Linux is killing Solaris

This just in from the “duh, obvious” department… Linux is killing Solaris.

Search Google for “htop on Solaris.” You’ll probably find the very page you’re reading right now. There were plenty of hits for solaris, top, and htop, but none for solaris and htop together. (Editor’s note: not 5 minutes after publishing this article, Google has this very page as the first hit for ‘htop on solaris.’ See comments.)

We got used to htop’s color-coded bars in a console for our messaging system, and then we deployed to a datacenter on Sun hardware without htop. prstat just isn’t quite the same.

What’s htop? htop is a little command-line tool for Linux that’s similar to top but shows CPU and Memory usage visually in simple text format. It’s not flashy or whiz-bang. It’s a simple yet effective way of seeing what’s going on inside your OS at a quick glance.

So, what does this have to do with killing Solaris? We couldn’t find even a single person interested in running htop on Solaris (besides us). Other programs (like pound) have either been ported to Solaris or at least talked about somewhere else on the internet. We couldn’t even find a discussion about htop on Solaris. There’s just no interest.

I admit this is a specious argument at best, the thinnest of strawmen. But more subtly, an entire generation of Linux geeks are getting used to GNU tools that are similar but not quite like their non-GNU Unix counterparts. For example, I’m frustrated that I can’t simply type “tail -n 200 <file>” on Solaris. The -n argument is not the same. Add up enough of these little differences and I find myself wanting to work in a Linux environment where I’m more familiar. Linux captured the low-end of the market, revitalizing the old PCs people had lying around the house. The next generation is cutting their teeth on GNU/Linux, not Solaris. Sorry, BSD.

But like I said, this is from the “duh, obvious” department. It’s not particularly insightful. I’m merely a consumer reflecting on my choice of server OS. But if I’ve learned one thing in life, it’s that we’re not as unique as we think we are. There are probably other people thinking/feeling/experiencing the same thing you are. You might be part of a larger trend.

Happily, we’re only temporarily deploying to Solaris. Our company is in the middle of a move to a larger data center with a lot more capacity. We’ll have shiny, new blade servers to deploy to. They’ll be running Linux, naturally.

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