Solaris WIN2000 Server Term Paper

Pages: 10 (2968 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Education - Computers

Solaris-win2000 Server

Solaris and Windows 2000 are both options chosen by many people as server operating systems. However, while intended to serve the same purpose, these are far from being copycat versions of the same operating system packaged and marketed by different corporations. Both systems will host various types of networks, but on Windows components interact at a very low level, while on Solaris components interact at a much higher level. With Solaris converting its licensing terms to open source, Windows remains a far more expensive and inferior choice for many reasons which will be detailed in this comparative and informative paper.

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Term Paper on Solaris WIN2000 Server Assignment

Solaris and Windows 2000 server are both popular server operating systems, however, it would be difficult for two systems to be more different. Solaris is the product of combining Berkeley Software Distribution and AT&T System V Unix. Windows 2000 is an evolved version of Windows NT, which contains technologies from DOS and OS/2, with some inspiration from VMS. Both systems are suitable for hosting various types of network services including web, print, file and database applications. Windows is a tightly integrated system which allows components to share data and interact at a very low level. Solaris is highly modular; components interact at a much higher level by passing data as plain text. Windows has several different ways of abstracting hardware configuration and system configuration. Solaris uses human-readable plain text files for configuration and represents hardware devices as files. Solaris offers support for much more powerful hardware than Windows 2000 does, as well as three major architectures instead of only one. Until recently, Windows 2000 and Solaris had similar licensing term, charging different fees based on the number of processors in the server and the number of clients that need to access it. Sun is switching Solaris to an open source license, offering the software free of charge and earning money from support contracts. Solaris support contracts are significantly less expensive than Windows 2000 licenses. Solaris offers improved data integrity relative to Windows 2000 due to the features of both of the primary filesystems available compared to NTFS. The Solaris system of text-based configuration files is also more robust and easier to back up than the Windows 2000 registry. Solaris is a technically superior operating system; Windows 2000 Server should only be used in cases where specific software that requires it is needed.

Windows 2000 and Solaris both offer the ability to provide a wide range of services to clients running on a variety of platforms. Windows 2000 is optimized for providing file, print and directory services to Windows clients. The Samba software provided with Solaris for file services to Windows clients outperforms the built-in file sharing on Windows Server by a factor of 2.5. Solaris is designed to perform well for a variety of applications, especially databases and web serving. Solaris has traditionally been the platform of choice on which to host large databases. Windows 2000 can be used to run large databases as well, but does not approach the functionality of Solaris.

Windows 2000 Server runs on servers based on personal computer technology. Intel x86 and compatible processors are the only ones supported. Up to 8 processors and 8 gigabytes of memory are supported on generally available versions of Windows 2000 Server. The limited-availability datacenter version supports up to 32 processors and 32 gigabytes of memory. Solaris ships on servers with 128 processors and 512 gigabytes of memory. In addition to Intel x86, Solaris fully supports the next-generation x86-64 architecture and Sun's own UltraSPARC line of RISC processors.

Unix was designed from the beginning for simplicity. Everything on the system is represented as a file. Device drivers abstract hardware as files; applications interact with hardware by reading from and writing to the device files. Configuration is stored by the system and applications in plain text files. These text configuration files are readable by the administrator, allowing any application to be reconfigured manually. Unix configuration files allow internal documentation through the use of comments. Comments are lines in the file that are ignored by the program when loading it. Most default configuration files contain comments explaining how to edit the file. Administrators writing complex configuration files usually write comments explaining how and why a certain configuration is used as hints to themselves and future users for future troubleshooting. Plain text files are scriptable by nature, allowing administrators to create a general setup, then have a script automatically configure the details specific to a given environment. Configuration files for more complex software are often written in turing-complete programming languages, which means that behaviors that the software's authors could not envision can be expressed in the configuration file. A common example is mail server software. Routing of electronic mail has become exceedingly complex; an open-ended configuration syntax is the only way to allow administrators to express the required options. For this reason, most mail servers running Microsoft Exchange, which does not use this type of configuration file are positioned behind a Unix mail gateway running Sendmail, Exim or Postfix, which do. Text configuration files are easily backed up, copied between different physical and virtual machines and restored. Corruption of configuration files by programs is rare because they are easy to check for syntactic correctness. In the rare event that a file is corrupted by a program, or the more frequent event that it is corrupted by a careless or incompetent administrator, it can be easily repaired by a competent administrator with a simple text editor.

Windows 2000 stores most of its configuration information in a binary database called the registry. Values are generally put in to the registry by graphical configuration screens within Windows and third-party software. Manual editing of the registry is possible, but generally difficult for several reasons. First, there is no provision for comments or any other type of internal documentation; information about registry keys must be in an external source of documentation, which frequently does not exist or is not made available to the public. Second, registry keys usually have fewer contextual hints as to their meaning than configuration files. Third, the registry requires specialized software to edit; generic tools like text editors cannot be used. Windows 2000 does provide options for backing up the registry, however it does not make backing up specific sections easy. A complete registry cannot be transferred to another machine unless the hardware and software environment is identical. Despite the fact that such copying is technically possible under the ideal circumstance of identical servers, it can create legal problems with licensing. Windows, and many third-party programs store license information in the registry, and provide no standard way to enter separate licenses for each machine when the registry has been copied. It is generally possible to manually edit the registry on each server and enter unique license codes, however, the location of the keys containing the license information for each application is unlikely to be well documented. It is possible to script any registry change that can be made manually, however, determining what changes to make with a script has all the problems that making manual changes does. The registry is prone to corruption, and once corrupt is difficult or impossible to repair. Even Microsoft believes that the registry is suboptimal; Unix-like text-based configuration files are planned for the next version of Windows.

Solaris is made up of multiple components, most of which are optional. Most servers, for example do not require a graphical user interface, and Solaris does not require the administrator to install one. Windows 2000 does not allow users a choice about the installation of most components. Not only is a graphical interface required, but a web browser and a media player are tied to the system. No serious system administrator would surf the web and watch videos on a server. To make matters worse, Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player are a constant source of security holes in Windows. No software sufficiently complex to be useful is free of bugs, so having any unnecessary software installed on a server reduces its security and reliability. Solaris allows unnecessary software such as web browsers and media players to be left out during installation, or easily removed. Of course, such software is available for Solaris workstations or dual-role machines. Many of the components of Windows 2000 Server are tightly integrated; they share data space in memory or communicate using low-level application programming interfaces. A bug in one component can cause undesired behavior, including security breaches in other components. Components of Solaris communicate by passing simple streams of text through pipes, sockets and temporary files. In general, a flaw in one component will be isolated from others, limiting the potential for damage. The large storage capacity of modern servers means that the disk space used by the operating system is of limited concern, however, the amount of RAM and processor time used by an unnecessary component in a heavily loaded server is a serious concern.

Though Solaris does not require the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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