Well, I’m a Slowlaris administrator now

Let me run down <strike>my list of qualifications</strike> what I know about Solaris.1. They call it "Slowlaris" because it initially wasn’t as fast on the same hardware as its predecessor, SunOS.
2. I don’t know if Slowlaris 9 is faster than older versions of Slowlaris, so I don’t know if this counts as something I know about it.
3. Slowlaris is based on System V Unix. SunOS was based on BSD.
4. Slowlaris runs primarily on proprietary hardware from Sun, based on a CPU architecture called SPARC. A handful of Sun clones exist, but I think Fujitsu is the only big third-party manufacturer.
5. There is an x86 version of Slowlaris. Sun keeps going back and forth on whether to continue making it or not, since they don’t make much money off it. It’s being made now. Professional Slowlaris admins argue that its availability makes it easier for up-and-coming admins to learn the OS without buying expensive Sun hardware–they can run it on their six-month old computer that’s too slow to run Doom 3.
6. "Sun" was originally an acronym for "Stanford University Network."

So most of what I know about Slowlaris is either trivia, or holdover generic Unix know-how. But I told my boss since it’s System V, I should be able to adjust to it almost as easily as I could adjust to a Linux distribution from someone other than Debian. I’ll just be typing –help and grepping around in /etc even more than usual.

Yep, it’s been that kind of <strike>week</strike> month.

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4 thoughts on “Well, I’m a Slowlaris administrator now

  • March 25, 2004 at 7:52 pm

    Well, I may not be of much help, but I can at least share my own (limited) Sun experience, albeit on much older hardware. Note that I am in no way employed in IT or any high-tech job.

    * If you are at least competent with regular (x86) hardware, than the transition to Sun should be only a small step, mainly learning different jargon

    * I’m not sure if "–help" will work in Solaris. Grep, of course, is good old-fashioned *NIX.

    * Try reading both the general comp.sys.sun.* FAQ and the Solaris 2.x FAQ:


    * Sun’s corporate website is a good source of info once you find it.

    * If all else fails, shake your head and spout out random Sun ramblings, such as "frame buffer", "Motif", and "CDE", and blame Microsoft for being anti-competitive when things go bad. 😉

    You’ll find Solaris awfully spartan compared to basically any flavor of Linux. I have an old Sun SPARCstation 5 (1994) pizza-box workstation that I bought off eBay just for kicks, and it works okay, I guess. It has a 17" frame buffer monitor that is slightly defective (bluish-looking display) but otherwise works fine. I installed Solaris 2.6 onto it with an old 1x Sun CD-ROM drive.

    You’ll probably be working with actual servers instead of a desktop workstation, so I’m not of much help there. All in all, most people not from the old-guard UNIX world will prefer to use Linux, but Solaris *is* very stable, if nothing else.

  • March 26, 2004 at 7:34 am

    I didn`t know “Sun” came from “Stanford U. network”, so you`re ahead of me.

    The unix rosetta stone might be helpful.

    You and I are but earth.

  • March 26, 2004 at 8:33 am

    Been there, done that, got the embroidered polo shirt 😉 If you’re gonna be messin’ with Sun hardware & Solaris, then the SunSolve website is your friend…

  • March 26, 2004 at 5:49 pm

    Lucky you! Anything is better than administrating those lousy
    Win Server boxes!

    I adminster two Sun Servers and two Windows Servers at work
    (all 4 see heavy work). My Sun servers have always reached
    over 300 days uptime. My Windows boxes have a variable
    uptime figures, decided by Microsoft (when they release their
    latest patch which always means reboot).

    Guess what? Solaris will probably manage to frustrate you and
    so on but believe me, the problems you will be dealing with will
    make you feel like a real admin. I mean, how much fun is
    downloading patches, rebooting and worrying about scanning
    for viruses with the latest AV patches? Or having to kill NT
    processes that hang on for dear life and when you try to kill
    them, NT tells you you don’t have the right to (despite being
    logged in as an admin)?

    Sun and Solaris tips: If you buy an older SparcStation machine
    for fooling around with, try to get a SparcStation20 with dual
    75MHz processors. Those are sweet considering their age! Sun
    Solaris 2.6 on them. You won’t gain much by going to 9 (they will
    even be a bit slower). If you want to try the Ultrasparcs out then
    go for an Ultra 5. They are cheap and pretty much a PC with an
    UltraSparc processor (64 bit). I got one at home and it runs
    Solaris 9 and Linux beautifully. They are also robust and
    extremely well built (compared to most PC’s). You should be able
    to find them real cheap second hand in the U.S. (like on E-Bay).

    SPARC is not so much an architecture. It is more a specification.
    Fujitsu Siemens make their own SPARC processors that don’t
    have so much in common with their Sun (Texas Instruments
    built) CPU’s. They are binary compatible, but their speeds,
    amount of cache etc is different. We got those at work
    (multi-cpu’s) and they are brutal workhorses.

    Solaris can be a bit of a pain if you are coming from Linux. It just
    doesn’t feel smooth and easy like Linux does, but it is more
    robust in my opinion. You will get my meaning once you start
    working with it.

    Sun is actually working hard on expaning their Solaris precence
    on x86 hardware in order to compete with Linux. My opinion
    though is to try to find an Ultra5 or so instead if you want to
    mess with it at home.

    Oh, and if you want to read more about the hardware that Sun
    makes, go to http://www.sun.com. They have excellent documentation
    with pictures of all their hardware! The quality of their
    documentation is way better than what you are used to seeing
    from makes of x86 machines.

    A few useful links…


    Good luck!

    /David T.

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