I have been using OpenSolaris instead of Ubuntu on my IBM T43 laptop over the past month. I use that machine to debug gtk2 Firefox and to browse and write email while I’m sitting in my living room. Most of the time I used OpenSolaris NV build 81, for the past couple days I used build 82. I didn’t notice anything different between build 82 and 81 that I care about, so my comments here apply to both.
Install is easy. The setup screens are easy to get through, no glitches. All of the hardware that I care about works fine, including wireless. The one thing I did after my first login is disable the sendmail service via the Services control panel. That gave me a slightly faster boot time, I don’t care about sendmail.
For editing code I used Sun Studio. It was easy to configure Sun Studio to be a straight-forward code editor, I do my debugging and most other things in the terminal so I don’t care about the project management features. Sun Studio worked really well for my purposes.
With a build environment and a good IDE I was perfectly happy doing my Mozilla work on Solaris. When I’m not writing code for or debugging Firefox, the only app I use is Firefox. The default install of Firefox works just fine for my web browsing and email-writing needs (I use gmail).
There are some things that bothered me during my experience. In order of how much I care…
- When logging in, gnome’s volume manager and its battery monitor crash every time. This means I have to click through a bunch of crash dialogs every time I log in. Really annoying and it makes me nervous, but as far as I can tell it has no affect on my getting stuff done after the dialogs are gone.
- There is no easy way to update your OpenSolaris NV install (that I know of). I have to download the new build iso (> 3gb) before I can update. Why can’t I just pull the new packages via software update and not have to deal with a huge iso?
- NWAM (Network Auto-Magic) has incomplete UI. If you don’t have an ethernet cable plugged in it’ll throw up UI for selecting a wireless network, but once you’re connected to the network you can’t switch networks easily via UI. There is no pull-down menu or anything like that as there is on Mac OS X. Apparently they are working on it.
- It is hard to find a complete changelog for OpenSolaris builds, so I never know if I should care to install a new build. There is something of a changelog here.
Updated: Updated my updating complaint based on new info. Added more changelog info, got rid of the crash reporter complaint since it isn’t specific to OpenSolaris which is confusing.