Solaris 2.x on a Pentium?

Victor Jongeneel vjongene at eliot.unil.ch
Fri Apr 25 04:31:07 EST 1997

Chang Zhou <czhou at womble.com> wrote in article
<33559ECF.1D5BEA0A at womble.com>...
> Albert Gold wrote:
> > I know that SUN apparently makes an OS which clearly will run
> > upon Pentium machines, called X86, but that system is
> > NOT Solaris.
> > 
> It virtually the same, I'm referring to Solaris-2.5-x86,
> except the different binaries, and very stable as well,
> never have once crushed unexpectedly.  Even though you have
> to pay $500 to $1000 for one license, but for those unix lovers
> it worths all the money.  With PP-200 plus enough cheap RAM
> and SCSI disk space, it seems to perform better than Ultra-1,
> and at a substantially lower price.
> > Has anybody tried running Solaris on a Pentium machine?  Does it work?
> > 
> Sure, it works.

To add my 0.02 worth to this thread:

1) Solaris X86 (current version: 2.5.1) works extremely well on
Pentium-class machines. We bought it (about US$ 100 academic) because of
its support for multiprocessor architectures. A 2-processor PentiumPro 200
(cheap Tyan motherboard) with Solaris X86 handily outperforms much more
expensive machines running Solaris SPARC. We currently use this setup as a
BLAST server - check it out at

2) Why not Linux? We actually do have Linux installed on several machines,
and on a single-processor computer it performs at least as well as Solaris
X86. The latter still has a few advantages: support from Sun, a more
coherent environment, source level compatibility with Solaris SPARC (easy
recompiles of SPARC software), and well established support for
multiprocessor architectures. All of the software for which we had source
code compiled without a hitch, and runs at devilish speeds. But Linux has
many advantages too...

3) As to GCG, it explicitly does *not* support Solaris X86. You could of
course compile version 8 from the supplied source code, but for reasons
that are beyond me GCG considers this a violation of the license agreement.
You would think that they should be happy to have someone else try...

4) Finally, if anyone is planning to buy Solaris X86, be aware that there
is an official compatibility list
(http://access1.sun.com/certify/hcl.html), regularly updated, which should
be consulted *before* buying a system. There is also a very active mailing
list (solaris-x86 at webpro.eis.com) and its archive
(http://www.eis.com/services/mlist.html), providing excellent topical help
and tips.

Hope this is useful to someone...

Victor Jongeneel

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