Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Are there any advantages to using OpenSolaris, other than ZFS, rather than using a common linux distribution such as CentOS or Ubuntu?

I ask because I'm interested in using OpenSolaris on AWS to take advantage of ZFS-snapshots for backing up to S3 -- specifically for MySQL backups. I'd like to know if OpenSolaris has clear advantages over CentOS for running webservers in the cloud.

share|improve this question

closed as too broad by masegaloeh, mdpc, Andrew Schulman, fuero, Jenny D Apr 28 '15 at 14:31

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

community wiki? – sybreon Feb 8 '10 at 15:40
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Yes, many. Just to name a few :

  • DTrace, which allows you to display detailled and precise statistics about ressource usage using one line scripts
  • SMF, which allows a clean and streamlined management of services. For example, it restarts services that crash and display short explanations about services refusing to stard.
  • the included firewall is very simple to use.
  • Loooong support cycle (somewhat depending on Oracle but for the past it has been long)
  • xVM, Xen integration made trivial
  • Zones, very simple to create, administer and use.

I could go on for a while. I have switched my personal machines from Debian to OpenSolaris and am not looking back.

share|improve this answer

The downsides :

  • very little drivers. If you plan to use anything but very standard hardware, be prepared for lots of pain. Even getting an off-the-mill IBM server running is atrocious.
  • disk performance sucks. I mean compared to the standard ill-configured ext3 linux disks, ZFS flies. However compared to a properly configured XFS it's unbelievably slow.
  • Lots of idiosyncrasies break from old Unix hats habits entrenched in our souls for 30 years :-)
share|improve this answer
I agree with your first comment but my experience hasn't been that ZFS is slow. There are some known raid/sata controllers that have issues with OpenSolaris though but that goes back to your first point. However your third point is a personal problem not a problem with OpenSolaris. Jumping from Linux to Unix is not going to be without some idiosyncrasies. As GNU userspace tools are different than what you'll find on a Unix. But it's annoying having to figure out the basics again like how to get the output you expect from something like ping host. – 3dinfluence Feb 8 '10 at 15:52
"my experience hasn't been that ZFS is slow." Yeah, it all boils down to what you're calling "slow". Real life performance on similar serious hardware is much lower ( locally or through NFS). – wazoox Feb 9 '10 at 10:20

Some other OpenSolaris points:

  • API stability, Gnu/Linux has no commitment on interfaces so software, and especially device drivers, can break with a new kernel or library release. Recompilation is often required for modules. (Open)Solaris has committed interfaces that stay compatible with new releases.
  • Snap-upgrade (linked to ZFS). You can rollback to a previous system installation should you mess something for some reason.
  • fair share scheduler / real-time scheduling class available standard
  • RBAC (grant Administrator Role to yourself), simpler to administrate and use than sudo, fine grain privileges removing many of the root suid requirements.
  • NFSv4 ACLs with ZFS
  • network virtualization (crossbow)
  • branded zones (Gnu/Linux and Solaris 10 zones).
  • ZFS deduplication, this is pretty new (dev releases) but really cool.
share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.