After more than five years as a professional Unix Administrator I feel I am entitled to an opinion about the various Unixes, if not qualified to give it. Herewith is a comparison of HP-UX with Solaris both of which I have administered in enterprise environments.
LVM vs Solstice DiskSuite: no argument here, LVM is far better and very well implemented, doubly better if you have online JFS with it. Personally I find LVM streets ahead of Veritas volume manager as well, LVM’s command line interface is consistant and simple to work with, Veritas is a bit of a dog by comparison. I heard a rumour that HP is considering dropping LVM in favour of Veritas, that would be a tragedy IMO.
ServiceGuard vs SunCluster: I can’t quantify this one but my gut feeling is that ServiceGuard is more reliable than SunCluster, I certainly find it simpler to administer.
At the command prompt: Solaris is the clear winner here, why does HP-UX move things like //etc/init.d to /sbin/init.d? Long command lines don’t wrap on HP-UX and their ls has some strange behaviours (eg. with ls -F on a symlink to a directory shows it with a trailing “//” ls -aF on the same will show it with a trailing “@” which is what I think it should show). Solaris also ships with a heap of the GNU toolset goodies which I find make life at the command prompt much friendlier.
Any-one who has ever tried to build the Perl DBI and DBD::Oracle modules on HP-UX is probably with me here, those modules just work on Solaris, whilst I understand it can be done on HP-UX it is way way harder than it should be. These kind of problems seem to be much more prevalent on HP-UX than Solaris.
Hardware: I can’t back it up with any statistics but in my experience HP boxes have far fewer hardware failures than Sun boxes.
Support: my experience has been that HP take your call a more seriously and are less likely to push back, I spent a couple of months at one stage convincing Sun support that the memory growth I was seeing in a service was a leak and not “normal useage”. Whilst I would probably give this one to HP, Sun also provide great support and their field engineers have always been great. As far as community support goes (mailing lists, web pages, newsgroups etc) Solaris does seem to have more of that kind of support and better too.
Where would I rather work? If I am the on-call bunny, I’d probably pick HP-UX but for life at the command prompt day-to-day, probably Solaris.
Update: Someone elses comparisons- Solaris versus HP-UX