How would I decide which one to use?

We plan to run our own http/https webserver and also to run sendmail smtp server. We will be using ZFS for boot partition and use ZFS encryption where possible (everywhere except OS).

We will not be using UNIX user security features beyond user, group, permissons. As in no role based security or any of that stuff. To lock things down, we will create our own program that runs as root and can be operated by the lower privileged user by logging in through our own device.

What features are missing in Solaris 10 that exist in Solaris 11? (assuming the latest update on both which as of this post is 9/2010 for both Solars 10 and 11)

  • 6
    I assume you don't want someone to carefully compile a list of every possible difference between the two and list it here because that would be lazy and disrespectful, so if we're down to differences that matter to you... well only you can answer that for sure.
    – Rob Moir
    Mar 23, 2011 at 17:32
  • For anyone referring to this thread. v11 still includes 'bart', but also introduced a configurable compliance checker, along with an open SCAP pkg. Apr 26, 2018 at 16:58

6 Answers 6


Please note that Solaris 11 has not been released but that should happen until the end of this year (or sooner).

With that in mind, your options are Solaris 10 and Solaris 11 Express. Both are supported in production and will require you to buy a license. So I'm assuming that's not a problem.

Since you're asking which one to use, I'm also assuming your company doesn't have a hard policy in place. Solaris 11 Express is the continuation of the OpenSolaris project and offers a lot of improvements (there are tons of documents detailing it) and it has access to a much bigger list of current software ready to be installed.

The problem with Solaris 11 Express is that the path to Solaris 11 is not clear, although it shouldn't be hard since both will be based on IPS. People have upgraded from OpenSolaris 2009.6 (b111) to Solaris 11 Express (b151a) without much trouble but that still means you'll have to stop in the near future to upgrade to Solaris 11 "proper". In some environment that's not desired but I'm guessing in your web server it should be acceptable.

It's very hard to decide this for you but, unless you've more rigid software requirements that mandate you use Solaris 10 (in that case you wouldn't be asking here), I advise you to install and test Solaris 11 Express. Solaris 10 is nowhere near it's end of life but it's nevertheless sooner than Solaris 11 will be. Solaris 11 Express also offers a more pleasant experience for people used to Linux/BSD environments.

  • 1
    Solaris 11 has since been released (on Nov. 9, 2011).
    – alanc
    Dec 10, 2011 at 20:57

Absent other factors (known bugs that affect your environment/planned environment, vendor/software requirements, existing corporate environment, etc.), install the latest version of the OS you intend to use.

  • 12
    It's one louder.
    – Chopper3
    Mar 23, 2011 at 17:10
  • 3
    @Chopper3, Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number?!
    – Chris S
    Mar 23, 2011 at 17:15
  • 4
    @Chris ... these go to 11.
    – Hyppy
    Mar 23, 2011 at 17:16
  • 2
    I'll show all you young whipper-snapper Unix-y types! IBM Z/OS baby! Ours goes to 13!
    – voretaq7
    Mar 23, 2011 at 17:27

Given your ZFS encryption requirement, your only choice is Solaris 11 Express. Solaris 10 doesn't support ZFS encryption and probably never will.


As you have mentioned that you are planning to do ZFS encryption , you have to choose Solaris 11 itself because there is no encryption possible in Solaris 10


Solaris 11(former OpenSolaris) has enhancement on its Network stack, it can create virtual-nics, using dladm.

Solaris 11 can turn it self into a switch/router/firewall, you can build a virtual network environment (multiple VMs, switches, traffic-throttle) in sol11.

Take a look at Solaris 11 manual and manpage of dladm(1m) in Solaris 11


What features are missing in Solaris 10 that exist in Solaris 11? (assuming the latest update on both which as of this post is 9/2010 for both Solars 10 and 11)

It is actually the other way around: Solaris 11 is missing compressed OS images (Flash archives), JumpStart (replaced with "Automated Installer"), and sparse zones (the IPS team could not figure out how to make IPS work with them, so they just ditched them).

The image packaging system ("IPS") purposely does not support any scripting, so one must come up with workarounds implemented as SMF manifests. This means that if one has a large library of System V packages with lots of encapsulated scripting, one is now looking at a massive re-engineering effort using a severly crippled IPS software management subsystem.

Additionally, 32-bit platform support, and various drivers which were in Solaris 10 are missing in Solaris 11.

  • 1
    SVR4 packages can still be installed on Solaris 11, you'll lose some benefits of IPS, but don't have to convert your entire library.
    – alanc
    Feb 13, 2015 at 23:59
  • 1
    v11.2 has something similar to flash archives -- unified archives. v11 might not have sparse zones, but enabling compression and/or dedup on the dataset used by zones can make it negligible. IPS also allows "patching" of the zones to be extremely fast. On v10, even w/parallel patching it was slow. Apr 26, 2018 at 16:50

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