OpenSolaris: Project Indiana

03 Nov

As you may know Sun announced project Indiana a while ago and they have now released the first developer preview. I tried Solaris a month or so ago and I was than impressed. I heard about Indiana before I tried Solaris so I could only hope that Indiana’s move would be one it a better direction.

I case you haven’t heard of project Indiana here is a summary from the website:

Project Indiana is working towards creating a binary distribution of an operating system built out of the OpenSolaris source code. The distribution is a point of integration for several current projects on, including those to make the installation experience easier, to modernize the look and feel of OpenSolaris on the desktop, and to introduce a network-based package management system into Solaris.

Here is a list of the major projects that make up Indiana:

1. Image Packaging System Documentation
Choose packages from a network repository of Open Solaris packages that are ready for distribution
2. Distribution Constructor
Build an installation image from a package repository for your own distribution
3. Slim Installer/Live CD
Install Solaris quickly from the Live CD desktop
4. Snap Upgrade
Upgrade a copy of the currently running system

Before I really get into this I just have one question. Why Indiana? I live in Indiana so I my first thought was “Cool, we have our own distro of Solaris. Why?”. maybe someone really like Indiana jones (who could blame them) or maybe they like corn. (edit: I just remembered that Ian Murdoc went to Purdue university so that might be why.)

Indiana is greatly improved over the version of Solaris I tried. I could actually use this one. Last time I couldn’t get it to boot completely after installing so I don’t have much to compare this to besides that. Being able to boot a OS is very important it Sun seems to have fixed all the problem from the old version.

This is of course just a developer preview so it has lots of problem that I will mention but won’t complain about until they make it into the final release. However, it also has some really good things that I would like to praise.

1. very easy to install. you just pop in the cd and it does most of the rest for you. Easy means it doesn’t give you very many options which isn’t cool in my book but that will probably improve over time.

2. It has a package manager. I guess before it didn’t have one so it is definitely a good thing they added one. If you have ever used yum, apt-get, macports, portage, etc. then you will probably feel right at home with IPS (image packaging system). to get started using IPS by evoking it with pkg and for more info try man pgk.

1. as is expected it isn’t stable in the least bit.
2. its slow
3. There isn’t much in the repository yet.
4. it is impossible to use dvorak or any other layout other than the default one set for your language. I’m sure it isn’t really impossible but I don’t think I should have to edit a config file so I can type with my desired layout so I’m not going to. This makes Solaris nearly useless to me for any real uses as I don’t know qwerty well enough to touch type.

5. I don’t have permissions to turn off my computer. This one is weird. I’m not sure how something like this doesn’t get fixed before a release even if it is a developer preview release. When I try to shutdown from Gnome I get this error message “User does not have permissions to use gnome-sys-suspend command.” Do all the devs run as root?

I expect most of the bad things to go away so like I said I’m not going to complain about them. I don’t know if Indiana could ever make me want to use Solaris over Linux or BSD but it is an improvement and I will be happy to check out future releases of OpenSolaris. I think that If Sun keeps moving in this direction they could eventually move into the home pc market, but don’t count on it. Now I need to reinstall Fedora…

If you want to check out project Indiana head over there and give it a download.

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Posted by on November 3, 2007 in review


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