OpenSolaris 2009.06

Evolution
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird

Multimedia
CD Ripper
Codeina
Rhythmbox Music Player
Totem Movie Player

Office
Dictionary
Evince Document Viewer

Software Management
Package Manager is the tool used to manage software in OpenSolaris. You can access it by simply clicking the Add More Software icon on your desktop. Application categories are broken down into the following categories:

Accessories
Configuration and Preferences
Games
Graphics and Imaging
Internet
Office
Panels and Applets
Plug-ins and Run-times
Sound and Video
System Utilities
Universal Access

Adding or removing software is easy and there’s additional software available in Package Manager that is not installed by default. So be sure to take a few minutes and browse around or do some searches to find useful software.

If you want you can add other repositories to Package Manager by clicking File then Manage Repositories.

If you click the Update All button in Package Manager you can update all of your existing packages. Be aware though that this creates a new default boot environment that consists of the updated packages. So don’t be confused if you restart your system and see the old and new boot environments listed on the bootsplash screen.

Use Package Manager to add or remove software on your system.
Applications are divided into the usual categories in Package Manager.

Sound and Multimedia
I ran into two main problems with OpenSolaris: flash and sound. I’ll talk about sound more in the problems section below.

YouTube & Flash
When I went to YouTube, I noticed that I needed flash. I tried to do the install via Firefox but that didn’t work (not surprising but I figured I’d try it anyway). I googled to find instructions on how to install it in OpenSolaris:

1.Download the Solaris version of flash player to your machine.

2. Untar that file.

3. Open terminal.

4. #su

5. cp libflashplayer.so /usr/lib/firefox/plugins/

6. restart firefox

Once the plug-in was installed, I restarted Firefox and YouTube videos played well but had no sound. More on that below.

Problems & Headaches
The lack of sound was a big problem and I ended up googling to find out a solution to it. I found a helpful blog entry with links to the Open Sound System site where I was able to download the drivers. The blog entry also had a link to a PDF that contained install instructions.

So, after a little bit of work, I was able to get sound working fine on my OpenSolaris system. None of it really should have been necessary though. Sound should work by default as it does for most Linux distros.

One other minor nitpick…I missed having GIMP and OpenOffice.org installed by default. Both were available via Package Manager though. It took just a couple of minutes and I had both of them installed in OpenSolaris.

YouTube videos played well after flash was installed in Firefox.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the OpenSolaris wiki and the OpenSolaris Learn page. If you’re already an experienced Linux user then you might want to read the Migrating to OpenSolaris from Linux page. And be sure to drop by the OpenSolaris forum to connect to other users.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
As I noted earlier, OpenSolaris was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. It’s easy to install and ran very well for me. The biggest drawbacks I ran into were sound problems and lack of flash in Firefox. Both problems were solvable and my overall experience with OpenSolaris was quite good. It was pretty quick and seemed very stable to me. I didn’t run into problematic crashes or anything else that significantly impacted my experience with it.

I recommend OpenSolaris mainly for distrohoppers who are always on the lookout for a cool, new OS to play with on their system. Others may certainly benefit from trying OpenSolaris and I don’t discourage anybody from checking it out. But I don’t think it will be giving Linux Mint or PCLinuxOS a run for their money as anybody’s preferred desktop distro just yet. The sound problems will probably annoy casual users enough to keep them away.

Still, it’s a neat operating system and it’s definitely worth a download for distrohoppers.

Summary Table:

Product:OpenSolaris 2009.06
Web Site:OpenSolaris
Price:Free
Pros:Excellent installer, good selection of software. Fast boot time.
Cons:Flash not installed in Firefox by default. Required sound system package installation.
Suitable For:Distrohoppers and others looking for a new desktop OS to play with and enjoy.
Summary:OpenSolaris is a pleasant alternative to the usual array of Linux distros, Mac OS X and Windows. While it has a few drawbacks, it also provides a significant amount of value for desktop users.Alas, this is clouded by sound problems and the lack of flash inclusion in the install routine. Still, it’s worth a look if you’re a distrohopper or a tinkerer looking for the next OS to play with on your system.
Rating:3.5/5

 

 

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4 thoughts on “OpenSolaris 2009.06

  1. Where OpenSolaris will shine, is as a server OS. Solaris has always been one of the best versions of Unix out there, bar none. It is stable, has one of the very best journaling file systems (ZFS), comes with superb monitoring tools (DTRACE, etc) and is super stable and scalable.

    I worry about what will happen to Solaris and Open Solaris with the Oracle take over. From what I read, Oracle does not seem to have the affection for Solaris that Sun had.

    This is really sad, actually. Some of the Unixes deserve to die, and Linux is definitely the future. However, both Solaris and AIX have been running the back end Enterprises for years! Stability, Security, and Scalability have not been issues with either of these excellent Unix OSes for a decade!

    I wonder what would have happened if Sun had seriously pursued Solaris on x86 back in 2000 and had made the entry price cheap, or better, created Open Solaris back then? I know Sun was making serious money on Solaris/SPARC back then, but if they had an eye out for the future, we may not even be having the Linux verses Unix discussion at all.

  2. The next OpenSolaris release is (hopefully) just around the corner. Since the 2009.06 release they've integrated the OSS drivers for better sound compatibility and enhanced much of the existing features.

    Hardware support is lacking compared to Linux, but that's changing at a decent rate.

  3. i agree with Numpty, being a desktop user does not automatically mean, i am only interested in music players, email clients and games.

    sure, you need this games and stuff to attract users, but opensolaris with its strong engeneering background should be reviewed from the view of a techician.

    What i missed: something about the virtualisation posibilities, for example VirtualBox, wich works flawless on opensolaris.

  4. Pretty bland review. You missed out any of the features unique to Solaris, such as ZFS (and its Time Slider GUI), what boot environments actually are and why they're useful (rather than a brief mention in passing), dtrace, zones etc.

    Incidentally, the best way to install Flash is via the Extras repository at http://pkg.sun.com (which contains this and a bunch of other stuff that isn't freely-distributable), not by downloading tarballs.

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