Solaris vs Linux: A Comparative Study

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    The main difference between Linux and Solaris is simple: Linux is free and open-source, while Solaris is a proprietary Unix operating system. But what does that mean?

    With Linux, you have the freedom to access, modify, and share the code as you like. However, with Solaris, that’s not possible because it’s owned and controlled by Oracle (originally Sun Microsystems).

    Well, that’s just scratching the surface. There are plenty more differences between Linux and Solaris. But don’t worry. We will delve into those differences in this article. But before we discuss each of them in detail, let’s just quickly summarize the differences between them.

    Solaris vs Linux: Comparison Table

    Feature Linux Solaris
    Cost Free and open-source Purchased and licensed under Oracle
    Market Share (as of April 2024) 19.4% (32.9% growth) 3.4% (7.6% decrease)
    Future Orientation Low TCO (total cost of ownership), high flexibility, scalability, and reliability make it future-oriented. Less future-oriented due to higher costs and limited flexibility.
    Popularity Highly popular; runs on almost any machine, low TCO, supported by all major cloud providers (GCP, AWS, Azure). Less popular, more niche usage.
    Accessibility Platform-independent, accessible on various hardware architectures. It is limited to certain platforms.
    Development Language Developed using C language. Developed using both C and C++ languages.
    Initial Release Designed and released in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. Initially developed by Sun Microsystems, first released in 1992.
    Platform Support Platform-independent, available on various platforms. Not accessible on all platforms but available for several architectures.
    Support Provider Mainly supported by Red Hat. Supported by Oracle.
    Use Cases Used for mobile phones and embedded devices. Used for service management.
    Throughput Decent throughput. Excellent throughput.
    Stability Provides less stability compared to Solaris. It provides high stability.
    Distributions Various distributions available according to use. No such distributions.
    Administrative Capabilities Strong administrative capabilities. Excellent administrative capabilities, easy installation, and administration.


    Understanding the Linux Operating System

    Like Windows or macOS, Linux is an operating system. But here’s the thing—it’s open-source, which means the source code is available for anyone to see, modify, and distribute.

    Linux is built around the Linux kernel, which was created by Linus Torvalds back in 1991. Initially, it was developed to run on PCs. However, its popularity has substantially improved over time.

    Today, you can find Linux running on all sorts of devices. Yes, from servers and supercomputers to smartphones and embedded systems, it’s everywhere.

    In fact, it’s estimated that Linux runs on over 90% of the world’s top supercomputers and around 2.76% of desktop computers worldwide.

    Key Components of Linux

    Linux is made up of several key parts that work together to give you a smooth computing experience. Let’s take a closer look at these parts:

    First, there’s the bootloader. It manages the computer’s startup process and usually shows a quick welcome screen before the operating system loads.

    Next, we have the kernel, the core of the Linux operating system. Without the kernel, the OS can’t work. It manages system resources, communicates with hardware, and handles crucial tasks like managing memory, processes, and files.

    Daemons are another key part of Linux. They start during the system launch or after logging in. They manage tasks like printing, managing sound, and scheduling. As a whole, they improve the operating system’s functionality.

    Next is the init system. It controls daemons and starts the user space. A popular init system is systemd (though it’s controversial in the Linux community). The init system takes over after the bootloader (like GRUB) finishes the initial booting.

    Linux provides various applications for various tasks, from desktop utilities to business suites. Most distributions have a central repository for downloading apps. Like Windows and macOS, Linux offers many high-quality software titles that are easy to install. Many distributions also have App Store-like tools, such as Ubuntu’s Software Center, for easy application searches and installations.

    The desktop environment is the part of Linux that users interact with. There are many options like GNOME, Cinnamon, Mate, Pantheon, Enlightenment, KDE, and Xfce. Each one includes applications like file managers, configuration tools, web browsers, and games. Users can choose the one that fits their preferences for a personalized experience.

    The graphical server, known as the X server or X, displays graphics on the monitor and allows users to interact with the operating system’s visual parts.


    So, why choose Linux? Here are a few big reasons:

    • Customization: With Linux, you have the freedom to tweak and customize your operating system to your heart’s content.
    • Security: Linux is known for being super secure. Its open-source nature means vulnerabilities are caught and fixed quickly.
    • Stability: Linux systems are rock-solid and can run for long periods without needing a reboot.
    • Cost: Most Linux distros are free to download and use, which is a big plus for your wallet.


    • If you’re used to Windows or macOS, Linux can take some time to get used to.
    • Some popular software, like Microsoft Office or Adobe Creative Suite, doesn’t have Linux versions.
    • While Linux supports a wide range of hardware, you might run into issues with some newer or more obscure devices.
    • Linux has made great strides in gaming, but it still lags behind Windows in terms of game selection and performance.

    Solaris Operating System Explained

    Solaris is a Unix-like OS developed initially by Sun Microsystems and later acquired by Oracle. Post-acquisition, Oracle discontinued the Open Solaris distribution, transforming Solaris 11 back into a proprietary, closed-source OS in August 2010.

