ZFS for timemachine:

Keep up the good work!

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With Nexenta just around the corner, the lead will shift, Linux will drift off further behind. Why bother with Linux when you get all the new stuff for free, and ubuntu userland.

Ubuntu plus Solaris, never look back

9:55 AM  

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