Wednesday Mar 26, 2008

FAQ: Difference between OpenSolaris, Solaris Express etc, etc.


I'm often asked the relationship between the various Solaris named products that Sun provides.  Here is my view on them:

OpenSolaris is a SOURCE code project at from which a number of actual products may be derived including:

  • Portions of Solaris 10
  • Solaris Express and SX Dev. Edition
  • xVM Server
  • Project Indiana

Solaris Nevada is the portion of Open Solaris community code that includes only the kernel (OS and Networking consolidations). Running uname on this build indicates SunOS 5.11.

Solaris Express Community Edition is Sun's binary release for OpenSolaris developers (code named "Nevada"). It is built from the latest OpenSolaris source and additional technology that has not been published in the OpenSolaris source base. This release is unsupported. Developers can build the OpenSolaris source by using this release as the base system. It is updated every other Friday.

Solaris Express Developers Edition, includes Solaris Express Community Edition along with the development tools (Netbeans, Studio etc) in a single installation to simplify life for developers. The Developer Edition is released every three to four months and replaces the Solaris Express monthly release.

Project Indiana is currently in preview edition two.  The OpenSolaris Developer Preview is the first milestone of Project Indiana. It is a single CD combined live/install image: a core operating system, kernel, system libraries, a desktop environment and a package management system. It is not a final release and is intended for developers to try, test, and provide feedback.

Solaris 10
is our enterprise ready, supported version of Solaris.  It is updated less frequently and provdes a stable platform for deployment of long term applications.

They are ALL free to download use in a production environment.  If you need support for Solaris 10 you can choose from a variety of Solaris 10 subscriptions on Sun or non-Sun hardware (Sparc, Intel or AMD based).

Thursday Nov 01, 2007

Installing Open Solaris "Indiana Preview" on my Mac (part 1)

NOTE:  No CD-ROM was harmed in this exercise. I shall waste no plastic before its time.

Warning:  I am testing a Preview product on top of a beta product using virtulization on MacOS.  You results may vary.

This is just what I could get on the blog the first day.  More to come....  First I must prioritize my day job activities!

Wow!  Project Indiana is available today in a developer preview.  I had to have it to see if everything they told us at the recent OS Amb preview was true.  My system:

  • MacBook Pro 2.4 Ghz with 2 GB RAM
  • VMware Fusion 1.1RC1 beta

 What is Project Indiana?

It is intended to be a binary distribution of the OpenSolaris code provided by and supported by Sun.  This developer preview is the first step to a released product expected in March 2008.  It includes the latest technologies and will have a faster changing and shorter life cycle than Solaris 10.  More detail is available at the Project Indiana FAQ.

Who should use project Indiana?

At this time it is intended for developers and testers only.  When it becomes a supported product in 2008, we anticipate it will be used by a wide variety of customers inproduction who required the advanced features of OpenSolaris and can tolerate the shorter life cycle support model. 

How did it go? 

First I downloaded it and read some of the release notes and caveats including important points such as:

  • Live CD format provide (yes that's CD not DVD)
  • X86 version ONLY today (the liveCD uses the 32-bit kernel but will install both 32 and 64-bit capability)
  • ZFS as the native root file system
  • Network Automagic included
  • No custom disk partitioning.

With the ISO on my Mac, I created a VM for it to live in with 1 GB of RAM and 10 GB of disk space.  The ISO booted perfectly into "Live CD mode."  NWAM automatically detected my network address.  I wasted no time in clicking the Installer.  After a few questions about time zone, root password and initial non-root user, the installation started and took about 22 minutes to complete.  After installations was complete, I clicked the Reboot button and the system started up from the virtual HD.  The installation experience was quite easy and fast.

At this time, VMware Fusion 1.1RC1 has a bug that causes the 64-bit kernel to "hang" for about 1-2 minutes during the early boot process.  Changing the Grub menu to boot the 32-bit kernel is a workaround for this issues.

Once I logged into the new Gnome 2.20 interface, I attempted to install the Vmware tools.  This is necessary for the proper screen displays and file sharing. Unfortunately, I received the error that it could not copy a file to /usr/dt/config/Xsession.d/  Manually creating the Xsession.d directory allowed the VMware tools to complete.  Although the installation of tools complete, it caused a problem with login where my keyboard was mapped wrong.  I could NOT log into Gnome because of this issue and didn't have time to workaround it. 

What's different for the user?

  • Default shell is bash
  • Java Desktop System is not installed by default. This means that there is no "Launch" menu in the lower left.  Menus are in the upper right.  Panels are enabled at the top and bottom.
  • /usr/gnu/bin is at the beginning of the user's path
  • There is a minimal set of software loaded.  The pkg command can be used to get additional components from the software repository.
  • The grub menu is now in  /zpl_slim/boot/grub/menu.lst  rather than /boot/grub/menu.lst

Interesting bug/oddities

The file browser lists a "Documents" in the Favorites sidebar, but clicking on it produces an error because it doesn't exist.

Dave Miner has published instructions on how to place Indiana in a USB drive. 

Why should you care?

If you are interested in testing, developing and contributing to the future of Solaris, this preview will give you a taste of where we want Solaris to go and the opportunity to joint the community.



Jim Laurent is an Oracle Sales consultant based in Reston, Virginia. He supports US DoD customers as part of the North American Public Sector hardware organization. With over 17 years experience at Sun and Oracle, he specializes in Solaris and server technologies. Prior to Oracle, Jim worked 11 years for Gould Computer Systems (later known as Encore).


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