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Open Source Operating Systems Oracle Sun Microsystems Unix

Illumos Sporks OpenSolaris 161

Posted by kdawson
from the may-grow-up-to-be-a-fork dept.
suraj.sun sends in this news from The Register. "If you were hoping that someone would fork the OpenSolaris operating system, you are going to have to settle for a spork. You know, half spoon and half fork. That, in essence, is what the Illumos, an alternative open source project to continue development on the core bits of OpenSolaris, is all about. ... Development on OpenSolaris has all but stopped, so Garrett D'Amore, a former Sun and Oracle software engineer who worked on Solaris for many years, decided to do something about it. ... What Illumos is doing is taking the core OpenSolaris kernel and foundation, which is called OS/Net or ON inside of the former Sun, and creating a repository and development community around that. ON includes the kernel, C libraries, shell and shell utilities, file systems, and networking functions of OpenSolaris. 'We are not a distribution in a normal sense,' says D'Amore. 'It is more of a code base.' And one that Nexenta, Belenix, and SchilliX, who do create alternative distros for OpenSolaris, can in theory base their future releases upon if they don't like what is — or isn't — coming out of OpenSolaris."
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Illumos Sporks OpenSolaris

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  • Missing sources? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Antony T Curtis (89990) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @02:29PM (#33128678) Homepage Journal

    Didn't the OpenSolaris effort have problems because they were always waiting on Sun to compile certain libc binaries for them?

    Is this resolved in Illumos or is there still a binary blob issue?

  • by captrb (1298149) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @02:29PM (#33128680)
    Zones, ZFS, and DTrace don't have equivalents in Linux with feature parity.
  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @02:32PM (#33128750)
    Unless I am confused, "Zones" are virtual machines. If you think there is no equivalent, I guess you are not familiar with Xen or KVM, or the dozens of other VMs out there. ZFS is available as a FUSE driver, and Linux already has attachable debugging, although perhaps not with "feature parity."
  • by Junta (36770) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @02:33PM (#33128772)

    lxc exists in linux as a Zones alternative.
    I don't know first hand, but some would say systemtap is on the level of DTrace.
    btrfs may eventually provide zfs parity (but not today, even if considered stable the featureset lags in some ways).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @02:34PM (#33128778)

    Don't forget Crossbow.

  • Re:Missing sources? (Score:5, Informative)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @02:35PM (#33128802) Homepage

    Didn't the OpenSolaris effort have problems because they were always waiting on Sun to compile certain libc binaries for them?

    Is this resolved in Illumos or is there still a binary blob issue?

    Apparently, it isn't. From TFA ...

    The biggest problem is that an important minority of the code distributed with OpenSolaris is closed source, something that has annoyed the OpenSolaris community for five years. Sun didn't allocate resources to fix this and neither has Oracle.

    D'Amore says that a significant percentage of the libc C library (libc_i18n to be precise) is closed, as is the NFS lock manager, portions of the kernel's cryptographic framework and functions, and a bunch of important drives.

    So, no, the closed stuff still needs to be written and they don't have it.

  • by ToasterMonkey (467067) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @02:43PM (#33128940) Homepage

    Unless I am confused, "Zones" are virtual machines.

    This is easy, you clearly are.

    If you think there is no equivalent, I guess you are not familiar with Xen or KVM

    Yah, we've heard of that too. http://prefetch.net/blog/index.php/category/solaris-xen/ [prefetch.net]

    although perhaps not with "feature parity."

    Exactly.

  • by berashith (222128) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @02:54PM (#33129134)

    one kernel shared amongst the zones, not VMs populated with independent OSes. The zones can "loopback" filesystems, so /usr is only created once . Each zone has independent configs for users and such, and is visible as files from the global OS. VMs dont have a global OS, they just sit on a hypervisor.

    this is the first 5 seconds of differences. The biggest thing to note is they are nothing alike.

  • by kg8484 (1755554) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @02:55PM (#33129146)

    Wikipedia has a decent article [wikipedia.org] on the subject.

    [A] zone does not have its own separate kernel (in contrast to a hardware virtual machine)

  • by Massacrifice (249974) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @03:01PM (#33129242)

    explain to me and people like me how "Zones" are different from "virtual machines?"

    Zones share the same kernel. Much, much less overhead than full-blown VMs, both in setup and resource use. You can flavor your zones to be Linux or BSD compatible. You can give them their own (virtual or physical) network adapters. Think Apache Virtual Hosts, but at the OS layer. Or a midaway cross between a chroot and a VM. It's really nice stuff.

  • by nathanh (1214) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @03:10PM (#33129382) Homepage

    Unless I am confused, "Zones" are virtual machines. If you think there is no equivalent, I guess you are not familiar with Xen or KVM, or the dozens of other VMs out there.

    Yes, you are confused, which probably indicates your lack of familiarity with Solaris Zones.

    Xen, KVM, VMware, Sun Logical Domains, and Sun Virtualbox, are all examples of hardware virtualisation. They simulate a hardware platform; a virtual machine. Each VM has its own kernel and scheduler and memory space and device drivers and virtualised storage.

    Solaris Zones is an example of operating system virtualisation. There is no direct equivalent on Linux. There is a single kernel for all the zones. A single set of device drivers. A single process tree. Potentially a single storage system. It's extremely lightweight compared to virtual machines.

    Thinking of Zones as "virtual machines" is simply wrong. They are more like process groups, or process sets, and in fact on Solaris they are implemented in part by using resource groups. There is virtualisation but it's not at the machine layer; that's why they're not virtual machines.

