Chris J Powell

OS Sunday – Hey Mom…the World Didn't End!!!

Partly in honor of the fact that we are all still here and the world did not end on Friday I thought that I would take a trip down memory lane.  Thinking back just a few years, Sun Microsystems was bar none the biggest OpenSource company out there.  They handled everything from Java to mySQL and even came up with a great OS that held its own with any other Linux or BSD OS out there.  But then Oracle came along…how are things over 3 years in to the Shotgun Wedding?

SolarisAs far as Solaris Goes…it has been at least 3 years since I gave it a whirl, so I downloaded the x86 Live Media iso from the Oracle site, it is important to note that you do need to be a registered user at to be able to download Solaris but my initial thoughts were very positive.  The 993MB download will not fit onto a CD but that is ok the use of USB Sticks for installing has become far more prevalent anyways and it does not leave you with a stack of disks 5 feet tall at the end of the day!

The initial boot to the live media was an interesting mix of old school and new but the interesting part is that it came right to the desktop and was ready to use despite what appeared to be some glitches where it was asking for username and password.

While waiting for the OS to load into the Virtual Machine with 4GB of RAM and 20GB of HDD, I jumped back to Oracle’s site and was amazed at the amount of really solid documentation that is out there to support the migration, installation and support of the Solaris OS!  I was most impressed with the interesting concept of the Automated Installer option that would let Solaris be deployed to all machines:



But back to the wonderful world of Solaris 11!  The initial boot was more than a little disappointing as I have grown accustomed to the fairly standard 30 second to desktop but Solaris had me waiting almost as long as my Active Directory Driven Windows 7 machine at work clocking in at just shy of 5 minutes to a functioning Desktop.  I decided to see if it was finalizing the install and did a quick reboot of the system just to make sure and even the shut down process was painfully slow, and the return back to the desktop…just as long!

I understand that Solaris is designed as a corporate replacement to Windows but does it have to emulate all that is wrong with the Desktop environment???  But is Solaris really meant for the Desktop anymore???

Once into the desktop though…the speed issues were gone.  A nice rendering of a Gnome-like Desktop is what you are greeted with.  The environment itself to me was like putting on an old pair of jeans…comfortable and broken in in all the right places.  I felt right at home with the OS right away.  Included with the OS out of the box is:

  • Internet – Firefox and Thunderbird
  • Office – No default suite
  • Multimedia – Totem Movie Player and Rhythmbox for Music.

It really was a very light distro, so it left me wondering…where the 993MB went to…well I would say that that is in the back end a “Baby got Back” in this case.  The thought that went into the building of the Solaris Package Manager is exactly what should be used as a use case. You enter in through a desktop shortcut and you are greeted with an option to install one or more of some “Meta Packages” which are add on packs that help to define the OS that you just installed.

I was not able to find any Office Suite options (even Star Office was missing) so I decided to take a leap and run the Install All Meta Package, but that die not add much of anything.  The downfall of this otherwise gorgeous OS may be that it has just lost touch and if you can not be productive…then there is just no point, although Google Apps does work fine and in the world of Web Apps that might just be enough…but Offline…I am still SOL.

I was hopeful that Oracle had not forgotten about Solaris but as I dug deeper into the OS…it just was not going to cut it as a Desktop replacement, but I became very intrigued by the options of running the Server version of the OS which can be installed and configured very quickly from the Package installer giving me options for setting up a ZFS NAS or an Apache Server…this was beginning to get far more interesting…but I miss Solaris as a Desktop…SHAME ON YOU ORACLE!!!

As for a rating:




Chris J Powell


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