I went and got that second alpha release of Nexenta from gnusolaris.org and gave it a try on my Ultra 20. There are still a few rough edges, but it basically works. [Updates: Managed to try NetBeans, and filed my first bug.]

There’s a curses-flavor installer, and quickly I hit my first problem; I couldn’t figure out how to make it use my existing partition table and install over my previous vanilla Solaris. Well, I figured, I won’t need that Ubuntu on the other partition any more after I install this (right?) so I told Nexenta to take the whole disk and let ’er rip.

The installation was pretty trouble-free, except it didn’t ask me to set the time, which caused a few problems later when I switched it from European to West Coast time.

Did I say rough edges? If you hit an invalid key while you’re working through the install menus, a little error message appears in the corner of the screen saying “Wuff Wuff!”. OK, then.

Smells Like Linux · Anyhow, once you’ve got through the install, it starts to feel remarkably like Debian in general and Ubuntu in particular. One downside: it actually creates a root account that you can su into; both OS X and Ubuntu hide that account and make you use sudo, which is really much better.

The Synaptic package manager seems to Just Work, and there sure are lots of packages there. I installed the Gimp, and you know, my Mac laptop totally Just Can’t Do This (check the pixel sizes on those slide scans):

Nexenta Gimp screenshot

Step-by-Step Java · What I want to run, of course, is NetBeans. Except for, despite what the Nexenta announcement says, there’s no Java there, and I couldn’t find one in Synaptic. I shot off an email to Nexenta guy Alex Ross (his address isn’t hard to find) and he wrote back “Oops, that’s a bug, just do apt-get install sunwjre1.5.” Of course I hadn’t found that package because I’d been looking for things that began with J.

So now that I had a JRE, I went and got the NetBeans 5.0 download, but it whined that it needed a JDK. Grmph. And there was no sunwjdk1.5 package to be seen in Synaptic.


“Oops. Hold on... right. Now you can apt-get sunwjdk1.5.”

Then the NetBeans installation worked fine—boy, does it ever start up fast! Now I have to figure out how to get into Sun’s VPN so I can actually check out some code and use it.

[Update] I ran out of patience fighting with VPN and just copied all my source code over. I’ve written about this before, but if you’re using a modern IDE (I suspect this is true for Eclipse, IntelliJ, and Visual Studio too) and you’re not throwing some big iron at the problem, go get yourself a new computer. I really like recompiles of ten thousand lines or so of code with zero seconds elapsed. Really like it.

The Future · In the future, when you get yourself an x86 or x64 box, you’re going to face a series of choices, including two big ones: KDE or Gnome for the UI? Linux or Solaris for the kernel? It looks like the same software is going to pretty well just work, whichever choices you make. So your choices are going to be based on your tastes and your application mix and what kind of support you want and so on. Which are all business issues. As in, no lock-in. This is a New Thing in the world.

author · Dad
colophon · rights

February 03, 2006
· Technology (90 fragments)
· · Open Source (82 more)
· · Solaris (27 more)

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