Migration from Debian to OpenSolaris

Taking the advantage of the Christmas break, I took the time and migrated my system from well-known Debian Linux to OpenSolaris. My goal was to make the new environment match my Linux setup as close as possible. Among other things, this meant moving from KDE 3.5.x to GNOME, which I was avoiding as much as possible until now, and Nimbus (the look&feel is great!). Maybe some of the remarks obtained during this process can be interesting for others.

Without going to much detail about individual things, I though I'd put down the results in this article and leave the details open for comments or next articles, if there's demand. So feel free to leave a comment asking for specifics for the listed items.



What went fine:

Filesystem support

  • zfs: it's great to create a compressed zfs filesystem for specific files, like repository clones, or enable time-slider for the home directory for easy rollbacks
  • NTFS read-write support: compiled and installed ntfs-3g project
  • ext2/ext3 read support: installed Belenix binary packages, thanks for that!
    only minor drawback being it doesn't handle files larger than 2GB

Desktop

  • panel reconfiguration: weather and system monitoring applets, one-icon menu button
  • desktop widgets: conky/superkaramba -> SUNWgdesklets
  • keyboard shortcuts redefinition: desktop switching, window maximization, disable F10, etc.
    (looking for a hint on how to disable the system-wide 'F1')
  • xmodmap key redefinition: add Ins/Del functionality to AltGr/R_Win (~/.xmodmap)
  • BSOD screensaver: SUNWxscreensaver-hacks :)

Applications and their alternatives

  • sunstudioexpress, netbeans, gcc, mercurial, mc, vncviewer, ant, OpenOffice.org, gimp (SUNWgnome-img-editor), slocate, gqview, pidgin and more...
  • virtualbox: pulled version 2.0.6 from the Extra repository
  • mplayer: compiled from source using this guide
    unfortunately, http://lifewithsolaris.jp is no longer an option, the repository is down now :(

Application preferences

  • iceweasel -> firefox (~/.mozilla/firefox profiles, addons, passwords, bookmarks); guide
  • icedove -> thunderbird (~/.thunderbird, mail filters)
  • teminal: keyboard shortcut and system-wide default size modification to fit 4 terminal windows on the desktop (/usr/share/vte/termcap/xterm :co#80:it#8:li#25:\\)
  • pidgin (~/.purple)
  • vim (~/.vimrc, ~/.vim; backspace to work over line boundary: set backspace=indent,eol,start)
  • netbeans (~/.netbeans, contains explicit home directory in many files, this may need setting up from scratch)
  • mercurial with patch queue support (~/.hgrc :hgext.mq =)
  • and more (~/.ssh, ~/.bashrc, ...)

Miscellaneous

  • change the user id (UID) of the user created during installation process (NFS)
  • vpn (punchin)
  • mercurial bash_completion (/usr/demo/mercurial/bash_completion)

Some of what's left to do:

  • some keyboard, mostly gnome-terminal, stuff: Home/End keys, Del key, Previous/Next buttons
  • printing: CUPS?
  • Acrobat Reader: is planned for 2009; evince will do for now
  • Amarok: seems I'll miss this one until KDE4 is on IPS somewhere or I decide to compile it myself
  • kdiff3 or equivalent
  • k3b or equivalent (SUNWbrasero?)
  • get ATi to work: core-dumps now; I'm using on-board Intel; Xorg 1.5 should help
  • ethereal/wireshark
  • system-wide bash completion (/etc/bash_completion)
  • sshmount
Comments:

So, basically, you managed to move to an immature system and pretend to be OK with that... Don't get me wrong, I think Solaris is a great server OS, but most GNU/Linux distributions nowadays are far ahead of what Solaris can provide to a desktop user. Please ask yourself: what is/was the advantage of moving to Solaris?

Posted by Anonymous Coward on March 12, 2010 at 04:01 PM CET #

Rest assured I asked myself this question. Fun, challenge, learning new stuff, first-hand experience on system we work with. Feature set is changing rapidly and looking at the list here, it really made a leap in the past year. A thing to love, which is not available on Linux is clearly zfs.

Posted by Jan Hnatek on March 12, 2010 at 04:48 PM CET #

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