[OpenIndiana-discuss] Help with website

Richard L. Hamilton rlhamil at smart.net
Mon Oct 10 21:49:56 UTC 2011

On Oct 10, 2011, at 5:32 PM, Dan Swartzendruber wrote:

> A couple of thoughts: OSX is a dreadful wrong example.  If you polled 1
> million Mac users and asked them 'what OS runs under the hood?', my guess is
> 95% would have no idea what you are talking about.  Secondly, throwing vague
> statements out about the 'shortcomings of linux' is at best non-helpful, and
> at worst discredits you.  I am a Software Engineer, and it irks me to no end
> to have to retain N different tool/command sets in my memory for no good
> reason.  Whether you like it or not, Linux (and to a lesser extent, the
> various BSD dialects) are what most folks know and are comfortable with.
> Presenting them with yet another flavor of Unix, with a command/tool set
> that is too distant is going to result in the person walking away and
> settling for redhat/ubuntu/debian or whatever.  I kind of hinted at this in
> an earlier post - if I didn't have to use OI or some flavor of OS to get ZFS
> for my SAN, I would have gone elsewhere like a shot.  BSD and Linux are
> pretty close when most of the commands are considered - OS is much less so,
> and that is what is going to relegate it to a niche system unless something
> changes.  And no, I'm not an opposing fanboy or basher, just a realist…

Does it _matter_ if users know what runs under the hood?  OS X is pretty good, but the Solaris kernel is more reliable.  If other things are somewhere near comparable, I might not care if I could spout the lineage of the kernel as long as the OS was reliable and somewhere near competitive on features or whatever.  Any argument like that against Solaris would only hold if one wanted to run it on hardware obtained by dumpster-diving.  On a reasonable subset of modern hardware, it's simply likely to cause less mystery headaches than most alternatives (arguably including Linux).  On a properly configured server or appliance or VM, there's no comparison.  I've seen Solaris and Linux VMs, no hardware issues there, but between OOM killers and other non-deterministic behavior on Linux (like even keeping ntpd alive!), there's no comparison.

The toolset has been converging, with a number of commands picking up those GNU options that weren't inconsistent with what was already present; and the GNU versions can trivially be made available somewhere other than /usr/bin.  All it takes is an account creation tool that makes it easy to set up a new account with the appropriate PATH, and maybe a defaults file for that tool so that a site can make their own choice of what the default should be, leaving individual users the option to differ, if they wish to bear the burden of perhaps less familiarity by the local help desk.  And that could be pushed back one step further, making the setting of those defaults an installation-time option, something perhaps as simple as installing an optional package that provides some additional customization.

Some of the GNU tools are better (gawk vs nawk is my usual example); some are worse (get Jeorg Schilling to tell you how much worse GNU tar is).  Choosing the GNU tools for familiarity's sake _might_ (although I don't agree) be a valid argument if it had to be either-or.  But it's not hard to make it both-and…probably easier than arguing about it.

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