Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Experiences with OpenSolaris

As most of you already know, Sun Microsystems had released Solaris's source code, under CDDL as OpenSolaris distribution. The company is very busy these days promoting Open Solaris in Universities, on the net, to create a community; and has been quite successful in doing that as well. A one-hour login to #opensolaris channel at irc.freenode.net, is enough to prove to you that there is surely a strong community working on the OS. One of their best endeavors was to kick start Solaris University Challenge.
Quite obviously, I am participating in it. Well, think of it! That's the whole point of writing this post. These are the things I've come across:

1. Couldn't get Solaris to install on my Pentium III machine, as it required more RAM than my 256MB wd provide. This is owing to Java Desktop System being quite heavy.

2. Solaris comes with Star Office 7, and Mozilla 1.7 (yup! No OpenOffice, and Firefox?!). I still can't understand the reason behind their opting against these two most popular Open Source Softwares; going with things people have forgotten or not known at all, buried in history books (or blogs :-D).

3. There is no Software Package Manager. The default one that comes is a pkgadd command. The essential packages are provided in 4th cd of Solaris, their names prefixed with SUNW (for e.g. man pages - SUNWman). I inserted the CD, and there was no automatic mounting. I tried to use my easy linux ways to mount, but no use. After finding no way to mount it, and checking online for an hour or so, got this command:

#/etc/init.d/volmgt stop
#/etc/init.d/volmgt start

There is no 'restart' option?! However, these commands restarted the volume management which is responsible for mounting the devices. Once restarted, it recognized my cd, and mounted it. So, I cd into the packages directory, and tried to install the package:
#cd /cdrom/sol_11_x86_4/Solaris_11/Product
#pkgadd -d SUNWman
pkgadd: ERROR: no packages were found in

Wao! Now what to do? So, after some searching, I came across this:
#pkgadd -d /cdrom/sol_11_x86_4/Solaris_11/Product SUNWman

And exactly opposite of my expectations, the command worked, and the package was installed!! I've no clue why on earth wd someone have a *constraint* like this one.

4. Thankfully someone has taken these problems in account, and created a centralized package system online at http://blastwave.org. You can download 'pkg-get' package, which provides similar functionality as apt-get, retrieving packages from the blastwave packages list. Though it has a very primitive way of 5-6 step installation, but it surely does _work_ after that. Helped me to install my saviour firefox, and vim editor.
#pkg-get -i vim

Ya! Solaris only has the old vi editor. For those who dun know why vim is better; imagine you can't use your arrow keys to browse thro the code, or use your backspace button to delete. Though backspace still doesn't work fine for me even in vim :(.

5. Crap fonts!

6. _Amazing kernel_. The solaris kernel code is very neat. The more I'm understanding filesystem implementation in solaris, the more I'm appreciating it. I'd like to mention here that ZFS is beyond doubt the most advanced filesystem available today.

Conclusion: Solaris/OpenSolaris is powerful Operating System with amazing kernel and fs, though its ages behind becoming a desktop OS.

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