    The roots of Solaris trace back to 1982 with the release of SunOS. Then, in 1993 it succeeded SunOS. Over time, Solaris gained popularity due to its robust features and scalability. However, its journey saw a significant shift when Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems.

    Sun Microsystems played a pivotal role in developing the platform-independent programming language Java and the Java runtime environment (JRE). Thus, Solaris systems inherently come with a Java virtual machine (JVM) and the Java Development Kit (JDK).

    Sun’s Extensions for Solaris OS

    Sun provided three specific extensions for its Solaris OS:

    • Easy Access Server: Designed to operate in networks including Windows NT systems.
    • Enterprise Server: Primarily for business-oriented environments, supporting clustering.
    • Internet Service Provider Server: Tailored for ISP environments.

    Structure of the Solaris Operating System

    The core supports the entire system. The kernel represents the core and is the central part of the Solaris OS. It manages system resources and hardware-software interactions.

    On the exterior, the shell acts as an instruction interpreter, providing a user interface to access the operating system. The interaction between the kernel and the shell facilitates smooth operations. It ensures that users can efficiently execute commands and manage processes.

    Applications of Solaris

    Solaris proves its versatility and strength in many business areas:

    1. Enterprise Computing
    Solaris is common in big data centers and high-performance environments. It scales well, is secure, and handles heavy workloads. This makes it a good choice for executing critical tasks.

    2. Cloud Computing
    Solaris excels at running virtual machines and cloud apps. Its advanced virtualization lets you run multiple operating systems and applications on a single server.

    3. Networking
    With features like IPsec, IPv6, and multicast routing, Solaris is great for networking. It also offers tools for managing and monitoring networks.

    4. High-Performance Computing
    In scientific research, Solaris stands out for handling big datasets and complex computations efficiently.

    5. Financial Services
    Many trading systems and risk management platforms use Solaris. Its reliability is crucial for financial services.

    6. Telecommunications
    Solaris is also key in telecommunications, powering mobile networks and call centers.

    Advantages of Solaris Operating System

    Solaris offers several notable advantages:

    • Scalability
      Solaris is highly scalable. Yes, it can run on multiple devices, from small systems to extensive enterprise environments. This scalability ensures that as your user base grows.
    • Portability
      Its application binary interface (ABI) allows software to execute on any OS with a matching microprocessor architecture. Consequently, there is a reduction in software development costs and acceleration in product market entry.
    • Advanced File System Support
      Solaris’s ZFS file system offers unparalleled data protection and management capabilities. It includes features like data deduplication, compression, and snapshots, ensuring data integrity and efficient storage management.
    • Robust Security Features
      Security is a cornerstone of Solaris. It includes advanced security mechanisms like process and user rights management. This ensures that critical data and processes are well protected from unauthorized access and potential threats.
    • Reliability and Stability
      Solaris is renowned for its reliability and stability, essential for environments where uptime is critical. Its robust architecture ensures consistent performance and minimal downtime.

    Disadvantages of Solaris Operating System

    Despite its strengths, Solaris has certain disadvantages:

    • Often Running on Vintage Hardware
      During its initial days, Solaris was a highly differentiated platform ideal for many mission-critical use cases. But today, old hardware, often run on Solaris applications, leads to critical challenges. One alarming challenge is the extremely high total cost of ownership of the old hardware that runs these applications. And that’s just one of the challenges – there’s more!
    • Limited Community Support
      Unlike Linux, Solaris has a smaller user community, which can limit access to community-driven support and resources. This can pose challenges when troubleshooting issues or seeking advice from other users.
    • Proprietary Nature
      Since Oracle’s acquisition, Solaris has reverted to a proprietary, closed-source model. This limits the customization and flexibility that open-source alternatives like Linux offer. Additionally, updates and patches are controlled by Oracle. It leads to a dependency on vendor support.
    • Higher Costs
      Implementing and maintaining Solaris can be costlier than using open-source alternatives. Licensing fees, along with potential hardware compatibility investments, can add to the overall expense.

    Solaris vs Linux: Key Differences Between Solaris and Linux

    When comparing Solaris OS vs Linux, it is essential to consider factors such as system performance, scalability, administrative capabilities, and others. But before heading towards that, let’s start with their market share.

    OS for business


    Well, now that you have an idea about their popularity, it’s time to understand the key differences between Sun Solaris and Linux.

    Platform Availability: Linux is flexible; it can run on multiple platforms. In short, it is platform-independent. In contrast, Solaris is not as flexible as Linux. It does not fit into all the platforms.

    Use Cases: As discussed above, Linux is more flexible and adaptable. Thus, it is most often used in mobile phones and embedded devices. Solaris, on the other hand, is widely used in service management because it is very stable and has high administration performance.

    Administrative Capabilities: Linux has good administrative capabilities. But Solaris is not just good—it’s excellent. Solaris systems are easy to install and administer.

    Development Languages: Linux’s main development language is C. In contrast, Solaris has been developed using C and C++.

