Top 5 unsuccessful searches on OpenSolaris 2008.05

I read today notes from an OpenSolaris meeting where it was reported that the most common unsuccessful searches for OpenSolaris 2008.05 are following:

  • 1- sudo
  • 2- top
  • 3- mplayer
  • 4- vlc
  • 5- mc

As a relatively new user of OpenSolaris I also needed these packages - and found out that they are available, but you need to (re)search a bit. So let's take them one by one:

1. Sudo - OpenSolaris doesn't use sudo for executing processes with root privileges. However there is a similar command that comes inside of OpenSolaris distribution called pfexec. Pfexec allows you to execute programs with different privileges. See its man page for details. The most typical usage of sudo is:

sudo [some command]

In OpenSolaris you can do the same task by running:

pfexec [some command]

For example you cannot install a package as a regular user, thus in order to install Apache2 you need to run:

pfexec pkg install SUNWapch22

2. Top

Similarly as for sudo, there is a different command for "top" in OpenSolaris. It's called prstat.

You can simply run:


You'll see realtime information about processes similarly as when you use "top" in Linux.

3. Mplayer

I was searching for mplayer as well because of my home cinema (I bought a great projector so I am watching my favorite movies from OpenSolaris on a 2.5 meter projection on wall :) I'll blog about how to get external projection to work in one of the future posts. Mplayer is not available in the default IPS repository (  However you can get mplayer from Blastwave which has migrated to IPS quite recently. One disadvantage is that Blastwave installs many different packages in it's separate directory, but that's something I can live with - watching movies from OpenSolaris is more important for me than having a minimalistic distribution on my disk :).

To add the Blastwave repository you need to run:

pkg set-authority -O Blastwave

This command makes the Blastwave repository accessible for the "pkg" command. Then you can install mplayer using:

pfexec pkg install IPSmplayer

Now you can watch your favorite movies on OpenSolaris (note that Blastwave programs are in /opt/csw/bin). I strongly suggest to add this directory to default path and run mplayer or you can run mplayer using /opt/csw/bin/mplayer.

4. Vlc

I was also trying to install Vlc on OpenSolaris recently because mplayer doesn't handle some of the streaming video well and Vlc player is much better for it. Vlc player is also available in the Blastwave repository, however I had limited success with it - I couldn't get the video to run. Maybe you'll have better success (or the package might get updated), so to get Vlc run:

pfexec pkg install IPSvlc

You can then run vlc using the /opt/csw/bin/vlc command (or again add /opt/csw/bin to default path and run just vlc).

5. Mc

Midnight commander is my favorite file manager. Yes, the UI looks very arcane, it looks like the old good Norton Commander (or my favorite Volkov Commander - I am from Eastern Europe :) At any case it's a very useful piece of software, unfortunately not available in the standard distribution.

You can get Midnight Commander from the default repository easily by running:

pfexec pkg install SUNWgnu-mc

Then simply run mc.

I will try to get a more complete listing of the search results and see if I can find the most requested applications and blog about how to get them on OpenSolaris. Note that getting more packages to OpenSolaris is now an important goal so you'll see more and more software easily available for OpenSolaris in near future.


For Solaris installers, which want an easy way to install things, there is the Solaris 10 Companion DVD on, which contains a lot of useful freeware tools.

It's useful, if you don't want to hassle with single packets, but it is not as up to date as blastwave.

The commands are prefixed with a g, but i like this, since it makes it easier to use precisely the command i want. Your taste may be different.

You will need some Gigabytes to install the stuff, if you don't want to go into package selection, which i prefer, since i raise my time atop of disk space.

Posted by Knut Grunwald on June 25, 2008 at 05:55 AM GMT #

You can still use sudo and top in solaris, and they work rather well for ordinary users. However I agree that it is better to introduce users to the solaris variants which are better integrated to the system.

Posted by Marc on June 25, 2008 at 06:13 AM GMT #

Why not add a symlink for sudo and top? Or even at least a small blurb as to why they don't exist.

First time users are a bit lost when they're not there.

I do miss "whereis"

Posted by Abraham Tehrani on June 25, 2008 at 08:04 AM GMT #

Marc, top and sudo don't work for me on OpenSolaris 2008.05 out of the box. Do I need to install some package?

Abraham, I agree it might be useful to add symlink to these commands, however it may be also a bit tricky because they both pfexec and prstat behave differently than their Linux variants. A blurb that you need to run something else would be very useful IMO.

