Category: OpenSolaris


Noah Petherbridge
Posted by Noah Petherbridge on Tuesday, June 15 2010 @ 12:46:47 AM
At the office, after preupgrade failed to upgrade Fedora 12 to 13, I figured I could either just install Fedora 13 from scratch, or use the opportunity to give OpenSolaris a try.

OpenSolaris is a Unix operating system (not Linux); I'd played with it in VirtualBox on a few occasions but haven't really gotten into it very deeply so I decided to try installing it on real hardware and try to use it on a day-to-day basis and see how I like it.

OpenSolaris was the creation of Sun Microsystems as a free/open source version of their Solaris operating system. The last stable release was version 2009.06 -- released in June 2009. That version was a bit buggy when run inside VirtualBox; for instance, the audio system didn't work with the virtual audio card provided by VirtualBox, and one would need to manually install the Open Sound System and do a bunch of hacking to fix it. The 2010 release of OpenSolaris was supposed to fix that, but the 2010 release is still missing in action...

After Oracle bought out Sun it seems that OpenSolaris is being neglected. It was supposed to have a release in February as version 2010.02... but that got pushed to March (2010.03), but March came and went and there hasn't been any news from Oracle about it. I hope OpenSolaris isn't going to die though, because it's pretty interesting to me. It and Mac OS X are the only two Unix-based operating systems I've found (so far) that are as user-friendly as Linux. I've tried FreeBSD, for example, and it installs a text mode system and getting a graphical desktop requires a bit of work; it seems to be for the hardcore Unix fans and not the user base of Linux users.

Anyway, I installed the latest development build that was slated to become 2010.*, and, to my surprise all the hardware on my PC at the office worked perfectly with OpenSolaris out of the box; even the proprietary nVidia drivers came pre-installed so I could set up the dual monitors immediately. It's surprising because OpenSolaris in general, along with most other Unix operating systems, doesn't have nearly as wide a range of hardware support as does Linux.

So... dying or not, I'll keep trying OpenSolaris out until I break it or get sick of it, whichever comes first. So far it's been providing a nice new challenge for me though; its software repository isn't as wide as most Linux distributions, so some of the software I'm used to using in Linux that's usually just a yum install away is a bit trickier to get for OpenSolaris. I can live without most of them though for work-related purposes; all I need is VirtualBox, Firefox and some terminal windows to do my job. But I did have to compile the latest version of Wine from source to run my company's chat application because the 1.0.1 version with OpenSolaris doesn't quite cut it.

Once you know one Linux distro you can find your way around any of them; Unix is where the diversity is at. :)

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