First impressions Nexenta "Elatte" debian opensolaris live
By bnitz on Nov 08, 2005
A few miles from here, in Dublin's St. Patrick's Cathedral, there is a door with a hole in it. The story goes that in 1492, while Columbus was out on his spice junket, there was a feud between the Butlers of Ormonde and the Fitzgeralds of Kildare. The Earl of Kildare sought refuge behind this door. The Earl of Ormonde axed a hole in the door... to shake hands with the Earl of Kildare. I don't think the feud between GNU is Not Unix and Unix was ever as severe as the Fitzgerald-Butler fued, but seeing them 'shake hands' on my Nexenta desktop is pretty cool!
Installation notes: This is a live CD alpha so I didn't expect things would work perfectly but I hoped install would work on this Dell GX-170 which has a mysteriously finnickly OEM network card. I saw two errors before accessing the desktop. The first was that gdm was trying to start when it was already started. No problem, I'd rather have it try to start 2 gdms than none! The second was an Internal error popup indicating "failed to initialize HAL!" (I'm sorry Dave....) Installation was slow but the Nexenta website warned me of this. As Peter Tribble noted, the package system is one of the parts of Solaris which may still earn the (increasingly inaccurate) Slowaris title. Since a live CD may have to install many packages on every boot, it doesn't surprise me that this is slow. The install recognized my Intel NIC but not the weird internal Dell OEM NIC. This isn't surprising, this driver isn't yet in the my opensolaris distribution either.
The desktop is based on GNOME 2.12, which has some new features such as 'throbbing' windowlist indicators for applications requiring your attention. The themes and splash screens are pretty and the layout makes sense. I'm accustomed to the single bottom panel of JDS but the launch menu, calendar, show desktop and trash occupy the four easily accessed corners. The menu isn't cluttered, but it doesn't yet contain an office suite. Sun's java, package manager and Solaris Containers (a.k.a zones) aren't available but Evolution 2.3.7 and firefox 1.0.6 are. They start up O.K. and once I set up my proxy, they are able to access the network. Some administration functions don't yet work. The desktop feels somewhat slower than the JDS GNOME 2.12 on OpenSolaris build I was previously using on this box, but it isn't bad considering that this is running from CD.
Treats:Shell connosoirs will be happy to hear that /bin/bash is the default shell! Colour hightlighting is visible in gnome-terminal and /usr/local/bin is in your default PATH. Dtrace is ready to go for those who want to peer into a debian application. The package database is on the CDROM and is read-only, so I wasn't able to experiment with apt-get or the synaptic package manager. For that I'll need to set aside a partition and do a real install, but from what I've seen so far, it will be well worth it!