Posted by Roman Strobl on June 25, 2008 at 09:06 AM GMT #

Abraham, I did a search for whereis and it seems to be available in the SUNWscp package.

Posted by Roman Strobl on June 25, 2008 at 01:46 PM GMT #

I would be ticked at having to switch from top and sudo to some obscure command.

to me it would feel as though open solaris was different just to be different. I can't think of a reason for that difference that would mitigate the frustration I would be feeling.

Posted by Tom Corbin on June 25, 2008 at 04:57 PM GMT #


I absolutely agree with you. I'm Linux user for 15 years and I'm sometimes looking for something new. I tried Solaris a few times and everytime I left it because my favorite commands didn't work. I know that there are some nice features (zfs, ...) but why to play with it if it (at first sight) does the same as Linux does?

At home I'm using Linux, at work we are using linux and my collegues (and me to) don't want to learn new names for old commands.

If Sun wants to promote Solaris for desktop users (for whom it mplayer and vlc?) then it needs to make it friendlier to (potentialy ex-)Linux users.

Roumen (and his team) did great job for NetBeans so I'm sure he will repeat the success at Solaris.


Posted by Tom on June 25, 2008 at 11:09 PM GMT #

If you like top, you might want to give sysstat for Solaris a try, which shows a lot more information than top. Get it at www dot maier-komor dot de slash sysstat dot html (

Posted by Thomas Maier-Komor on June 26, 2008 at 12:49 AM GMT #


it's nice, that you give Solaris a try. You can make it a lot like linux on the "bash"-level, if you use blastwave.

You might want to give Nexenta a try, since it should have a bunch of GNU Tools packed with it.

I use top and prstat depending on what i want to know. A tool like the task manager would be fine sometimes. With OS-9/68k there was a tool called maps, which looked at intervalls at a single process, which comes handy, if you are for stuck or looping processes.

I made my own tool for solaris, which displays all changed items of the process descriptors in intervalls for a log. The intervall is synchronized to the time granule (5 second intervall => 40 45 50 not 41) so you can start it on several computers, if you are watching communication partners.

What does this tell ?
Solaris does not want to be different, but the reason for implementing the tools was different, so they look different. Since the size of the cd is limited, you have to decide what to pack and what to make available for download.

Why it had to be on a cd and not a dvd ?
I don't know.

Posted by Knut Grunwald on June 26, 2008 at 04:37 AM GMT #

People are hit vlc and mplayer because they are looking for codec.
I think, and I am sure others would agree that, This should be consider more seriously as a major usability blocker to OpenSolaris. In comparison against the likes of Ubuntu and Fedora.
I hope Sun puts its R&D back bond behind;
So that it gets resolved quickly.

Posted by Edward OCallaghan on June 26, 2008 at 06:36 AM GMT #

Hi Ed, codecs are a hot topic in OpenSolaris engineering now - we are looking for a good solution (it's not easy because it may require Sun to pay non-trivial license fees). I agree it's a major usability blocker. You can expect progress in this front, hopefully soon.

Posted by Roman Strobl on June 26, 2008 at 07:23 AM GMT #

You can now almost hold your breath for sudo:

Posted by Joep Vesseur on June 26, 2008 at 07:26 AM GMT #

Any "locate" equivalent? Am I stuck with "find"?

Posted by Alexis MP on July 26, 2008 at 02:18 AM GMT #

I like midnight commander too. Unfortunately it doesn't appear to be at the repository you mentioned any more. :(

Posted by ac on August 12, 2008 at 12:31 PM GMT #

Really? I installed it just yesterday (SUNW-gnumc). It's in the default repository.

Posted by Roman Strobl on August 13, 2008 at 12:54 AM GMT #

PLs include Qualcomm Wireless CDMA modem drivers in Opensolaris package.I am unable to connect LG CDMA phone to my ISP account Tata Indicom in India through Opensolaris running on AMD Athlon PC

Posted by sandeep banerjee on October 07, 2008 at 11:14 PM GMT #

Prt commands are better replacement for top anyway. I just wish there was more desktop things like um a DVD burner that you dont have to use CSW for.
Admin for linux users is on cuddletech by ben rockwood

Posted by Anthony on October 14, 2008 at 12:23 PM GMT #

for VLC you can install it from

Posted by thanhson on November 06, 2008 at 11:11 AM GMT #

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