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OpenSolaris 2008.11 Released, Reviewed

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  • Mostly Positive (Score:5, Informative)

    by javacowboy (222023) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @04:55PM (#26065719)

    I installed it on my 2nd PC (1st is a Mac). Since I hadn't partitioned my hard drive, I dared to install it over my Ubuntu installation, even though the Live CD didn't detect my ethernet card. It wasn't much of a risk, since I hadn't been using my 2nd PC over the last few months.

    Since then, I haven't looked back. I found the driver for my network card on the vendor's site and installed it. It worked right away. After that, I was ready to roll.

    I had run the previous version within a VM, and found it to be severely lacking. The newest version is much improved.

    The package manager, although not yet perfect, is far more usable. It's possible to add new repositories from the GUI, and the performance is much improved. There's a GUI update manager, so that OS updates install more easily. Compiz runs really smoothly, and it's just generally more stable. I haven't tried Time Slider yet, but I've heard really good things about it. It has the latest version of Java installed, and the JDK and Netbeans are but a few clicks away. Overall, it's just feels snappier and crisper.

    Granted, there are still annoying kinks to be worked out. The available packages still pale in comparison to Ubuntu.

    Also, the community is pretty good. The opensolaris.com forum has been responsive.

    • by Carnildo (712617)

      Is it yet ready for use on Sun hardware? As of six months ago, if you had a Sparc-based system without an OS, you'd be much better off installing Linux or *BSD on it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by armanox (826486)
        The sparc port of OpenSolaris is still in progress. There are other flavor's of solaris that run on Sparc hardware though.
    • The fact that you can go to a vendor site and download drivers and not have to recompile your kernel totally makes my day.

  • For anyone that's actually downloaded and played with it, are there actually any benefits to openSolaris from your normal Linux distro (Redhat/Ubuntu/Whatever) besides zfs?
    • Re:I'm curious (Score:4, Informative)

      by javacowboy (222023) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:01PM (#26065813)

      Here's a list of new features in the latest release:

      http://www.opensolaris.com/learn/features/whats-new/200811/ [opensolaris.com]

      • Re:I'm curious (Score:4, Interesting)

        by liquidpele (663430) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:08PM (#26065905) Journal
        Hmm, looks like the only real differences are the kernels at this point.
        • Re:I'm curious (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anthony_Cargile (1336739) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:32PM (#26066249) Homepage
          True. I installed OpenSolaris (after years of experience with "plain" Solaris/SunOS) on my personal laptop next to Windows XP, Ubuntu 8.04, Mac OS X Leopard (hackintosh) and Fedora whatever-it-was-at-the-time, and I could not tell them apart graphically, or as far as applications go unless I was at a command line.

          OpenSolaris comes with the original lex, flex, and similar vintage goodies (and their source), but honestly in a non-networked environment, I could give a rip about installing it over Ubuntu or PCLinux OS at this point, I'm afraid.

          I would, however, support installing it in a networked environment because of Sun's support for NFS (or sshfs rather) and NIS (/kerberos) right out of the box, something open source systems OpenSolaris tends to copy have yet to completely master (don't read into that too much, I know there is a thing called "design patterns").

          On my laptop, though, I uninstalled it after about a week and slapped "plain" Solaris 10 in its place, for both nostalgia with CDE and a fresh look with JDE and an even better set of built in tools. I love open source software, but as far as Solaris preferences go, I like sun's current Solaris 10 over OpenSolaris currently, and the fact most of the FOSS operating systems are starting to become cookie cutter-like is not helping.

          I know this may be just what the FOSS community doesn't want to hear, but it just provides room for improvement given the standard the original Solaris set for me (and Fedora will never be quite as hardened as RHEL ;).
      • er, why should i care about COMSTAR? given that its the only feature not in your standard linux distro

      • by greg_barton (5551)

        They're including Eclipse! I'm in. :)

    • Re:I'm curious (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:11PM (#26065935)

      For anyone that's actually downloaded and played with it, are there actually any benefits to openSolaris from your normal Linux distro (Redhat/Ubuntu/Whatever) besides zfs?

      1) SMF - replaces init scripts and is much more sophisticated. You can declare service dependencies, startup order, what to do when it fails to start, etc. It also has nice command line tools to start/stop/monitor services.

      2) Containers & Resource Manager : you can run an application such as Oracle in a completely secure container. If it is compromised (ie root access) it can't hurt the root zone or other containers on the system. Resource manager lets you tell the system to give these 2 cpu cores to this container, 1 core to that container, etc. You can divy up memory to specific containers, set network and disk IO quotas, etc.

