Wednesday Apr 18, 2007

Google Desktop for Solaris, please

I have Solaris, Ubuntu and Windows XP on my laptop.

Now that I have more of a sales role, I have less need to 'test things', but I still use Ubuntu for VMware to run Sun Ray and SGD demos or to install recent versions of Solaris. As my customers use Windows and my main task is talking about how we deliver a secure and cost-effective Windows desktop, I tend to use Windows as my main desktop, albeit with StarOffice, Firefox and Thunderbird as my main work apps.

I could use all of those apps on Solaris too, but there's one app that I use constantly that isn't available on Solaris - Google Desktop. It simply finds everything I need to find and saves a lot of time searching fruitlessly for that elusive email sent months ago.

Any chance of seeing it on Solaris soon...?

Saturday Feb 11, 2006

Desktop Meeting sum up

As usual, I've left the six monthly Desktop Practice meeting feeling pretty positive about the future of the product line we have and the improvements that are coming into Solaris and JDS to provide a decent desktop experience 'out of the box'. What makes me particularly happy is the increased focus on how best to sell the products that we have. Product quality's never been the main reason why Sun and partner sales teams haven't focused as much as I think they should on the desktop space. The problem's traditionally been more to do with a scattergun approach pushing the message to customers where it doesn't resonate, as opposed to concentrating on those areas where Sun Ray and SGD fit best. Another problem has been the a lack of strightforward sales tools to give the average sales guy something concrete to latch on to and give to his customers to get things going. We've now got some more solutions focused material to plug that gap, covering healthcare and telco, which I'm really looking forward to promoting to the field. On a personal note, it was nice to see some familiar faces, as well as to put a face to Craig Thin Guy Bender's name. I'd known of Craig for several years via internal email aliases. Since rejoining Sun I've had various email exchanges with him, read his blog, etc, etc, but had never met him face to face. As he pointed out in a similar blog entry, we got on well and share a similar sense of humour. We also both have sideburns, a stylish essential found amongst a disproportionally high number of Sun Ray fans around the world that I've met. Another thing we have in common is that his phone got pinched during the week, whilst mine was nicked the week before. Let's hope noone steals his jeans as well over the coming weeks :)

Thursday Jan 05, 2006

Jambo! 2.0 lives on Solaris on x86! But the screenshots below make OpenOffice look just like it does on Linux, you say!? Of course it does, what else did you expect? It's all Open Source, innit? These screenshots are from an internal build kindly provided by the StarOffice product team as part of a bid we're working on. We're working to get a public build sorted. Theshots are actually xhosted from a Solaris x86 box to a colleague's Linux laptop, so don't be confused by the background start thinking Sun have changed the look and feel of JDS. This really shows Open Source at work. The translations, which still have a little way to go to be complete, were provided by a team lead by Alberto Escudero-Pascual. Alberto appears to be one of these open source maniacs who do tonnes of work on all sorts of different projects, often for no financial reward at all and whilst still managing to answer emails almost immediately and remain very helpful. Hats off to him and his team.
And don't forget, if you need to get rid of your litter - weka taka taka katika pipa. (Apparently that means 'use the garbage can'.)

Thursday Nov 24, 2005

Solaris x86 working perfectly and wirelessly

I expect anyone finding this via Google will be frustrated by this entry, but... After using what I think are internal tools and drivers only I have my Solaris x86 laptop now working perfectly with the wireless network in my flat. I also have an internal only tool that gives me a graphical interface to choose which network type to select and which lets me setup profiles so that I can quickly change IP addresses depending on my location and what I want to do. Fantastic! Here's my lovely assistant demonstrating my Toshiba S1 downloading Firefox from, wirelessly and power cord free.

Wednesday Jun 15, 2005

Playing with Solaris zones

Since I'm not flying this week (or for the next two weeks either!) I've had a chance to catch up on some of the technical stuff I've been meaning to play with. I finally gave Solaris Zones a try today. This link has a quick and easy 'getting started guide'/intro/howto.

