Comparing experience with AIX, HP-UX, and Solaris

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# 1  
Old 05-23-2011
Comparing experience with AIX, HP-UX, and Solaris

I'm investigating AIX/HP-UX/Solaris for use in a research environment. Although there is plenty of technical documentation online, some important questions can only be answered from long user experience. I'd like to hear whatever you can contribute if you can compare at least two of these.

To get more specific, the proposed deployment is workstations for lab work. I suppose this case is quite different from server use. On the workstations, there will be no commercial software other than the OS; most of it will be data analysis tools written by subject specialists. Instead of setting up one machine to run unchanged for a long time, the workstations will have frequent changes of configuration by users of varying levels of skill.

I have four main areas of concern about which I'd like to hear your comparative evaluation of the three platforms:

1. Ease of building software developed on other *nix platforms.
Most of the tools we install would be only available as source code. So a major convenience factor will be how much effort is required to get things to build properly on a particular platform. I suppose the two main factors to consider are how "standard" the Unix flavor is and availability of debugging tools.

2. Stability against application crashing.
The workstations will be used for long computation and compilation jobs as well as productivity tasks. It is very important that a crashing app hangs nothing more than itself.

3. Convenience and stability of OS level virtualization
Virtualization is I suppose the strongest strategy for isolating a process. It should be quick to set up, be lightweight and stable, and completely prevent unwanted interaction with the host OS.

4. Ease of maintenance.
When things go wrong (buggy app, bad driver, stupid user, etc.), how much effort to pinpoint the problem and find/implement a fix? I'm thinking of the combined effects of opacity of the system, quality of documentation, community help, etc.

Any other points of comparison between AIX, HP-UX, and Solaris I'd be glad to hear also.

# 2  
Old 05-24-2011
I don't have much experience with AIX or HP-UX, but Solaris seems very good choice for those requirements.

1. If you will go with Solaris 11 Express, then standard Solaris development tools like Sun Studio are available, as well as GNU tools (gcc, gmake etc). Dtrace is great for debugging misbehaving applications, but it requires some time to learn.

2. I think any of those three systems pass this requirement.

3. Read about Solaris zones. It has all the features you are talking about.

4. Dtrace is the answer for pinpointing the problems. As for documentation former can be found under: Oracle Secure Enterprise Search which is amazing Solaris docs collection. Solaris 10 and 11 documentation collections can also be found here: Oracle Solaris 10 9/10 Release Oracle Solaris 11 Express Information Library 2010.11 Release. Great community help regarding Solaris can be found here.

One more thing that you should consider is ease of running the system on workstation hardware. Solaris can be easily installed and used on regular consumer level x86 PCs, while AIX and HP-UX are restricted to POWER and IA-64. I guess you won't find many workstations running this kind of processors Smilie
# 3  
Old 05-24-2011

You dont mention anything about the platforms that this *nix is going to be running on. In my view there are other factors that contribute to the final selection.....

Are you using specific hardware? ..... Some flavours of Unix are more "Portable" than others and would lend themselves to workstation use alot better depending on the hardware / use requiremetns. When you say "varying levels of skill" are your colleagues biased towards a particular flavour - the learning curve from one particular unix to another (while they may be similar) is not always a smooth one.

Is there going to be a cost involvement? I believe HP-UX / AIX are still commercial products and will need to be purchased. Solaris is (legacy) designed for the Sparc family of processors and so will run only on specific hardware (cost?) - while there are open source versions of Solaris now - you have to ask what benefits you gain from using it, rather than going for Linux etc.
# 4  
Old 05-24-2011
Solaris runs natively on x86 since few years now (starting from Solaris 10).
# 5  
Old 05-24-2011
Originally Posted by bartus11
Solaris runs natively on x86 since few years now (starting from Solaris 10).
x86 support didn't start with Solaris 10, the first non preliminary release, Solaris 2.1, was already running on x86 hardware in 1993.
This User Gave Thanks to jlliagre For This Post:
# 6  
Old 05-24-2011
Originally Posted by jlliagre
x86 support didn't start with Solaris 10, the first non preliminary release, Solaris 2.1, was already running on x86 hardware in 1993.
Learning every day Smilie
# 7  
Old 05-24-2011
Originally Posted by bartus11
Solaris runs natively on x86 since few years now (starting from Solaris 10).
i know it runs on x86 - and has done since way before solaris 10 Smilie

my comment was aimed at sparc requiring specific hardware, hence (legacy) comment and the fact that the intel version "solaris express" now open source & branching away from "Oracle Solaris" is in a similar league to linux anyway.

was just trying to get a handle on hardware / costs / uses etc.... not knocking any of the choices.
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