    Stability: Solaris excels here. It comes with better stability than Linux.

    Throughput: Linux provides decent throughput from the device. However, Solaris shines in terms of high throughput.

    Cost and Licensing: Linux is free and open-source. So, it can be modified and distributed without any licensing costs. However, Solaris became a licensed product after Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems. You must buy a license to run the Operating System once the 3-month free trial is over.

    Distribution Variability: Linux has many distributions developed for different purposes. Conversely, Solaris does not support a variety of distributions.

    Support: Linux primarily relies on Red Hat for support, while Solaris support is exclusively provided by Oracle.

    Should You Consider Migrating Solaris Applications in 2024?

    Look, businesses still use Solaris applications, and there are reasons for this. Remember one thing: vintage applications are not the problem – vintage infrastructure is.

    So, if your Solaris applications are running on vintage hardware – you should consider migration. Why? Let us uncover that…

    Running old hardware is a losing proposition for IT operations. It is difficult and expensive, and simply finding replacement parts can be frustrating.

    Reliability is also an issue. Not only does older hardware fail more often, but finding staff who can provide up-to-date support and quickly solve problems becomes tougher every year.

    Both vendors and customers run into this expertise problem because young engineers do not want to focus on learning the nuances of hardware that is two or three generations past obsolescence.

    Vintage hardware can also have obsolete or out-of-date interconnect functionality or require special switches, a cable plant, or power. This increases the complexity of data center operations. For example, it might demand front-to-back cooling in the rack while the rest of the data center uses more efficient bottom-to-top airflow. This can result in inefficient use of space in the data center.

    All these costs and the operational problems associated with vintage hardware are daunting, but the good news is that the hardware (not the vintage applications) causes all the headaches. Separating the software from the hardware can help identify a better path forward.

    The Solution: Moving Vintage Applications to Modern Cloud Infrastructure with Stromasys

    With Stromasys, organizations can seamlessly move Solaris applications to the cloud and get out of the business of running obsolete hardware. The migration can be completed with no interruptions to business operations because it is a fast lift-and-shift strategy made simple thanks to our platform. This is an excellent way to eliminate the problems of vintage hardware while retaining its value in Solaris applications.

    The business value and TCO are compelling, and the Stromasys offer complies with Solaris contract language, so moving applications to the cloud has no repercussions.

    Another important benefit organizations gain by moving legacy applications to a cloud service and off vintage hardware is eliminating the need to support an exceptional environment in the data center. This is very compelling, delivering improvements in costs, staffing, and operations.

    Further, the improved scalability of the workloads using the cloud improves service levels and reduces costs.Furthermore, moving Solaris applications to the cloud delivers other benefits for IT teams:

    • Firstly, it immediately reduces a source of technical debt that has been resistant to remediation.
    • Secondly, it enables IT to implement infrastructure strategies across the entire IT estate without exception.
    • Finally, it allows for a single, consistent physical infrastructure in the data center, with no outliers.

    Final Takeaway

    At this point, we have clarified the differences between Linux and Solaris operating systems. Linux is more popular due to its flexibility, whereas Solaris is known for high-end computing.

    We have also proposed a solution for businesses still relying on outdated hardware for running legacy applications.

    So, are you struggling with obsolete hardware? Talk to our experts and prolong the life of your Solaris applications by eliminating the risk of failing hardware


    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. Is Solaris better than Linux?

    Yes. Solaris OS vs Linux is a subjective question. It depends on your requirements. If you are evaluating based on cost, Linux is an open-source OS, while Solaris is a licensed product. So, it’s no surprise that Solaris is more expensive.

    Solaris is ideal for enterprises running mission-critical applications because it handles higher workloads efficiently.

    On the other hand, Linux is known for its versatility and frequent updates, making it popular among first-time users.

    Ultimately, the choice between Solaris and Linux depends on YOU – your specific needs, business, and budget.

    2. Is Solaris Still used in 2024?

    Yes, it may not be as popular as it was in the 1990s, but industries like telecommunications, chemical plants, etc., still use Solaris. According to data, as of April 2024, Solaris’s market share was 3.4%.

    3. Are Linux and Solaris the same?

    No. They are two different operating systems often compared together. But that doesn’t mean they are similar. They are quite different, and each one comes with unique features.

    4. What is the difference between Solaris and Linux?

    Linux is an open-source operating system, while Solaris is a proprietary operating system. This means that Linux’s source code is freely available to everyone. However, Solaris can only be accessed and modified by paid license holders.

    5. What is the difference between Redhat and Solaris?

    Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and Oracle Solaris are two different operating systems. RHEL is supported by Red Hat and is a popular Linux choice with a bigger market share. Solaris, supported by Oracle, is a Unix-based system. RHEL stands out for its security, detailed documentation, and use of external virtualization tools like KVM. In contrast, Solaris has built-in virtualization with Solaris Zones and LDoms and is known for high-performance real-time applications, especially on SPARC hardware.