Sunday Jun 12, 2005

USB printing from Solaris

I'm testing out USB printing from printers attached locally to Sun Rays in our iForce Centre tomorrow, so this evening I decided to give things a go using my laptop with Solaris 10, connected directly to an Epson Stylus 870 connected via USB. If it works when directly attached, it'll work with a Sun Ray, so I thought that some pre-testing would save me some time. How things have changed... If you have the latest version of Solaris 9 or 10, you just run the printmgr command and fill in the details. My printer happened to be on port /dev/printers/1 and the Epson ppd file comes with Solaris, so no need for CUPS. I selected the printer make and version and everything appears to print fine. The only issue is that I can't print in black, which is obviously a bit of a problem. Since printing in colour works perfectly however, I suspect this is something to do with the printer rather than with Solaris. The printer was shipped to Dubai nearly three years ago and has sat in a cupboard ever since, so may need some TLC to get working properly again. I'll post later about how I get on printing from Solaris to Sun Ray and from Windows to Solaris to Sun Ray. Update: The printer's been on for about 30 mins now and printing black now works fine - result!

Tuesday Mar 22, 2005

Solaris still not ready on the laptop

Still haven't got around to getting Solaris 10 fully functional on my laptop. This isn't because it can't be made to do so, it's just due to not having time. Anyway, when I'm in the office I use a Sun Ray and when I'm travelling I usually use wireless networks and the wireless card only has an experimental driver, so it's Windows only when out of town for now. Things I still need to do to get things working properly -
  • Get xorg.conf file for My Toshiba S1
  • Work out how to get DHCP to time out more quickly when booting offline
  • Follow Darren's advice to get GDM to be the default login handler
  • Get hold of experiemental wireless drivers and get them working
  • Use of Solaris 10 is definitely accelerating with the tech guys I work with. There seem to be two camps - Linux users who want to roll their own for fun or functional reasons, or people who want Solaris underneath for their own reasons. A lot of sales guys are fully JDS/Linux now, which is impressive. Those who travel a lot tend to use Windows still due to wireless card drivers and the like. Internal Sun Rays now run what ITOps are calling a 'JDS preview'. It's basically a nice JDS lookalike to be used until Sun Ray 3.0 is supported and deployed on Solaris 10 - currently all Sun Ray servers are Solaris 9 and there's no official JDS layer for Solaris 9. What's impressive about this is that they essentially upgraded the look and feel for 30,000 desktops in about a day. That really shows the power of Sun Ray. I've started using the 'preview' and I like it. I've used CDE for 6 years now and had got throughly used to it though, so at first I missed CDE's feeling of being quite nippy, but now I inifinitely prefer such 'modern' feature as a toolbar to which and from which I can minimise and maxinmise apps. I remember the guys who used to complain about CDE at Sun and claim OpenWindows was much faster though. There were still a few of those around in 1998 when I joined and one of them set up a Sun Ray based 'web cafe' at a place we sponsored at the time, using OpenWindows as the windowing manager. It made it look like we were installing some ancient dumb terminals, although CDE was only a little better.

    Monday Mar 07, 2005

    Solaris on the laptop finally

    Solaris x86 is now happily installed. Steps I took, inefficiently - Laptop had a Windows C and D drive, Linux root and Linux swap When installing Solaris, the install process could only see the Windows C drive and the Linux parttitions, so I deleted the Linux partitions using fdisk from the JDS install CD to see if it made any difference. Solaris still only saw the Windows C drive. Since all I had was some downloads and other stuff that was backed up elsewhere I installed Solaris, recreating a 35GB D partition in fdisk, aloong with a 10GB partition as part of the install. I used text mode as I'd read somewhere that the graphical install didn't allow you to use fdisk to create partitions – not sure if that's true or not. After installation Windows saw a D drive but didn't recognise it as FAT and wanted to format it. XP will only let you format with NTFS, which would be no good for cross mounting it to Solaris to use it as a shared data drive between the two Oses. Based on advice from one of the Solaris x86 install fest guys at CEC I downloaded a Linux system rescue CD and used the QT based partition tool to format the drive with FAT. I can now access it from both Solaris and Windows. Still on the list are sorting out Solaris running at full 1400x1050 resolution on the Toshiba Tecra I have. There's an internal site with xorg,conf settings I need to play with. After that I just need to install the Solaris 10 companion software and set up pkg-get ot get anything else I need. Seeing Solaris on my own laptop and seeing everyone installing it on their laptops at CEC was incredible when you think that only recently there was such a question mark hanging over Soalris x86. I'm looking forward ot using it as my default desktop OS and playing with zones and other nice stuff when I have spare moments sitting in planes. To make things perfect there's apparently a beta version of a driver for the Tecra's wireless card somewhere on SWAN, which should mean I can use Solaris pretty much exclusively.



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