For a few days recently I have been looking at the future of packaging, pkg(5) or IPS. IPS looks really powerful and quite simple. It will allow us to generate fixes and deliver them much more simply. What I've been thinking about is how and when will we generate fixes using this mechanism.
Any way as a result I've signed up for firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Both of these are very active and full of interesting discussions (and arguments) and ideas. Anyway, it's not surprising there has been so much activity recently. Today indiana-discuss announced the launch of the developer preview of the opensolaris binary distribution. So I tried it out on a couple of machines. My laptop first, an Acer Ferrari 4005. Everything just worked. The LiveCD booted up, really quickly actually, well done the team for getting the performance up so well. Even wireless worked, though that's probably because I've already swapped the Broadcom wireless miniPCI card for an Atheros one. Unfortunately I have no spare slices available on the laptop so I move on to my next machine.
This is my home PC, usually running WindowsXP for the kids, it has never successfully Solaris for reasons that will become apparent. I have just upgraded the hard drive so theres 60Gb partition free for me to do some damage.
Booting the livecd failed, or rather Xorg failed to display anything. My machine is an old Athlon XP2600 with an AGP radeon x1600pro graphics card. Great for games, but unfortunately the Solaris/OpenSolaris Radeon driver doesn't support it. Fortunately Stephan Hahn blogged about how to get Xorg to use the vesa driver from the livecd. With that in place I got the gnome gui up and gave the install a go.
The installer uses dwarf-caiman, a cut down slim line installer which is nice and easy to navigate. The install itself was really quick - there's only a CD's worth installed. The rest should be added later over the web from the IPS repository. Unfortunately that is where my old machine creaked too much. The onboard ethernet is an nforce2 gigabit ethernet. It should work with the nge driver but I think it's just too old. I tried adding an alias for it using
# add_drv '"pci10de,66"' nge
But even though I could plumb it there was no traffic going through it :-( I guess I'll have to find another ethernet card.
The install claimed it failed, but it did come up fine after a reboot, though I had to add a user again at single user because the useradd hadn't worked. Warning here. root is just a role that users can take on - so you can't log in as root as you might expect from a "normal" solaris system.
I'm pretty impressed. Nice installer, lightweight liveCD to get you started. zfs root and pkg(5) to add new stuff (or it will when I get a new ethernet adapter. I wonder if I can get one of my old USB wireless sticks to work :-). Plus it seems to be more responsive under OpenSolaris than windows XP.
Do give it a go, it is one vision of the future of opensolaris