    To illustrate the significant differences, on the same hardware that Xen can run 10 VMs, Solaris can run 100s of zones. Xen can lose 10% or more CPU to overheads, Solaris Zones loses less than 1%. Xen can lose as much as 90% of I/O performance, Solaris Zones loses less than 1%. Xen places restrictions on the resources available to each VM, Solaris Zones can gain access to the full resources of the hardware. Xen requires each VM to be patched and maintained separately, Solaris Zones are patched and maintained through the "host" OS.

    These benefits are only possible because Solaris Zones are not VMs.

  • by nathanh (1214) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @03:31PM (#33129682) Homepage

    OpenVZ and FreeBSD Jails are equivalent conceptually to Solaris Containers. The difference is the extent to which they've been implemented. Sun went the whole hog and made Solaris Containers "first class citizens". All the user space tools were modified to understand zones. All the documentation was updated. All the application suites were updated. They're not a ill-supported second-rate tack-on so you can tick the "we've got that" feature box.

    If you want the analogy, it's like Microsoft saying "don't use Apache, we've got a webserver too" and pointing to IIS. In theory, true. In practise, bullshit.

  • by jschmitz (607083) <jeff.g.schmitz@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @03:32PM (#33129696) Homepage
    OpenSolaris has DTrace, ZFS, Zones........While Linux' hardware support is wider than that of OpenSolaris, the latter does benefit from having a static driver interface. Where in Linux hardware support might actually break as time goes by, 10 year old Solaris drivers will still work today. There's also a Device Detection Tool which will tell you if your hardware is compatible with OpenSolaris. However the number of applications to choose form is quite limited compared to what Linux distributions generally have to offer. DTrace is really cool you can learn more about it here http://www.brendangregg.com/dtrace.html [brendangregg.com] Cheers - Jeffery
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:48PM (#33130896)

    Would you perhaps like to explain to me and people like me how "Zones" are different from "virtual machines?"

    Zones have 1% overhead:

                    http://blogs.sun.com/bmseer/entry/virtually_no_overhead_solaris_zones

    Virtual machines (specifically VMware) can have 36% overhead:

                    http://blogs.sun.com/BestPerf/entry/sun_x4270_virtualized_for_two

    Zones are super-charged FreeBSD jails (they're explicitly mentioned as a source of inspiration). They add the ability to mount /usr and other file systems (and even raw disk devices) as R/O so that you only have to keep one OS image patched (though you can optionally have an independent /usr et al.).

    Recent improvements include Project Crossbow:

                  http://hub.opensolaris.org/bin/view/Project+crossbow/WebHome
                  http://www.cuddletech.com/blog/pivot/entry.php?id=999

    Solaris also runs just fine in VMware and Xen if you want to use that. You can actually have a Solaris VM on ESX, and then create zones in that VM. Zones work the same whether under x86 or SPARC.

    Add Solaris Cluster, and you can also have fail over services or even entire zones from one physical machine to another.

  • Re:Missing sources? (Score:5, Informative)

    by anilg (961244) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @05:06PM (#33131126)

    (I'm in the project leadership team of Illumos)

    We've opened the closed bits of libc - specifically the i18n portion of it.

    What's still closed (and soon to be opened) is some additional drivers (mpt, etc) that are almost prepared to be released. All of the closed bits would be open in a short timeframe (weeks).

    What you've quoted Garrett saying is in reference to OpenSolaris's code. That is followed by the announcement that we've opened it.

    ~Anil

  • by anilg (961244) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @05:07PM (#33131154)

    The most important bit (libc_i18n) is opened. The rest is in the process, and will be pushed into the repo in very short time.

  • by anilg (961244) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @05:09PM (#33131172)

    The referenced OpenSolaris is not the code, but the distribution OpenSolaris (formerly project Indiana).

  • by anilg (961244) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @05:10PM (#33131194)

    I'm one of the NCP guys, and currently at Debconf. I'm hoping to engage the community about this. We'll have updates posted to the project on where NCP4 is headed soon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @05:30PM (#33131472)

    Zones share the same kernel. Much, much less overhead than full-blown VMs, both in setup and resource use.

    This used to be true, but thanks to market pressure, VMs are competitive in the resource and overhead areas. For example, with kernel same-page merging it's possible to run multiple VMs and overcommit memory usage with relative transparency. Now that processors have virtualization extensions (and have for several years) the expensive operations (from a CPU standpoint) are now cheap. The benefit of VMs, IMHO, is that no substantive changes are needed on the OS or toolset. Zones are great, no doubt, and some of the technology will get merged or copied into VMs, but it appears that the market is leaning towards virtualization.

  • by beardz (790974) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @05:56PM (#33131742)
    FreeBSD jails are certainly no longer ill-supported second-rate tack-ons. Care for virtualised network stacks per Zone? ;)
  • by eknagy (1056622) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @01:59AM (#33134888)

    Linux VServer is very similar (one kernel, multiple contexts, shared memory, optionally shared or dedicated filesystems, optionally shared or dedicated network interfaces, minimal overhead). Debian has vserver enabled kernels in the repository - not sure about other distributions, because I don't really care ;)
    I am running a dozen of less important and/or discountinued and/or shitty services in these vservers and I just love them.
    The funny thing is that you can run KVM and Vserver on the same server (and maybe even Xen ;), putting other OSes and nasty stuff into full virtualization and performance-hungry tasks to Vservers.

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