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Solaris Express is the latest version of SunOS, which draws its roots from BSD 4.1. In fact Solaris Express is actually "SunOS release 5.11 version snv_27." Over the years Sun Microsystems has put in a great deal of work building on the original Unix code base by introducing more features as well as improving the overall security of the operating system. Until a few years back, Solaris enjoyed a major share of the commercial Unix market with many enterprises opting to run it on their servers. But the popularity of GNU/Linux gradually started eating up the market share of most Unix flavors, including Solaris. Last year, with an eye on regaining the lost ground, Sun finally opened up the code of Solaris and released it as OpenSolaris under Sun's Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL).
Solaris Express is the developmental version of Solaris built using the OpenSolaris code and has a release cycle of 6 months. The most recent version is 1/06; it is made available for free download but Sun provides technical support for an annual subscription fee of $99 which allows one to use it in a commercial setup. Solaris Express is released for both Intel and Sparc platforms.Installation details
I have been using Sun Solaris for the past year but it was only recently that I decided to download and try out the latest developmental version. I downloaded all five CD images from their website with an aim of installing the OS on my PC. Out of the five CDs, the first one is the installation CD, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th contain the software and the last CD contains the multi-language pack.
You can install Solaris using either the GUI installer or the text installer. The computer on which I was installing Solaris was a Pentium IV 2.0 GHz, 256 MB DDR RAM PC. For using the GUI installer though, the minimum requirement is 350 MB RAM. I suspect this high memory usage could be because the GUI installer has been created using the Java language. Keeping these constraints in mind, I opted for the text installation method.
The first job of the installer is to collect system information, such as the choice of language, whether to use services like LDAP, NIS, or Kerberos authentication, the date and time settings, networking, root password and so on. After this, you are provided with two choices of installation. Them being :
I chose the standard installation and, after the obligatory license agreement, I was provided the option of installing additional software. In fact, you can opt to install the full Solaris 10 documentation, a set of early access software, the Java Enterprise System and publicly available tools and utilities which will complement the Solaris environment. I was also given the choice of installing all the software or a subset of it targeted at different user groups like developers, end-users or a bare bones networking core installation tailored for gateways.
Solaris Express insists on being installed on a primary partition and it takes up space of around 4.4 GB to install the entire distribution including the OEM support. But, as noted above, the user is given the choice of installing just a subset of the packages, in which case the space utilized will be less. I already had a primary partition lying vacant and so I did not have to go through the hassle of repartitioning my hard disk. That said, the fdisk utility which the installer provides to partition one's hard disk is quite easy to use.
Once the partitioning has been completed, the copying of system files takes place and then the system is rebooted. Solaris Express automatically detected the Windows XP OS on my machine and accordingly configured and installed the GRUB boot loader. It failed to recognize the Linux and FreeBSD systems installed in other partitions on my hard disk though.
Solaris Express is foremost an operating system designed to be used as a server system. Sun has, however, tried to make it more user friendly on the desktop by bundling the Java Desktop System, which is based on GNOME but with a layer of Java underneath. The Java Desktop System is really slick and is a pleasure to use. It contains almost all the GUI tools and software that come with GNOME 2.6 as well as a few others like Star Office 7 and system configuration tools like the Java Desktop System Configuration Manager, which provides user settings as well as the ability to lock down user desktop systems. I really liked the Sun Control Station which is a GUI tool for such jobs as software updating, resolving dependencies and monitoring the health of the system just to name a few.Unique strengths of Solaris Some of the advantages of Solaris Express over its predecessors (Solaris 9 and down) are as follows:
If those are the strengths of Solaris, then it has its own set of drawbacks too. I found the memory requirements for using the graphical installer of Solaris Express quite high when compared with those of Red Hat or SuSE. The hardware compatibility is some thing which needs to be improved and, even though it detected most of the devices on my Intel machine, its hardware support is nowhere near that supported by Linux. No doubt, Solaris has a lot of strengths as a server system, but it needs to improve on the variety of hardware support and bring down the minimum memory requirements for using the graphical installer
New ReleasesGentoo Linux in the 2006 series has been released. "Major highlights in the release include KDE 3.4.3, GNOME 2.12.2, XFCE 4.2.2, GCC 3.4.4 and a 2.6.15 kernel. This is also the first release with the Gentoo Linux Installer officially debuting on the x86 LiveCD, which will fully replace the Universal and PackageCD set. The LiveCD also features a fully-fledged Gnome environment. Later releases will include KDE support as well as a new LiveDVD." Plus improvements across many architectures including PPC64, PPC, EM64T, Alpha and SPARC. new beta was released March 1. NexentaOS, a GNU/Solaris distribution, has released a third alpha release. This release includes OpenOffice 2.0, and lots more. Beta5 is still for the adventurous experts and not for anybody without a good Linux experience."