      3) DTrace - there are tools with dozens of pre-written dtrace scripts and visualizations to help you peer into running production applications without having to restart, without having to use debug symbols, a profiler, etc. It doesn't affect performance of production apps. Plus, Sun has added hundreds or thousands of dtrace probes into postgres, mysql, glassfish, java, solaris kernel, etc. to give you great visibility.

      4) zfs - i'm sure you've heard a lot about it. Another neat thing you can do with it is give a zfs "partition" to a zone, and let the administrator of a zone manage it however he/she wants to without giving them access to manage zfs for other zones.

      5) server performance is supposed to be better than linux. For example, they improved TCP/IP stack performance by over 300% in solaris 10

      6) Cost. For the same level of support, it's cheaper than Windows and RedHat.

      • this is my understanding (and some more)- basically that solaris is more useful as a server and less interesting as a desktop. at least, that's what i used to use solaris for.. back when you still had to pay for it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Jack9 (11421)

          Solaris was considered a "server" OS when their hardware was epic. Now they aren't much better or worse, imo.

          OSX and Solaris both have dtrace, which is a truly invaluable runtime debugging tool.

          OpenSolaris is attempting to take the best ideas from everyone else's desktop initiatives and to implement them similarly or better. Good for them.

        • I'm curious, too: when is the Year of Solaris on the Desktop?

          • by Haeleth (414428)

            2006, for me, since I've been using a Solaris desktop daily since then. A real one, with a SPARC inside and all. It's not as bad as you might think. I even switched from Gnome to Xfce at home once I discovered how much better CDE's 2D desktop-oriented design is compared to the inefficient 1D task-bar-oriented design that Gnome and KDE inexplicably copy from Windows.

            (Shame that Sun's deprecated CDE and chosen Gnome to replace it. Restricting main menu access to a corner of the screen, and minimised windo

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      I think ZFS is probably a very big advantage for some. Add in Containers and DTrace and you have some pretty nice features.

    • Solaris is the Sysadmin's Friend. It does high-end stuff far more robustly than Linux. Desktop, not so much, but they're trying.
    • Sun's X client has display postscript support.

      • I think you mean X server, not client, and last time I checked only Solaris Express came with XDPS support - OpenSolaris didn't (a shame, but not even GNUstep uses it anymore, so probably won't be missed by anyone who doesn't have old OpenStep programs from Solaris 7).
      • by Haeleth (414428)

        Sun's X client has display postscript support.

        Indeed it does, but does OpenSolaris include Xsun? I thought it only included the Xorg server, which is exactly the same on OpenSolaris as it is on GNU/Linux or any other platform.

  • just to run on a box that didn't have thousands of ready-to-run exploits pinging you every hour? from TFA:

    If you are doing any kind of development that reaches outside of Sun's ecosystem, then you are much better off on Linux. If you are doing Java development with Netbeans, then the OpenSolaris repository has you totally covered.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:36PM (#26066311)

    (Open)Solaris is neat, I'm a die hard Solaris fan when it comes to servers. And sure, ZFS is pretty neat with regards to its capabilities. It can save expand, shrink, create snapshots, reroll them and so on. All in all it is indeed a pretty amazing filesystem, extremely flexible and its almost suited for full serious use.

    EXCEPT one very important feature and I can't believe that so many people seem perfectly willing to disregard the whole issue as a non-issue...

    When oh when will we be able to create *useable* external backups on ZFS? I'm well aware that you can dump a ZFS snapshot to stdout and then do whatever you like with it (dump it on tape, dump it on another box using an SSH tunnel, or even dump it to /dev/null ;-)) but thats exactly my point. This is absolutely not the usefull way to backup your data externally.

    Because once you need to restore this data (Mr. Doe lost a very important file 2 weeks ago, only noticed it today and needs to be restored ASAP) your only option on ZFS will be to import the whole damned snapshot again. I dunno about you but I am *not* too thrilled about having to import a whole homedir slice just to restore one frickin file. I think its really a major drag that with an filesystem which is praised to be "enterprise worthy" it still lacks a simple but useful backup tool like dump/restore.

    And yes: I'm well aware that the ZFS crowd is probably going to get back to "if you need a solid backup you should buy good software" or (IMO even worse:) "whats stopping you from using tar". Thats really missing the whole point here... An enterprise based filesystem, open sourced and all, and it can't even do something as simple which ext2, ext3, xfs and yes; even UFS could do for YEARS?

    So... Cool, opensolaris has a timeslider. As long as they aim this at the end user I'll fully agree that its pretty neat and amazing. But I sure hope that Sun doesn't leave their faithful admins standing in the cold. As long as this issue isn't covered my servers remain on UFS. Sun; DO SOMETHING!

