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Using OpenSolaris 2008.11 as desktop for one day

I’ve written about OpenSolaris earlier, and I’m impressed. It’s a promising OS, with a few quirks. I decided to use it as desktop OS for a day.

First of, it’s Gnome. I prefer KDE, but hey, I take what’s available. It’s not that important really. The first thing I missed was OpenOffice, which should be installed by default on a desktop Unix OS in my opinion – it’s used so often those days. I hit a problem. The package manager complained that I should check my network connection – which is configured through DHCP. The DHCP server hands out all the info needed, including a default gateway, but the client failed to set the default route. I had to use pfexec route add default <gateway IP> to set the default gateway, and hence get internet connection…

This confirms some of my impression that OpenSolaris is a very nice beta, but not ready for prime time. It can’t compete with most Linux distros in terms of friendlyness, and more important: everything working out of the box. It’s such minor quirks that keeps me away…

I rsync’d my home directory over from the Linux machine to vmware, and everything just worked. I svn up‘d and grabbed the latest version of a project I’m working on, and started editing it in OpenOffice.

OpenSolaris with gimp and openoffice opened.

OpenSolaris with gimp and openoffice opened.

Pidgin, the IM-client I tend to use was already installed, so that was no hassle; I simply started it. The list goes on. Most of the software I use, like Gimp, was installed. The most notable piece missing was OpenOffice… So while installing OpenOffice I edited a picture in the gimp. It was, well, like editing the image in gimp on any platform…

Installing software is straight forward, albeit slow. OpenSolaris should get more local mirrors. The 154MB of OpenOffice took 10 minutes to get… I understand that mirrors tend to come with more users, but perphaps they should get a mirror or two in Europe now…

The OpenSolaris Package manager. Quite quick (10 seconds) to start, quite snappy to use. I believe it's one of the better graphical package managers I've seen...

The OpenSolaris Package manager. Quite quick (10 seconds) to start, quite snappy to use. I believe it's one of the better graphical package managers I've seen...

Like one should expect, all the usual desktop software just worked, and there was no way to tell which OS I was using. This ain’t exactly surprising… The difference lies in the administration of the system.

One nice thing, which I haven’t had use for today, is the time slider. I do regular backups, and keep most stuff in a SVN repository, so generally I have quite a few previous versions of a file available. ZFS’ snapshot feature and timeslider is commented quite in depth at Erwann Chénedé’s blog.

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