Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Move Towards Solaris...

I got bored with Debian GNU/Linux so one day when I was browsing in my local Dymocks store I chanced upon Solaris Internals (2nd Edition). I couldn't decide whether to buy it straight away or to order it from Angus & Robertson who give a standing 20% discount on all computer books; I decided to put a book order in - a wise choice because I ran out of money unexpectedly that week.

For reasons still unknown to me - call it professional interest - but I'd been trying to install a Solaris on x86 operating system for some four years. Back in those days, if I recall correctly, I did get a machine to actually boot into Solaris with one big but: it booted into the Common Desktop Environment (CDE), which I might say is one of the most awful GUI systems I've seen.

It makes Windows 3.1 look glorified!

Anyway, I resurrected a 650Mhz AMD Athlon with just 256Mb of RAM and a 40Gb, slowish hard drive. Patiently I changed over 6 CDs as I eventually got Open Solaris to install. The experience reminded me of installing Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 using floppy disks, however unlike those experiences:

The desktop manager, GNOME, did not work at all!

You might say that I was not a happy camper. You might also say that I was most annoyed that the Open Solaris developers correctly identified the problem as a GNOME problem and provided absolutely no hints on how to fix it, well at least none that worked for me. I was disappointed...

About this time, I started to talk to the LinuxSA mailing list. I detailed that problem plus maybe one or another and someone mentioned a distribution called NexentaOS - a GNU/Solaris type offering. This had me scampering to their site and downloading their LiveCD.

Now, I've used Live CDs and I've used LiveCDs. Let's just say that NexentaOS' LiveCD boots so slowly and brings up the desktop so slowly that you'll probably be dead by the time it actually does boot. In fact, there's an FAQ or instruction which essentially states it takes ages upon ages to startup.

All that aside, it eventually did impress me. Why? Not for any sensible reason but because it had sound!

I hate configuring sound. Sound is one of those subsystems that my early days of: fight with ALSO, OSS, ESD, kArts and other random things just made me give up on unix/linux and sound. It was way too hard. Therefore, when I found a LiveCD whose sound actually worked, I took notice...

And I took the full version home and started a plan to move from Debian GNU/Linux to NexentaOS.

More later!

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