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A Bashful Glimpse at Solaris Indiana Developer Preview Edition

Date/Time Permalink: 01/20/08 12:41:32 pm
Category: Reviews

There's no getting around it - I'm going to have to go to a psychiatrist some day with my unhealthy Sun Microsystems obsession.


"Doc", I would say, "Every time I see an Open Solaris distro, I have these sky-high expectations which are constantly disappointed by the reality. Yet my optimism for the next Sun release never falters."

"I see.", the psychiatrist would say, "What does Sun Microsystems symbolize to you?"

"Well, see, they used to be this big, hostile proprietary tech company, but lately they've been open-sourcing their operating system and giving us Open Office and they even GPL'ed Java. And I always think that they're this close to being as cool a company as, say, Red Hat or Google. If they really went all the way with Solaris distros, they'd be just like Linux, only with clout and money."

"Ah", the psychiatrist would say, "So then you, as the rebellious youngster with the new software liberty philosophy, look to this member of the old guard who represents the establishment you have fought; now you hope that they will change sides just so it would validate your rebel beliefs?"

"Why yes! That does sound like the source of my fixation."

"Mmm-hmm," the psychiatrist would nod to his conclusion, "Passive-aggressive Oedipus complex. When it comes down to it, you don't really want to kill the father figure. How much easier it would be if your rival simply gave up and let you have what you wanted?"

"Wow!", I'd wow, "You're pretty good at psyching me out, considering that you're a figment of my imagination I cooked up for a blog post!"

And the psychiatrist laughs and says, "You think that's something! Wait until you see what I'll be writing about you in my blog!"

CAMERA PANS upward to starry sky, as Rod Serling does his concluding voice-over...

"Penguin Pete, who blogged a dream, only to find that in fact he was the dream being blogged. Penguin Pete, whose RSS feed is bookmarked only in... the Twilight Zone!"


So, to get to the "review" part, which won't be very long: Introducing OpenSolaris Indiana! Now, I stress... this is important... wait, don't jump ahead, read this part!!!... I stress that I'm not criticizing this release. It is not even an alpha release; it's a "developer's preview". It isn't even born yet, we're just getting a picture through the womb on ultrasound. I love Open Solaris. If I loved it any more, it would have to file a restraining order against me.

Note that there's no screenshots with this "review". Always a sign of bad news to come. But as they say, "Try it!" so I'm doin' dat.

Anyway, on my four computers it failed to boot on three of them and on the fourth could only boot to a text console. The GRUB loader for the live CD gives three options for regular desktop boot, regular desktop without ACPI, and text console, and on the three computers where it failed to boot, it failed on all three options.

On the Pentium Pro 450MHz with 320 RAM, it stopped quickly with "Error 28: selected item cannot fit into memory" right after a line that said "module /boot/x86.microroot". On the Intel Celeron 433MHz with 512 RAM (this is the Windows XP/ FreeBSD dual-booter) it immediately jumped into an infinite loop printing "WARNING: init(1m) exited on fatal signal 9: restarting automatically" over and over. It failed on the other box with likewise problems which I forgot to document.

The machine where it booted successfully is an AMD Duron 1000MHz with 255 RAM. The graphical option simply hauls off and tries to start, resulting in a blank screen, dead as a doornail. In getting the console boot, I was at last able to explore.

OpenSolaris Indiana's guts look a lot like a GNU system. the shell is Bash, it has vi and less and ls and a complete info system and days worth of entertaining man-page reading. It has no Emacs, but whenever I mention that as a minus I get whipped for being an Emacs bigot. So I didn't mention it.

Were I to explore it and stick with it, there's at least a possibility that I could get the X system tweaked to run on my very basic video hardware - ATI Rage 128 AGP card and HP Pavilion monitor. I just mention the ancient hardware so you know I'm not bashing a distro for not supporting some laser-guided cutting edge stuff. I certainly did not find /etc/X11/xorg.conf which I could have edited in vi and given a shot with 'startx', which is how I usually solve display problems on Linux distros. And learning the Solaris equivalent is better done from a working desktop with web access, so I'll put that in my 'to-do' queue.

Exploring the file system from the command line, I noted the presence of a full Gnome install, Gimp, and Firefox. The screenshots on the Indiana site look tasty.

I've explored OpenSolaris systems before and had similar issues. I stamp my foot and whine. I wait a while and try one again. And it looks like I should just get to be comfortable with the idea that I'm not going to get my pony, not for a while. The thing I can't seem to remember is that Linux took 15 years to get where it is now, BSD took 30 years, and with Open Solaris being just over 2 years old, it is not going to just catch right up with the other Unix family members.

But, do you want some hope? As the Wiki turns, no less than Ian Murdock has just been hired by Sun to head the Indiana project. Well, hey, if Open Solaris wasn't going anywhere before, it damn sure is going to start going places now.

I Can HAZ Sun COOLNESS Plz? With lotsa Java in it? Sometime soon?

metal sig without much mustard

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