Alpha FreeBSD or Ultra 5 Solaris?

Alpha FreeBSD or Ultra 5 Solaris?

Post by Roger Marqui » Sat, 10 Jul 1999 04:00:00

>Simply put, for the last 6 months I have been SUPER E*D to buy a Sun
>Ultra 5.  For $2500, I can get an Ultra 5/270mhz/256k cache machine with
>64MB ram.

Make that a 360Mhz/512K cache or 300Mhz/2M cache for $2,400.

A better choice would be to have both.  Nothing that beats FreeBSD's
ports collection.  On the other hand it's also nice to run the
latest RealAudio (newer than v3), or other audio apps without
mucking with the kernel, or have a fully functioning system including
X11 15 minutes after running "boot cdrom".

As far as jobs go there are an increasing number of FreeBSD positions
available but they're still less than 1/10th of 1% of what's
available to Solaris admins.  Due to the price FreeBSD sysadmins
also tend to work for lower salaries.  FreeBSD environments also
typically lack NFS and NIS making the administration of more than
a few systems considerably more difficult.

IMHO: don't put all your eggs in one basket, learn both.

Roger Marquis
Roble Systems Consulting


1. Alpha FreeBSD or Ultra 5 Solaris?

I almost made this a long, drawn email asking for advice.  Then I erased it
because I didn't want to be boring..

Simply put, for the last 6 months I have been SUPER EXCITED to buy a Sun
Ultra 5.  For $2500, I can get an Ultra 5/270mhz/256k cache machine with
64MB ram.  I wanted it for the sake of learning Solaris and learning system
administration tasks on the world's most popular commercial Unix.  Then it
hit me!  After selling all my legacy equipment on ebay and having $2500 in
cash sitting here in front of me, I DON'T WANT THE ULTRA 5!

I used FreeBSD for several months last year and I though it was great.  It's
fast and geared towards the Internet just like Solaris.  The only problem I
have with buying an Ultra 5 is the cost of upgrading.  Sure, $2500 gets me a
cheap Ultra 5 with 256k cache and a SpecInt of 10.2 (equal to a Pentium
II/233 - a 2 year old chip!).  To upgrade the Ultra 5 from 270 -> 480mhz
with 2MB cache is $4000.  The $2500 Ultra ships with 8 Bit graphics and
EIDE.  The more I re-read the specs the more it makes me see Sun is not
appealing to me with the "shaved down" machine.

Besides, I want to learn "Internet" related administration, not OS specific
tasks.  That means Apache, DNS, Sendmail, Real G2 Server, things that are
all available for both Solaris and FreeBSD.  So, I figures instead of
spending the $2500 on a very low-end Ultra 5, I could get more bang for the
buck by getting a DEC Alpha..  A very good friend of mine sells used SUN,
SGI, and DEC ALPHA machines.  He has the following system for sale:

DEC Alpha 500a, 128MB, 2MB Cache, 4GB HDA, 16MB PCI Video Card, CD-Rom -

Simply stated: A Sun machine that is comparable to this is going to cost a
fortune!  My only question to you, the FreeBSD world (and PLEASE be honest),
is in regards to learning FreeBSD versus Solaris - is there something I will
gain by learning Solaris instead of FreeBSD?  I'm an MCSE, Cisco CCNA and
CCNP who is studying for the Cisco CCIE.  As we all know, Cisco and Solaris
are the two companies who are most prolific with the Internet.  However, we
all know FreeBSD lives here, there, and everywhere.. FreeBSD is by far the
most popular platform that exists in multi-vendor environments.  Many shops
who use Solaris for one task use FreeBSD for 3 more tasks.. It just pops up
all over the place.

Because I'm spending over $1k this is considered a serious move for me.  If
I buy the Alpha and install FreeBSD then that's it - there is no turning
back!  If I buy the Ultra 5, the same thing will happen..there is no turning
back!  I don't have money to waste...whatever I get the first time is what I
am stuck with.  My instinct tells me buying the Ultra 5 will be fun for the
first week but that I'll get frustrated with the SpecINT 10.2 performce
versus the Alpha's 18.9 performance.  Also, keeping up with FreeBSD is much

Are there any known issues with the Alpha I should be aware of?

Mark Holloway

I appreicate ANY feedback!

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