Personally, I've found this to be somewhat of a non issue. Each OS has
its advantages and disadvantages.
I've found Solaris x86 to be more reliable. For example, I used to run
my web server on Solaris x86 and it ran 8 months without a crash. Under
Linux, it runs at most 6 weeks before needing a reboot. There are
various bugs in Linux in the kernel, nfsd, memory leaks, etc that caused
crashes. For our NOAAPORT system, Solaris x86 has been rock solid and
can run for months without a problem. I've also seen that Solaris x86
will run CPU and disk intensive applications much faster (10-20%) than
Linux. Then there is the issue over BUGS... Linux is notoriously buggy
which sends users scrambling for bug fixes. Even though these aren't
serious 95% of the time, its still frustrating. Solaris has its pluses
because of its stability and that little has changed in Solaris in the
last 5 years. Also, Solaris has much better 3rd party device support
especially in the areas of data acquisition. Many of these hardware
groups are just now starting to support Linux. So for server issues, I'd
probably pick Solaris x86 over Linux.
Then there is the other hand... Documentation for Solaris x86 is
virtually non-existent. If you are a Solaris guru, you're set.
Otherwise, you're stuck either with a $40 book from Borders or $1000
worth of CDs from Sun. Even then there is no guarantee these will
answer your question. I've yet to get a single question answered
through Sun's online Solaris knowledge base. Most of these are due to
the fact there is virtually no support for Intel version on Sun's web
site. I've hit many brick walls in the Solaris environment that I
couldn't extricate myself from without paying an arm and a leg. Linux's
online help (man pages) and web knowledge databases have come to the
rescue many times. The user environment for Linux is MUCH nicer than
Solaris. Solaris, CDE and other standard tools have changed little in
5-8 years and are showing their age. Linux GUI environment and tools
have kept up to date and are continuously adding new features. You
could get the source for many of these packages and compile them for
Solaris but this is time consuming. So for a user and development
environment, I really prefer Linux.
Then there is the issue over new hardware support. Solaris x86 seems to
lag 9-18 months behind the curve of support for new hardware. This
means you can't get the latest and greatest PCs from Dell, Gateway and
Compaq and think all the COTS hardware will be supported. We've often
found ourselves replacing newer hardware with older in order to get
Solaris x86 to support it. For example, we had conflicts recently with
networking and graphics cards which has sent us out looking for old 3COM
and Intel Ethernet cards and settling for 640x480 VGA mode for graphics.
Also, we've had a nasty problem with Solaris 7 not supporting hard
drives greater than 8GB. So we have a ton of users in the field who
need more disk space to support NOAAPORT and get a 20 GB drive and
finding Solaris will only partition 8GB of it.
So here... we use both. We use Solaris for mission critical/operation
systems that need the reliability. We use Linux for development and
quick deployment. We use Linux for the web environment because of the
tools that are bundled with the operating system such as X11R6/Xvfb and
As for interoperability, I've found that Linux is the closest to Solaris
of most Unix systems. Solaris went its own route about 5 years ago,
straying from the SysV route that IBM AIX, HPUX and others went. Linux
has thanks to GNU, tried to stay reasonably compatible with Solaris so
moving back and forth is not a big issue.
The bottom line is.... go with whatever you are familiar with. It may
be a religious issue. I know most universities have a long history of
support for Solaris and wish to continue that route. I know others
which have gone Linux due to its low cost and support.