Well, Indiana is here. I got it running on my Ultra 20, which is unsurprising as that’s all-Sun hardware. Default userland: GNU. Default shell: Bash. I feel right at home. There are issues, but this is progress in a good direction.

OpenSolaris Developer Preview screenshot

The distro is amazingly smooth for a first pre-alpha preview, and it’s definitely got that GNU/Solaris flavor which I’ve repeatedly argued has an attractive future. I filed two bugs: Grub couldn’t see the the bootable Ubuntu and Windows in the other partitions, and Firefox (but not the system utilities) uses horrid jaggy bleed-from-the-eyeballs un-anti-aliased fonts.

[Flame on]: Why the bloody hell is every operating system, including Ubuntu from which I expect better, so inexcusably lame in dealing with disk partitions? The Indiana distro overwrote my MBR. Well, that ought to be a transient irritant, every LiveCD distro ought to have some sort of one-liner which says “Here are the partitions; tell me which ones you think ought to be bootable and I’ll set things up for you.” I spent a good half-hour arguing with fdisk and grub on the latest Ubuntu LiveCD to get them to do the obviously right thing. Bah.

The Best Bit · The #1 problem in Solaris, from a developer’s point of view, has been the absence of something that does what Debian’s magical apt-get does. Sun insiders including me have been browbeating the Solaris engineering group over this for years. They considered adopting apt and decided they could build something better; it’s called IPS. I think they might be onto something, although I wonder why it needs two names, “ips” and “pkg”.

Oh yeah, there’s all that DTrace/Zones/ZFS/SMF Solaris goodness, but that was assumed. You have to go through the userland to get there, which is why Indiana matters.

Problems · There are some people in the community who are really pissed that Indiana’s name includes “OpenSolaris”, arguing that the right way to encourage an ecosystem of OpenSolaris-kernel-based distros is to be super-careful about how you use the name “OpenSolaris”. On the other hand, “Where can I download OpenSolaris?” is a reasonable question that ought to have an answer, and some feel that the proliferation of Linux distros is a bug not a feature. So this is a reasonable argument to have.

There are others (they get no sympathy from me) who are livid because bash is the default user shell, and because /usr/gnu is at the front of the default user path. Well, excuse me, one goal of the exercise is to make Solaris interesting to people who haven’t been using it, and most of those people have been living in GNU/bash territory for their entire working lives, and think that’s how Things Ought To Be. The good bits of Solaris don’t include its userland or its shell. Anyone who knows enough to care will have no trouble switching to back to their POSIX-compliant hair shirt.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Gleb Zhgun (Nov 02 2007, at 04:36)

There seems to be something slightly wrong with not providing a bittorrent download of the image now that it is the standard way of downloading big files from internet.


From: Ben Hutchings (Nov 02 2007, at 08:28)

Solaris's default shell is a Bourne shell, but it *isn't* POSIX-compliant. That's part of what's so annoying about a default install.


From: Ongoing Lurker (Nov 02 2007, at 09:37)

Is it _really_ necessary to have Yet Another Package System? If your people don't like apt-get there's yum, there's portage, there's MacPorts... most of these are mature and most of them at least have a user base to build on. Why reinvent this wheel for the nth time?


From: John Hart (Nov 02 2007, at 09:50)

I've been running Nexenta for about 6 months. It's the GNU userland, with Gnome, on top of OpenSolaris.

As project Indiana gains speed I'll probably switch to it, but I'm a little confused why I need to make the choice. Why don't these projects merge? I feel like I'm missing something obvious, but I'm not sure what it is.


From: Robin (Nov 02 2007, at 12:05)

Very cool! I like the direction they are heading.

I hope they will consider integrating PackageKit in the future. It provides a higher level abstract over the underlying package management infrastructure, so that standard, cross-distribution package management tools and GUIs can be utilized. I'm really not interested in learning the ins and outs of another package manager.



From: paul kent (Nov 02 2007, at 17:29)

tell it like it is, tim!! i was lukewarm on giving it a try until i got to the hairshirt crack. now i'm obliged to support you and give it a whirl.


From: Tom Scola (Nov 03 2007, at 08:49)

In its 25 years of existence, NIH has always been Sun's biggest problem.

We don't need another packaging system. No matter how good it is, it's only going to be marginally better than apt-get, and it's not going to be worth the complication.

As a system administrator, this gives me yet another reason to be angry with Sun, and even more incentive to dump Solaris and switch entirely to Linux.


From: Perry Trill (Nov 05 2007, at 19:19)

Hey Tom - I, for one, would love to see some innovation around package mgmt and provisioning. And unlike you, I'm young enough to look forward to innovation and creativity - heaven forfend, even in things as dependable as smartphones and laptop OS's. Geez, if you were running Sun, they'd still be buffing CDE and saying "customers love it." Progress is a bitch, sorry.


From: David Comay (Nov 06 2007, at 23:16)

Thanks Tim for your comments and for filing the two bugs. There are a bunch of very low-hanging fruit which we weren't able to resolve in time for the end of October but I too think the end result is quite good.

As I was the primary instigator for putting /usr/gnu/bin at the front of the PATH and the use of Bash for the default shell, I'm glad at least one person approves :-) but hopefully we will be able to provide a more integrated experience the next time around (prepending to the PATH was a fairly crude way of forcing the GNU utilities front and center).

As for IPS and why we didn't use apt, I think Stephen Hahn has covered some of this in the blog. Part of the problem is that there are a number of OpenSolaris-specific functionality from diskless clients to Zones to ZFS where the packaging system either has to be able to install/manage those OS instances or in the case of ZFS, not only install into but use ZFS for implementing rollback in the package system directly. I think we're on the right track but the pavement is still wet and folks are encouraged to participate in the design of IPS.


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November 01, 2007
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