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What is the basic difference between Linux and Solaris?

As both the OS are derived from UNIX so where lies the difference between Linux and Solaris? Are they because of creation by different companies or is there basic difference in between them?

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8 Answers 8

both are unix based and supports the POSIX API but the kernel implementation is completely different. the Solaris (and OpenSolaris) kernel supports some interesting features not supported by the Linux kernel, like ZFS which is probably the best file system at the moment in any operating system, and Zones which allow you to create lightweight instances of the operating system - similar to isolated virtual machines but with much lower overhead.

Another difference is the userland tools. the Linux GNU tools are generally more mature and useful than the Solaris userland tools, but OpenSolaris comes with many of the GNU tools and it's also possible to add the GNU tools to Solaris.

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If you want more detailed comparison of Kernels of Solaris and Linux, have a look at this open solaris page. It explains a LOT! Both are types of UNIX.

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You should have a listen to FLOSS Weekly #88 where Linus Torvalds talks about creating Linux. One of the interesting things he said was at Uni they had Solaris servers, and he wanted his Unix to be like Solaris, and be available to students with no money.

Solaris has a huge install base in enterprises, and tries very hard to not break anything when they release new versions. For this reason, many tools are very slow to change or add features. On the flip side, Solaris has created some really useful code in recent years, including DTrace, ZFS, and Zones.

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I think it's also worth pointing out that Solaris has a rock solid kernel and pre-dates linux yet is propriety software. This usually lends itself to large unix installations and enterprise level users.

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The main difference, historically, is that Linux is actually a kernel with a GNU userland - militants stress that Linux should be called GNU/Linux because of this - and Solaris (actually SunOS) is a kernel with a Solaris userland.

This isn't such a hard and fast rule anymore, evidenced by Nexenta OS for example, which has the Solaris kernel and GNU userland.

The biggest difference from a functionality point of view is that Linux has a lot more device drivers.

Cheers

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is Solaris not also a monolithic kernel? –  PixelSmack Oct 6 '09 at 19:02
    
I guess it depends on your interpretation. Solaris has platform-specific kernel modules required for boot. –  HTTP500 Oct 6 '09 at 21:15
    
@PixelSmack, I think I'm mistaken... I thought the "core kernel" loaded by ufsboot was a microkernel of sorts. I have removed references to monolithic vs. microkernel in my original comment. –  HTTP500 Oct 7 '09 at 2:27

There are two main kinds of UNIX, historically, System V and BSD. Solaris is much more like System V, but Linux is more BSD-like. As such, there are a lot of userland differences.

Further, Solaris is proprietary, whereas Linux is completely open source. There is an OpenSolaris, but it is missing some things that Solaris has.

If you're looking for a widely-supported and popular operating system, then Solaris might not be what you want.

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Main difference is that most common tools like tar, awk, sed, top... and so on are lacking something or are broken and you end up using GNU versions instead. But apart from that it is very stable and has good zoneing support.

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I've read this answer too many times and still can't make out what it is you're trying to say, or which one you're being critical of. –  John Gardeniers Oct 7 '09 at 7:59
    
What they're trying to say is that the options are "different" (because they are used to the GNU ones, with their extensions. Though the awk that ships with Solaris is pretty constrained, and anyone who knows uses 'nawk' or /usr/xpg4/bin/awk) –  jrg Oct 7 '09 at 16:08

The fundemental difference is that on is logically derived from UNIX and written by SUN (solaris) and the other is derived from MINIX and was written by an awful lot of people.

See here

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The only direct Minix heritage in Linux is that the first few iterations used Minix as a development platform (and initially used the Minix file system). –  Vatine Oct 6 '09 at 11:09
    
right, even if it used (for a short while) the minixfs, there's no 'intherited' code –  Javier Oct 6 '09 at 15:22
    
When the extended file system stabilized, all remnants of Minix (besides compatibility with MinixFS) vanished from Linux .. and its not like there were many to begin with. One is a micro kernel, the other monolithic, there really is no comparison. The only shared DNA these days is both use GNU userland components, though Minix uses a lot less of them. –  Tim Post Oct 7 '09 at 5:04
    
so - its just derived. who said it contains minix code now? –  Preet Sangha Oct 20 '09 at 9:22
    
preet, that's like saying my car is Snap-On derived because the mechanic uses their spanners - it makes no sense at all –  Chopper3 Jul 1 '10 at 12:39

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