OpenSolaris vs Solaris

This weekend I went to install the new Communications Suite with Convergence and I decieded to install OpenSolaris 2008.5 on my machine and put the Comms Suite in a zone on it (so I could easily blow it away after my testing was done..)

Let me be probably not the first to say that OpenSolaris != Solaris.. I have been using Solaris 10 since it was in beta, and OpenSolaris through me for a couple of loops…

First are some of the cool things I liked:

1. The interface, it is updated and seemed a lot faster.

2. The ease of “patching” only took about half an hour to do a pkg image update.

3. Zfs root made it easy to roll back changes..

Now the parts that i had problems with and did not like too well.

1. I had to download a driver for my ethernet card as the one Sun delivers (sk98sol) is still too old and did not support my card which is one built on to a 3+ year old motherboard.

2. To create a zone, you MUST have a network connection (and at least to the internet for the time being). This really made me mad as I sometimes don’t have access to the Internet, and if I need to create a zone, I don’t want to have to wait for it to download 200+ Mb of packages, that are already on the machine in the first place.

3. No more “full root zones”, I created a zone in the hopes of installing the Comms Suite in it, only to find out that it was not a full root zone and stuff that is required by the Comms Installer to be there wasn’t and therefor I could not install it… Such simple things like unzip and perl are missing from the newly created zone.

In the end, I ended up reinstalling the box with Solaris 10 05/08, which was a task in itself. See when you install OpenSolaris it makes the root drive zfs, and did  some weird things to the VTOC. Therefore when I went in to do the install of the “older” Solaris 10 05/08, the installer would show me the disk, let me “carve” it up like I wanted in the gui and via command line, but when the install went to go on, the installer always came back saying that there was not enough disk to install Solaris. What I ended up having to do was go and do a “format -e” and then fdisk and delete the Solaris partition that was made by OpenSolaris, and let the Solaris installer create it’s own fdisk partition again.

So after finally getting Solaris 10 installed and the latest Recommended/Security/Sun Alert patches put on, I called it a night and left the Comms install for next weekend.

Overall I think OpenSolaris is going in the right direction, but there needs to be a lot of things fixed in it.. The biggest is the zones, there should be an option for “cloning” the already installed OS, since it is already on a ZFS pool. The second is that there should be an option when creating the zone as to what kind of zone it should be, whether a full (which would load every package, so you don’t have to try and do it  your self), sparse or maybe a new one called Jail which has everything in it read only.