    • When oh when will we be able to create *useable* external backups on ZFS? I'm well aware that you can dump a ZFS snapshot to stdout and then do whatever you like with it (dump it on tape, dump it on another box using an SSH tunnel, or even dump it to /dev/null ;-)) but thats exactly my point. This is absolutely not the usefull way to backup your data externally.

      If you work on a *nix based system, but can't see the value of pipes why are you working on a *nix system? It's so easy a fanboi could do it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by larry bagina (561269)

      Why not pair up a zfs send with a zfs receive to make an external backup? Then mount the external backup snapshot as needed?

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Well for backups you could try this http://www.bacula.org/en/ [bacula.org]

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You do NOT have to restore the entire snapshot..

      say you have a zpool named zed, that automagically mounts at *you guessed it* /zed.

      cd /zed/.zfs/snapshot

      ls

      (see the names of all the snapshots that have been taken)...

      cd into the one that has your file, get to your files location within the snapshot, cp {filename} /zed/path/to/original/file

      there you have it - you've restored the file from the snapshot...

      you can even take snapshots, mount them in other locations, and run netbackup or other 3rd party backup utili

      • by axle_512 (199903)

        +1 for parent.

        zfs send and receive are not good to use in enterprise solutions for the reasons stated here:
        http://www.solarisinternals.com/wiki/index.php/ZFS_Best_Practices_Guide#ZFS_Backup_.2F_Restore_Recommendations

        Instead, do what the parent poster said... once you have your snapshot, tar the directory and send it to tape or to your remote system. Need to restore 1 file? No problem. What if part of the snapshot is corrupt? You should still be able to get at most of the data. The whole snap is not lo

    • This is also my issue with ZFS. I've played with it a little but find the available methods for back-up restore to be VERY cumbersome. I am not interested in creating "file systems" for each and every user and trying to manage them all.

      So I too am staying with UFS (and VxFS) for the time being.

    • by mritunjai (518932)

      And yes: I'm well aware that the ZFS crowd is probably going to get back to "if you need a solid backup you should buy good software" or (IMO even worse:) "whats stopping you from using tar". Thats really missing the whole point here... An enterprise based filesystem, open sourced and all, and it can't even do something as simple which ext2, ext3, xfs and yes; even UFS could do for YEARS?

      Pray tell me how does "ext2, ext3, xfs and even UFS" do backups ? Do they have backup and restore integrated and if yes w

    • by tyen (17399)
      We're planning a migration off of ext3 to zfs for our data, and we use IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for backups, which provides a way to back up and restore individual files using a ZFS snapshot [ibm.com] as a reference point. I would imagine other backup software support a similar feature. Is this the kind of external backup support you are talking about, or something more extensive?
  • Fedora recently claimed [slashdot.org] that it would take $10B+ to re-build it from scratch. Given that OpenSolaris came from Solaris/Unix, how much more stable/solid is it, as compared to the Linux kernel? Also, I bet there are more Open Source apps that have yet to be 'ported' to it. No empirical data - just a thought...
  • by argent (18001) <peter@slashdot.2 ... com minus physic> on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:20PM (#26066875) Homepage Journal

    Apple's user interfaces are generally... OK, and at least consistent. Time Machine's user interface is bloody awful, useless, and (of course) completely inconsistent with everything else in the system including Dashboard, Spaces, and Expose ... the previous trio of user-interface standards busters that at least seemed to be moving towards a common meta-interface.

    TimeSlider is much better. No big fancy 3d interface, just a slider in a folder you can drag forward and back... without abandoning the desktop. And the way Apple *implements* Time Machine that functionality would be rather easy to implement.

    Oh well. Apple never forgives someone making them look bad, and they never back down on bad UI, so we won't see this in Snow Leopard. :p

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)

      Apple's user interfaces are generally... OK, and at least consistent

      I know English is a difficult language, but I believe the correct conjugation you were looking for is 'were'. Since 10.2, Apple's interfaces have been progressively less consistent, and focussed on form more than function. They used to manage good UIs that also looked good, but this hasn't been the case for a while.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by argent (18001)

        I know English is a difficult language, but I believe the correct conjugation you were looking for is 'were'.

        No, I mean "are". And I mean "OK", not "good".

        They used to manage good UIs that also looked good, but this hasn't been the case for a while.

        Apple's UI has never struck me as being particularly good. They're OK. The best thing about them is the consistency... for software you're supposed to use on our desktop, even in their worst UI excesses they have been far more consistent than most. Front Row dive

    • TimeSlider is much better. No big fancy 3d interface, just a slider in a folder you can drag forward and back... without abandoning the desktop. And the way Apple *implements* Time Machine that functionality would be rather easy to implement.

