opensolaris-yet-again-notes, #1: post installation impressions

Following an extensive discussion on evolving around the question whether Suns OpenSolaris distribution is just a bad GNU/Linux distribution, I once again did a chance downloading a recent build off, installed with the motivation of trying to use it in everyday work for a couple of times to see where it gets me. As I usually do my everyday work exclusively using xubuntu, all comparisons just will relate to features that this platform provides, knowing that I use this distribution because at the moment it fits all my needs so there, generally, is nothing “more” I need at the moment, leaving these features being met the minimum requirements talking about OpenSolaris.

So, starting this, a few first impressions after successfully installing this ISO:

  • Installation speed seems to have somewhat improved; overally, on my machine this time it was done in under an hour (and I once again had to burn it to a DVD medium because the ISO didn’t work copied to an USB stick using unetbootin.
  • Even during running the live system and doing the installation, I merrily figured out that by now I am finally able to access my WEP encrypted home WLAN using the OpenSolaris network manager (which, in earlier versions, failed for whichever reasons). So one thing being a big issue to me in the past seems gone. Good work.
  • Starting up the system for the first time, I again had the comfortable feeling that speed has improved, both talking about bootup and logging in to the GNOME desktop which is the default (and only?) desktop environment supported out of the box. Speed also was an issue in the past at times, so this is generally good, although I have to see what happens if the system is “under load”.
  • This morning, however, I had to figure out that OpenSolaris, though providing a display configuration dialog, doesn’t out of the box allow for using a desktop that spans two different displays – although both my external TFT and my notebook LVDS display were correctly recognized in terms of resolution and frequency, I figured out that after setting things the way I wanted them to be, the tool eventually complained that the maximum allowed screen size is smaller than the extended screen I was trying to create. Oh well.
  • A minor issue that still is unresolved in my opinion is that, talking about desktop applications, fonts look slightly and in a subtle way different in applications like Firefox or Thunderbird and the rest of the screen. This is strange and I remember fighting with this in the past, so I will have to remember how I resolved this earlier. At startup, it doesn’t really look homogenous.
  • The only issue left during installation that really is annoying, always was and always will be, is that OpenSolaris, same as blind as another operating system, quietly discards any currently installed bootloader and replaces it with its own grub installation, pointing to the OpenSolaris installation and to some imaginary “Windows” installation that doesn’t at all refer to a meaningful drive or partition. I can’t really imagine what could be so hard about making the installer at least ask whether or not to install a boot loader and/or letting it include existing operating systems correctly.

So much as a start, seeing that some has changed for the better and some hasn’t. More to come later, as soon as I managed to restore my X installment which I broke somewhere all along following this blog post regarding multi-monitor setup. Shouldn’t be too hard, then again. :)