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Author:  Hollow
October 9, 2008



 

 

I asked myself this very same question about 3 weeks ago …..

…..and decided to install it in a VM (Virtual Machine). I told a colleague I was planning to do it and he got somewhat reminiscent of his days using the “non free” version of it. He also said “We used to call it “Slow-Aris”, a comment I simply dismissed as him being humerus about the much older version of the operating system he had used.

Well although he WAS indeed being humerus, it seems he was also very right. During the installation of Open Solaris (Please remember this was in a virtual machine so it did not have full resources like a full PC would have) things started well, a pretty installer, nice and graphical but also informative and it felt, well, good. I hate using the word good to describe things but that’s about as much as I can say, it just felt good.

The installation moved on a bit and things started to slow down, then it got to the part where it was actually doing the installation after I had provided the information the system needed and let’s put it this way, I not only went for several coffees I went for several smokes and helped a few customers while it finished.

About an hour and a half later I found the installation had finished and so rebooted the VM to explore the OS and see for myself what it was like. Once again, all started well, the login screen was pretty, the login itself didn’t take too long and I was greeted with the default Gnome desktop. I was happy at this point, unfortunately this was not to continue. After some digging I discovered, although it is possible to install the KDE Desktop on Open Solaris is just wasn’t worth the hassle unless you were very seriously wanting to keep this as your main OS.

Granted I am a Linux evangelist and although I don’t particularly have an issue using, working on or installing other AIX based systems like Open Solaris, this particular adventure reminded me of why I don’t like them as much. It’s like when I get on a Mac, I love the way it looks, I like all the effort that’s gone into the GUI and I start thinking about how usable everyone says it is, then I start using it. I remember that half my bash commands won’t work, I can’t just install a package by typing a command and dragging it down from a repository, and that stupid Finda bar just confuses the crap out of me once I’ve got more than 2 or 3 applications open, not to mention the fact that I can never find anything I want to use (Like console or connecting to another machine etc) and the Mac user behind me watching me fix his machine has to show me all the keyboard shortcuts he/she uses to open things. With Open Solaris I had similar issues, I found the package manager to be a bit sketchy and left a lot to be desired, the graphical interface just looked like Linux because it was running Gnome and I realized, all they’ve done is customized it a little from the way it would look in say a default “from scratch” installation and then I noticed the speed, it was apalling.

As I said at the begging of this post, you must remember this was in a VM so it had limited resources. But, I gave it the exact same resources as my Kubuntu VM, my FreeBSD VM and even my Windows 2003 Server VM, they all run perfectly (Strangely enough I’ve never seen Windows boot as quickly as it does when installed as a VM on Linux, but that’s another post), yet Open Solaris lagged behind them all in terms of, time to boot, time to login, time to open programs once booted and time to shut down when you’ve had enough. I can only assume from this, that either it is ALWAYS this slow or it is just VERY resource hungry, more so than Windows 2003 Server, and that’s saying something!

If you’ve got a spare machine or a Virtual Environment to install it in and you fancy it, I recommend giving Open Solaris a whirl, you might find you enjoy it more than me, I know a lot of these Mac fans like OSX, BECAUSE it isn’t so customizable (Therefore not as breakable) and it just does everything for you. Open Solaris just isn’t for me though I’m afraid, sorry Sun.


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