      This is something I completely agree with. Time Machine is more of a marketing 'application' than either a good technology or an interface to the technology. Why Apple thought they needed a cumbersome Application just to have access to backed up data is rather insane.

      T

      • time machine isn't just finder. Applications can support it too. If you open time machine while running Address Book, you can browse and restore previous contact information.

        • by argent (18001)

          That still doesn't excuse the horrible user interface.

        • time machine isn't just finder. Applications can support it too. If you open time machine while running Address Book, you can browse and restore previous contact information

          Neither is 'Previous Versions' in Vista...

          However, for looking at 'folders' the OpenSolaris interface and the 'Previous Versions' interface of Vista are both superior to Time Machine, in addition to be technically superior as they have FS level support for on the HD tracking of changes to the files in real-time, no backups needed, but ba

          • by argent (18001)

            "a solid FS like ZFS that FINALLY competes with NTFS in performance and features"

            It's a pity that NTFS still doesn't compete with UFS for stability and reliability. Vista STILL has to defragment the damn thing. Oh, it's got lots of bells and whistles, but the main advantage of bells-and-whistles file systems is application lock-in... and that's an advantage for the vendor, not the customer. That's part of the VMS legacy in NT, and not something to be proud of.

            Speaking of bells and whistles, it's a pity that

            • It's a pity that NTFS still doesn't compete with UFS for stability and reliability. Vista STILL has to defragment the damn thing

              Fragment, gasp, you mean just like ZFS?

              This is a 'mild' direct side effect of the 'copy on write' feature of the FS and ALL FS technologies that have true 'copy on write' abilities.

              Go look it up...

              Even FSs without 'copy of write' features become fragmented.(Like the newest UFS incarnations and HFS+) It is impossilbe for a FS to remain completely unfragmented without sacrificing mas

              • by argent (18001)

                This is a 'mild' direct side effect of the 'copy on write' feature of the FS and ALL FS technologies that have true 'copy on write' abilities.

                Even if you don't use this feature you still have significant fragmentation problems on NTFS.

                And there's all kinds of situations where you don't want to use snapshots and versioning.

                Like file-level caches, such as Internet Explorer and other browsers on Windows use extensively, and which turn into huge fragmentation sources on NTFS.

                UFS doesn't need frequent defragment

  • I was looking for a torrent, figuring that the servers would be dead.

    I'm pulling 2.5Mb/sec right now

    Nevermind...it's done.

  • Nice version name (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @10:32PM (#26069577) Homepage Journal

    Version 2008.11

    How could it be any simpler? It's the november 2008 version.

    No "Vista", "Leopard" or "Feisty Fawn" (geeze, wtf is that one).

    Congratulations on using a version number that anyone can understand.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Version 2008.11

      How could it be any simpler? It's the november 2008 version.

      No "Vista", "Leopard" or "Feisty Fawn" (geeze, wtf is that one).

      Congratulations on using a version number that anyone can understand.

      This is Sun Microsystems we're talking about.

      Rest assured, the demise of any understandable paradigm is merely a reorg away from eternal oblivion.

      • by FunkyELF (609131)
        Yeah, Sun has been known to do it before. Went from Java 1.4 to Java 5 but it still had 1.5 all over the place. Same with 1.6 / 6.
        Can't be as bad as Python though. Went from 2.6 to 3000.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by paziek (1329929)

      Ubuntu is actually using version naming like:
      08.10
      with means 2008 year, 10 month
      08.04
      with means 2008 year, 4 month
      Intrepid Ibex/Hardy Heron is just.. for people that find it easier to remember those that way?

    • by logixoul (1046000)
      In my office we use Ubuntu 8.04, 6.10 and 6.04. I can't for the life of me tell you the names of those, and I regularly stumble when looking for packages etc. And I'm a geek...
  • Is it just me, or are the majority of the comments over on the Ars Technica article (and yes, some here too) just kind of stupid? What annoys me the most is Linux users complainng: "Why aren't you working on our projects instead of doing your own thing?" I think people are missing some important, basic facts:

    1) Sun doesn't have an interest in promoting linux, to some degree they have an interest in supporting open source projects portable to any unix-like OS, but not in particular Linux. Linux in fact com

  • I have just installed it on an old PC (2.8G CPU and 512M mem) yesterday. The installation procedure is easy and smooth. And the hardwares are well supported except the network card, a marvell yukon 88E8001 card. Fortunately, the device driver utility provided by the livecd succesfully detected it and pointed out where the 3rd part driver can be obtained. The driver's installation script, however, has some problems. As a result, I still have to manually run update_drv with correct paramter after install
  • I hope u arn't still using iscsi cus it dont work!

Real computer scientists don't comment their code. The identifiers are so long they can't afford the disk space.

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