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Beyond the Linux OS – Nexenta, ReactOS, Syllable & Haiku

13 August 2007 No Comment


I recently stumbled upon this very interesting interview with (ex) Linux kernel developer Con Kolivas. The article is definitely worth a read as Con expresses much of his frustrations with the performance of the Linux kernel for desktop users (much of it relating to scheduling) as well as some of his frustrations with the kernel development process.

I know myself that FROM A USER’S PERSPECTIVE, very high disk i/o can kill a HP DL-585 with 5 x 15K SAS drives, meanwhile the same task running on a lower end HP9000 running HP-UX11a will manage just fine. Go and run bonnie++ or gzip 2 x 4GB archives and also try and USE Linux, you will notice a a severe almost unusable system.

Now, I am one of those people who get caught reading comments of articles. I find some of my nicest little gems there, other suggestions etc. I came across Haiku and Syllable OS, two open source Operating Systems that AREN’T linux. Most people familiar with Linux will be aware that it’s roots are in Unix and so too are the BSD’s but Haiku and Syllable OS do not have Unix roots. Haiku has it’s roots in BeOS and Syllable is a fork of “written-from-scratch” OS called AtheOS.

Now, these aren’t the main two Operating Systems of interest to me. The really interesting ones for me are Nexenta OS and ReactOS. Why these two?

When I was looking to move from PCLinuxOS (and decided upon Ubuntu) I was taking a very strong look at running OpenSolaris for my desktop but I was seeing myself spending too much time trying to build from source or trying to get a decent desktop running as I wanted it. What drew me to Solaris? Three things:

ZFS was the main thing. It provides true snapshotting capabilities, among other things and I really wish something like OpenFiler offered ZFS as it’s main file system rather than LVM on Ext3. I would also like to do some Solaris Certification, so I want to get down and dirty with Solaris – when you work in IT with Financial Services, everything is very conservative – for godsakes, it’s a major problem trying to get approval to get bash and vim installed grrr. anyways..

Anyway, Nexenta OS is essentially Ubuntu on a Solaris kernel, as I understand it.. so I can have my pie and eat it too.. the best of both worlds – I expect it will probably end up replacing Suse 10.2 as my virtual machine fairly soon.

Next on the list, I mentioned ReactOS, why? It’s a windows clone ie: it’s designed to be an open source clone of windows. ie: it’s aim is to be 100% compatible with windows programs, drivers etc. Why is that necessary, why is that powerful? Because it can give to the windows world what we have in the Linux world. ie: distributing mini-virtual machines that are preconfigured with specific sets of services, databases etc. I know of quite a bit of software written for Windows that has no need for 90% of the windows ‘features’. The web hosting industry is a perfect example. Most of those running Windows are only doing so for asp, VB.net and C#.net and MSSQL of course. Now, the dotNet land has been mostly filled by the fruition of Migueld e Izaca’s dreams in mono. Ok, now we can compile and run .Net programs in Linux but there’s many who still need to run win32 applications that haven’t been (and won’t for a while) be compiled in Mono.

Many people dual boot their Linux PC into Windows just to play games – they are still tied to Bill and his crew. That’s where the power of a project like ReactOS shines. It starts to break those ties. It’s an alternative.

I’d still love to take Syllable and Haiku for a test-drive.. but I have too much on my plate at the moment. Maybe one day.

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