Occasional thoughts and updates from an Oracle Engagement Cloud UX Designer

  • November 9, 2011

What's new on the Solaris 11 Desktop?

Calum Benson
Principal User Experience Developer

Much has been written today about the enterprise and cloud features of Oracle Solaris 11, which was launched today, but what's new for those of us who just like to have the robustness and security of Solaris on our desktop machines? Here are a few of the Solaris 11 desktop highlights:

  • GNOME 2.30: It may not be the bleeding-edge GNOME 3, but GNOME 2.30 is the most stable version of GNOME ever released, and has many improvements over GNOME 2.6 as found in Solaris 10.
  • X.org 1.10.3: See Alan's blog for details of this X server update.
  • Updated Firefox and Thunderbird: Solaris 11 ships with Firefox 6.0.2 and Thunderbird 6.0.2 from Mozilla.
  • Compiz: Solaris 11 uses this compositing window manager by default, enhancing the desktop experience with judicious use of customizable effects such as translucency, drop shadows and transition animations. (Not supported on all graphics cards, which will fall back automatically to the metacity window manager.)
  • Package Manager: IPS is the new package management system in Solaris 11, and it has a full-featured GUI that allows you to quickly browse and install new packages, or perform a live update of your entire OS in a couple of clicks, safe in the knowledge that it can be rolled back to a previous version just as quickly in the event of any problems.
  • Time Slider: Making its debut in OpenSolaris, the Time Slider feature that allows you take automatic, periodic ZFS snapshots and explore them in your file manager application now also allows you to make backups to removable media and network devices.
  • Network Auto Magic GUI: Allows configuration of the NWAM subsystem, including creation, editing and switching of network profiles and locations.
  • Visual Panels: A suite of GUI tools for system administration tasks, such as configuring firewall and SMF services.
  • GParted: The venerable Linux graphical disk partitioning tool, now ported to Solaris and included on the Live CD.
  • CUPS: The lp printing subsystem has been removed, and Solaris 11 now uses the open source *nix printing technology from Apple, with the same system-config-printer GUI found in several Linux distros.

Solaris 11 is free to download and use for most non-commercial purposes (but IANAL, so do check the OTN License Agreement on the download page first -- it's short and sweet, as these things go), and you can download various flavours, including a Live CD and a USB install image, right here.

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Comments ( 2 )
  • Lubos Kocman Thursday, November 10, 2011

    How about to provide more non-desktop oriented information since Oracle drop the desktop ;-) I'm going to write review as well and I'd definitely include at least extended smf configuration/support + new things in ZFS and changes in Zones. And stuff like dropping oo.org from IPS repo (If I'm right) ...

  • Calum Benson Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Hi Lubos,

    Well, I work in the Solaris desktop team, so that's the area I know best. And I realized it wasn't getting much attention in the launch frenzy yesterday, so I wanted to put that right :)

    There's a lot of information about all the other new features in the Solaris 11 section of oracle.com -- for the best overview, see the "What's New" document in the Solaris 11 Documentation library: http://download.oracle.com/docs/cd/E23824_01/index.html

    Also check out the blog posts from other Solaris bloggers, who I'm sure will be writing more about the new features in the coming days: https://blogs.oracle.com/main/tags/solaris

    As for OpenOffice, you're correct. Oracle no longer fund or develop OpenOffice, so it's really up to the new project leaders (the Apache Software Foundation) to provide Solaris packages in future, if they wish.

    Thanks for your interest!

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