[AUUG-Talk]: More Journeys with OpenSolaris...

David Lloyd lloy0076 at adam.com.au
Fri Jan 12 17:26:59 EST 2007

Hi There,

A few months on and I haven't thrown OpenSolaris away. In fact, I think 
I've come to understand operating systems much more now that I've taken 
the plunge and used one of the eldest ex-proprietary Unix operating 
systems that one can now intall for free.

I'm not sure if the "real" BSD was ever proprietary.

A few notes:


Solaris Community Express Release (SXCR) uses the Gnome desktop. It's a 
very usable instantiation of the Gnome desktop with the latest release 
incorporating most of what one would need.

I would note that I lack a good image viewer such as "gqview". I can, of 
  course, use Nautilus but I seriously, seriously dislike Nautilus. 
Managing my files and such, I still prefer to do via the commandline, 
although interestingly I'm quite happy to manage my Desktop files and 
images with the click and point paradigm.

For general Desktop use, I see no reason why OpenSolaris couldn't just 
replace a Linux. It has all the major browsers (except for Iceweasel ;P) 
and The Gimp, StarOffice 8 [i.e. OpenOffice 2.X], Evolution, Thunderbird 
and the works.

Whilst it can take a while to work out "how" to compile things on 
OpenSolaris -- Sun Studio's and GCC's linkage of C++ libaries/files are 
not compatible and can cause you grief-- anything that's not been made a 
package you can generally just compile.

There's a number of places which give you an "apt/yum" type experience 
as well, such as blastwave (http://www.bastwave.org/).


I've currently taken to developing a Java application. Here's the tools 
that I use:

  * Java 1.6.X
  * Glassfish
  * Jboss 4.0.X
  * Eclipse
  * Netbeans
  * Ant
  * vim (not emacs)

As one might expect, Solaris is a good fit for Java development. With a 
little bit of fiddling you can even get SWT [from IBM] to run natively 
on Solaris...my technique is to "steal" the libraries from Eclipse and 
put them where the system can find them.

Whilst I've not developed any major C or C++ applications on Solaris, I 
would note that Solaris' make and GNU make are not compatible. Working 
out which is "better" appears to be religious flamewar material, however 
one thing I have found is that if a build seems to mysteriously fail and 
it's a GNU or open source thing you're building, take extra steps to 
make certain that GNU make is being used.

I also do PHP development. Because I don't use blastwave -- I decided 
I'd learn more about Solaris if I didn't cheat and use prebuilt packages 
-- I have had to compile PHP5 myself. I also compiled Apache2 myself 
only to discover that Apache2 is part of the SXCR consolidation. MySQL 
release Solaris packages for both x86 and Sparc architectures.

Compiling PHP5 is a PITA. There's too many options but it gets there 
eventually. Getting Apache2 to compile *sensibly* is also a PITA. 
However one gets there eventually.

The one thing that I simply cannot get to behave itself is the LATEST 
version of Subversion. There are Sun blessed subversion packages but 
they're old. Trying to compile Subversion was, for me, a total 
nightmare. Essentially the Sun linker and the GNU linker wouldn't play 
nicely with each other and it wasn't worth the effort.

With Subversion, I cheat. I use Eclipse to manage that.

Oh, that's another thing. Getting Subclipse for Eclipse was looking like 
an absolute nightmare but I chanced upon the actual leader of Easy 
Eclipse (or something like that). He told me that the Linux version 
would probably work [it IS Java after all] ... which it did.

I was really chuffed. Not only did the installer JUST WORK, I managed to 
get help from the guy who actually pilots the whole project. And they 
say that open source support isn't existent...I wonder whether I'd be 
able to get Bill to help my friend next time his computer gets swamped 
by Windows viruses...

I've got it to the point now, where my OpenSolaris is a rock solid, open 
source development environment.


So, now I've got to work out a way to see what OpenSolaris is like as a 
server operating system. It's probably quite good and I've started 
experimenting with containers and zones.

I suppose I'm rambling, but heh, it is the talk list...


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