Laptops

After advancing the state of Solaris on the Ferrari 3400 with frkit, someone suggested that I should one of all new laptops we at Sun may decide to standardize on. That's how it came to be that I now have both a Ferrari 3400 and a Ferrari 4000.

But today in the mail, I got a message telling me of yet another laptop heading my way. This time a lightweight Fujitsu s2110, again a AMD64 based laptop, as those are the ones we like best.

Perhaps should I make a plot of laptops I got and when and then see if I can estimate the curve; I think I got one in '96, one in 2000, another one in dec 2004 and then again 6 months later and yet again 3 months later; with this accelerating pace it'd be one a day at christmas and one per hour early next year. Hm, perhaps not likely.

Solaris keeps on improving rapidly when it comes to device support; and while in the laptop space things appear to be moving forward very rapidly, there also appears to be some gravitating toward common chipsets. Graphics are often an issue but the fact that the Ferrari 4000 comes with a ATI X700 has the consequence that the updating of the Xorg ati driver is done much more quickly than before.

The Ferrari 3400 is relatively well supported in S10, though I think you really need my powernow driver and even then it still runs fairly hot to the touch.

The Ferrari 4000 requires some external drivers, but then, so does most bleeding hardware, regardless of OS. For the Ferrari 4000, you'll need to download the ethernet driver "bcme" from broadcom.com and we're working hard on getting OSS sound to work nicely on it. The 4000 runs much cooler than the 3400, but the downside is that it always has its fan blowing, albeit quitely. Probably because of a device enumeration bug, the firewire does not yet work. The SD card reader is a special device and we do not support it, unfortunately.

Of course, we're working on getting our broadcom ethernet driver "bge" and the one by broadcom "bcme" to be merged and shipped as a single driver.

Cardbus support is coming for all laptops, as the cardbus interface is properly standardized and they all work more or less the same.

I haven't gotten the Fujitsu yet, so I can't tell how well that will run and/or whether tweaking is necessary.

I don't like to recommend any particular brand or kind of laptop; one recommendation which I can make is this: run Solaris Express on it. It will get all the laptop features you may want much sooner. Such features include new drivers, Xorg support for new hardware, ACPI support, newboot, bug fixes (in some cases the difference between a device working and not working is just a small fix in an existing driver).

S10 was a huge leap forward and brought Solaris for x86/x64 to a point where it again runs on lots of (server) hardware. In Solaris Express, there is much more room for desktop/laptop innovation. We now ship several different x64 desktop platforms, so the x64 desktop/laptop space has much more visibility inside Sun.

If you want performant OpenGL, the only choice you have now is buying a laptop with an nVidia graphics chip and installing the nVidia "closed source" driver.

On the wireless front, things are moving but slowly, but more soon here. So watch this space.

Bluetooth is still a barren landscape when it comes to Solaris; I can't use the bluetooth rodent that came with the Ferrari 4000 (I'm saying rodent because it's quite a bit bigger than a mouse)

Note: I've just started the laptop-discuss list at opensolaris.org

Comments:

Hoi Casper, Honestly, do you really think S10, even Solaris Express, will be moving fast enough to make it commercially viable in the desktop/laptop space ? Of course, Solaris delivers in the server space, where it belongs and has a strong market place, but where is the 'plug and play' factor ? This you definetely need in the desktop/laptop market space. Users, even IT-people, no longer have the time to download and install drivers, etc, etc ... Solaris WILL have to EXCEED XP and OS X in the desktop/laptop space to make a difference ... We'd better hurry. Freek

Posted by Freek Beekhuis on September 22, 2005 at 05:11 PM MEST #

What frame buffer does the s2110 have? How is the openGl support?

Posted by Marc Hamilton on September 26, 2005 at 07:33 PM MEST #

Hi Casper!

>Solaris WILL have to EXCEED XP and OS X in the
>desktop/laptop space to make a difference ...
>We'd better hurry.

Actually really nice ACPI/Soft-Suspend support would take it a long way... That's sorely missing from Linux anyway so you could easily win some soals there.

You're in for a treat with the Fujitsu NB though ;)

~Jeroen

Posted by Jeroen Roodhart on September 27, 2005 at 01:32 PM MEST #

The initial goal for a Solaris laptop/desktop environment is not to get people to move offer but to give Solaris fans and Sun employees other options than Windows or Linux for their mobile computing.

And is Solaris a server OS? I don't think so; why would we be selling SunRAY if Solaris was a server OS?

There should realy only be one OS; you want to be able to walk around, develop and deploy all on the same platform. That includes the big iron systems but it also includes laptops.

As for the S2110, it has ATI graphics (again) and ATI is not well supported by Xorg; it scrapes by but performance is not stellar. OpenGL without any accelleration. I no whave four ATI based laptops and I yearn fo reither a native ATI driver or a nVidia laptop.

Posted by Casper Dik on October 04, 2005 at 09:58 AM MEST #

What about XiG? Even though it's not free, I find it easily worth the $129. (No xorg config files, dual view, etc.)

Posted by Tim on October 06, 2005 at 12:49 PM MEST #

Hello Casper,
I found your blog while I was browsing Sun's blog lists. It is good to know somebody in Sun tried to make Solaris available on laptops.
I have been using Solaris on SPARC for years and I'm very comfortable with the environment it provides. (I have handful complaints but I can live with them.)
I tried Solaris x86 on PC (PC clone) but my experiences in the past were nothing but disappointment.
Now, I wanted to have Solaris x86 on a laptop (that's why I found your blog). As you know setting up Solaris on a laptop is nothing but "pain".
I understand that Sun doesn't want to sell and support laptops by itself. But, how about talking to laptop manufactures and asking them to sell their products with Solaris loaded?
That sounds to me a win-win-win solution for Sun, laptop manufacture, and end users. I don't want to spend weeks to try out on my laptop.
Can you comment about such possibilities? I know that you are not a marketing guy. BTW, I like IBM (now Lenovo) mainly because of "red nob". So, if you can add IBM to your lists, it would be great.
Thank you for your great work. Aki-

Posted by Aki Niimura on November 01, 2006 at 02:30 PM MET #

Not sure about Solaris and desktop use; certainly not my objective.

Want I do want, and where hopefully Solaris strength lies, is a home server. For this I need CIFS + ZFS, ZFS is here, CIFS is coming. The last hurdle is to get some decent power management on-board. I can't afford, nor do I want, to have the CPU running full throttle pumping out CO2 when the system is idle.

Please, please increase the priority on CPU PowerNow or ACPI or whatever you are calling it now.

Posted by Rocky on January 03, 2008 at 05:42 AM MET #

Just to add that PowerNow is nearly three years down the road and no sign of proper releaseable code in main Solaris.

I'm also using an OS on my laptop that can handle ALL the powermanagement options, then I run Solaris in a virtual machine.

Posted by Rocky on January 03, 2008 at 05:44 AM MET #

The initial goal for a Solaris laptop/desktop environment is not to get people to move offer but to give Solaris fans and Sun employees other options than Windows or Linux for their mobile computing.

And is Solaris a server OS? I don't think so; why would we be selling SunRAY if Solaris was a server OS?

There should realy only be one OS; you want to be able to walk around, develop and deploy all on the same platform. That includes the big iron systems but it also includes laptops.

As for the S2110, it has ATI graphics (again) and ATI is not well supported by Xorg; it scrapes by but performance is not stellar. OpenGL without any accelleration. I no whave four ATI based laptops and I yearn fo reither a native ATI driver or a nVidia laptop.

Posted by LAPTOP BATTERY on November 27, 2008 at 06:29 PM MET #

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