Distribution NewsMindawn, an open platform for digital content, with Mandriva Linux 2006. Ubuntu-Women mailing list has been announced (click below). "This list is meant for all Ubuntu users, volunteers, developers and for those who wish to involve more women in the Ubuntu community." FUDCon Delhi 2006 was held February 9, 2006. The website now has the presentations, reports and pictures available.
Distribution NewslettersFedora Weekly News has articles on Announcing Fedora Core 5 Test 3, Attention: Proprietary video driver users, FUDCon Delhi 2006 Report, FOSDEM 2006 Report, Nrpms.net ReadMe, Review: Fedora Core 5 Benchmarks, Red Hat offers Linux eye candy alternative, and more. Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for February 27, 2006 covers the release of Gentoo Linux 2006.0, a FOSDEM report, the 3rd European Gentoo Developer Meeting, request for help on Bugday, Gentoo on display in Chemnitz again, and several other topics. DistroWatch Weekly for February 27, 2006 is out. "Written entirely by Robert Storey, this week's issue looks ahead at the upcoming 64-bit Mini-ITX processors, passes on a link to a freely downloadable copy of The Complete FreeBSD, and investigates "bcrypt" and "dm-crypt", the much-loved encryption utilities for the paranoid. In the first looks section, Robert investigates the newest OpenBSD-based live CDs - OliveBSD."
Package updatesgnbd-kernel (updated GFS & Cluster Suite packages for kernel-2.6.15-1.1831_FC4), cman-kernel (updated GFS & Cluster Suite packages for kernel-2.6.15-1.1831_FC4), dlm-kernel (updated GFS & Cluster Suite packages for kernel-2.6.15-1.1831_FC4), GFS-kernel (updated GFS & Cluster Suite packages for kernel-2.6.15-1.1831_FC4), module-init-tools (minor fixes), udev (bug fixes), gnupg (fix a keyring read error), gawk (bug fix), util-linux (bug fix). bind, iptables, kernel, logrotate, mc, opencdk, openssh, smartmontools and the kernel.
Newsletters and articles of interesttests several Linux distributions on an old, under-powered Pentium II PC. "It's worth mentioning that Linux is also a great option for putting old non-x86 hardware to use. I have a few old Sun UltraSPARC 10 machines with 256MB of RAM that run Debian Linux just fine. I also have an old, green iMac that runs Debian and other PowerPC distros well enough -- but Windows isn't an option for those machines at all. If you want to make the best of old hardware, processor speed is much less important than RAM for Linux. If you can't afford a new machine, but can afford to max out your RAM, you'll see much better performance. I wouldn't recommend running a Linux desktop with less than 64MB of RAM, and 128MB is enough for most applications."
Distribution reviewstakes a quick look at Gentoo 2006.0. "IBM spokesperson John E. Charlson confirmed that IBM provided the Gentoo.org team with a POWER5 Open Power 720, which is hosted by the Oregon State University Open Source Lab, osuosl.org. Charlson noted that IBM has also worked with Gentoo to provide discounts to a couple key PPC maintainers on 970-based (64-bit) Apple Quads. Charlson also explained how IBM sees Gentoo is optimized for POWER5. According to Charlson, Gentoo creates "stages" that are downloaded as source by the user to be run on a particular architecture. These stages are then compiled on the users box." covers the 64 Studio distribution, which includes many audio applications. "Most of the packages in 64 Studio come from the unofficial Pure 64 port of Debian testing, with some from Ubuntu, some from DeMuDi and some custom built. A more obvious choice might be Red Hat, given that many of the high end (which is to say expensive) proprietary tools used in Hollywood studios and elsewhere are sold as binary-only Red Hat packages. However, the split between Red Hat Enterprise and Fedora Core presents serious problems for any derived distribution. You could rebuild Red Hat Enterprise from source as long as you removed all Red Hat trademarks, but that's a lot of extra work -- and you'd have to follow Red Hat's agenda for its distribution, which you couldn't have any input to." hears from a SUSE fan. "I'm a student, and I use my computer mainly for word processing, surfing the Internet, listening to music, and watching videos. I am also a musician, and have set up a small home studio around my computer. For years I used Windows, but I wasn't happy with the software or Microsoft's marketing strategies. After moving to SUSE 10.0, I am quite satisfied."
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