Chapter 1: Introduction to Solaris
This book is about the Solaris operating environment, developed and distributed by Sun Microsystems. In Part I, we will give the reader all the information required to install and configure a Solaris sYstem. In this chapter, we will briefly cover the history of the Solaris operating system and the distinguishing features of Sun SPaRC (Scalable Processor architecture) hardware, and we will highlight the improvements introduced with the latest release (Solaris 8).
In addition, we will introduce the common features that Solaris shares with other network operating systems, such as Transmission Control Protocol /Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) networking, and highlight key advantages over its competitors, such as multiuser logins, multiprocessing, and lightweight processes. We also provide a comprehensive review of resources on the Internet, such as the World Wide Web (WWW), File Transfer Program (FTP), and USENET, which can be useful complements to professional support services.
Solaris is an enterprise-level operating environment that encompasses the multiprocess, multiuser Sun Operating System (SunOS). It is a network operating system that runs on Intel-based PC systems, as well as systems built around the SPaRC CPU architecture. These systems can have up to 64 CPUs operating concurrently in the E10000 server system. Thus, when administrators speak of Sun, they could be referring to SPaRC-based computer systems, or the Solaris operating environment.
as an experienced administrator of Linux and/or Microsoft Windows, you might be wondering what Solaris can do, where it came from, and why you should (or shouldn't) use it. Some administratorsmay be concerned about the use of proprietary hardware or the often-reported statistic that 80 percent of the world's computers run a Microsoft operating system. Since the average Solaris system can support Graphical User Interface (GUI) logins for hundreds of users, making comparisons with single-user operating systems, such as some versions of Microsoft Windows, is quite meaningless. Different scenarios may well justify the expense of purchasing an E10000 in some organizations; but if you just need domain support and/or centralized file system management, then Microsoft Windows might be more appropriate.
Solaris is the dominant UNIX-like operating system on the market today. Sun's systems are the hardware of choice for high-availability applications, such as database systems, Web servers, and computationally intensive tasks such as modeling and simulation. These systems are widely deployed in commercial and research and development (R&D) organizations. They also integrate well into heterogeneous networks composed of Linux and Microsoft Windows systems, particularly as reliable fileservers.
For example, Linux clients are supported by the Network File System (NFS) and the Network Information Service (NIS), while Microsoft Windows clients are supported with Session Message Block (SMB) networking and Samba-based primary domain control. Since Solaris operates largely on a client/server model, clients from multiple operating systems are usually supported.
Sun recently released Solaris 8, which is the latest in a long line of releases that have delivered increased functionality and reliability at each stage. Recent innovations in Solaris include support for 64-bit kernels; high-availability full moon clustering; and the adoption of the Common Desktop Environment (CDE), which is the standard X11-based desktop deployed by most UNIX vendors in recent years.
Solaris and Other Operating Systems
You may be wondering at this point exactly how different Solaris is to your existing operating system. If you're from a Microsoft Windows background, you're probably used to a GUI desktop like the one shown in Figure 1-1. You'll be pleased to know that the CDE desktop, shown in Figure 1-2, has many similar features, including icons, workspaces, menus, and tool tips. Just like Microsoft Windows, all of these features can be customized to an individual user's preferences, or they can be mandated sitewide if there is an organization policy governing the appearance of desktops.
If you're a Microsoft Windows administrator, you no doubt write batch files that can be executed at various intervals using the at command. a sample batch file and command prompt interface is shown in Figure 1-3. Here, commands may be issued interactively, such as the command for a directory listing, dir. Similarly, when a user shell is spawned by the initialization of a CDE terminal window, various commands can be issued on the command line, which are then interpreted by a command interpreter, as shown in Figure 1-4.
although these examples may seem trivial, they illustrate a very important point: a lot of operating systems share a set of core features that are differentiated by presentation but not necessarily in functionality. For example, Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Solaris are all process-based operating systems: that is, independent activities can be carried out in discrete processes, which can be managed by process tools. Processes can be prioritized, stopped, or started by using a GUI interface or command-line tools.
Some of the major differences between UNIX and UNIX-like platforms, and the Microsoft platforms can be traced back to the early days of multiuser, multiprocess systems...