[AUUG-Talk]: NexentaOS - My First Few Days Of Using It...

David Lloyd lloy0076 at adam.com.au
Thu Sep 14 21:49:22 EST 2006

Hi There,

A while ago, I decided I was bored with my Debian GNU/Linux (SID) 
installation. Of all things, it was too stable, rarely had a glitch and 
had become quite a commodity to me.

In shot, after about 3 years of essentially stable updating -- with a 
hiatus about 8 months ago when a hard drive went pie shaped and I had to 
do a reinstall -- I got bored.

To this end, I thought. let's:

1. Download Ubuntu
2. Download FreeBSD 6.1

I steered clear of Ubuntu, not because I thought it crap or anything, 
but it struck me that it would be another 3 years of Debian. I did think 
of installing FreeBSD 6.1 and put a test install on a secondary machine; 
it's improved since I last used FreeBSD (around 4.8ish seriously, but 
I'd tinkered with the 5.X series).

Then I stumbled across: "Internals: Solaris 10 and OpenSolaris Kernel 
Architecture (2nd Edition)" at Dymocks in Adelaide. Unbeknownst to many, 
I've been trying to get a Solaris on x86 to install on *something* for 
about 4-6 years now...

So I downloaded OpenSolaris ON (which I think is Solaris Express in 
technical terms). I attempted a futile install on my secondary machine 
but thought, confound. Then someone mentioned NexentaOS which seems to 
prefer to call itself GNU/Solaris.

Having downloaded the full ISO and then the LiveCD, I discovered that 
the LiveCD recognised everything in my LG LM50 laptop and then decided: 
well, it's got apt and it's got Gnome, what can possibly go wrong?

Just for fun, I install Solaris Express on my main machine first. I ran 
into a "no drivers for network card, get drivers, need network to 
transfer drivers, go back to step 1". It didn' help that I had NO IDEA 
about the labelling of Solaris partitions so even though I -could- get 
the network using the NexentaOS LiveCD it just became too difficult.

I decided to install NexentaOS.

Well, needless to say, it installed.

1. GNU Solaris seems to be no less responsive then GNU Linux
    - in fact, for what I do it seems a little -more- responsive

2. The Alpha5 version of GNU/Solaris doesn't have any man pages which is
    REALLY CRAP when you fall over a Solaris specific command and need

    - this is a known issue and I think it's a licensing wrangle and
      they'll appear in Alpha6
    - this is really bad when a service falls over on you and you lose
    hint: If you're not familiar with Solaris, have another machine that
    can search the 'net for man pages :)

3. No mattter WHAT I do to dhcpagent it INSISTS on rewriting
    /etc/resolv.conf to a value that doesn't work

    - My solution was to rm -rf /etc/dhcp
    - I have all of #opensolaris aghast at my solution although they kind
      of acknowledge that whilst it's awful it works
      : Also I'm not the only one in this boat

4. Working out how to set static IPs on GNU/Solaris is proving to be
    utterly painful

    - #opensolaris are all doing a "RTFM"
    - google is turning every manual up except:
      a) a right one
      b) a correct one
      c) one where "f" means "fine" rather than "f...d"

5. Sun's proprietary compiler and GCC won't link libraries sensibly with
    each other all the time

    - hence GNU/Solaris (which builds against GCC) won't necessarily run
      things compiled by Sun themselves sensibly, most notably:


6. GNU/Solaris' apt repository isn't as extensive as Debian GNU/Linux or
    perhaps even Ubuntu's

That said, what I really like is:

1. Things are starting to BREAK again

    - going on the virtual journey to FIX them is fun (I'm a hacker at

2. Having an Ubuntu/GNU userland and a Solaris kernel and some services,
    will, I hope ease me into finally installing a "Real Solaris" (!)

3. Whilst the #opensolaris community at irc.freenode.net can be slightly
    RTFM'ish, so long as you look like you've attempted to read the
    manual but can't work out what the world it means, they're really
    quite helpful

4. I get "dtrace", "zones" and "zfs"

    - w00t - now what the @!#!@ are they?

Anyway, I'm just waffling on. I suppose.


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