I have tried out OpenSolaris before, and my impression it was just not interesting enough for a mere desktop user like me. Sure, it has some seemly cool features, like DTrace and ZFS. However, DTrace is aimed for developers. And there weren’t any good applications that showcases the power of ZFS.
It also has power management problems for a sole laptop user like me. It wasn’t able to hibernate, or suspend. Which kind of sucks. The package repository is sparse compared to Linux distros like Fedora, Ubuntu or Debian.
All that said, I am always open to trying new things. So when I read that new version of OpenSolaris has been released last November, I ordered the free LiveCD. It took some time to arrive, and it took even longer time for me to try out, because I am quite busy. But now I think I can write some initial impression.
First, it is pretty looking. Okay, that was rather shallow. But it is nice to have. It also doesn’t have problems with my hardware, except perhaps webcam (which is troublesome even on Linux). It doesn’t support suspend out of the box. Sun said they only activated suspend support on certain hardware, and my laptop is not one of them. Still, after some googling I can enable the suspend support, which seems to work without problems.
OpenSolaris 2008.11 uses standard GNOME desktop, which may or may not be an advantage. It is certainly familiar for me. Sun includes some standard applications found in typical Linux distros, such as Rhythmbox, Totem Video Player, Mozilla Firefox and Pidgin Internet Messenger. However, Sun cannot decide between Evolution and Thunderbird, so they choose too bundle both. Sun also don’t include any word processor or spreadsheet applications, which is a kind of warning to desktop users.
However you can easily install OpenOffice.org suite using the Package Manager, whose interface reminds me of Synaptic from Debian/Ubuntu.
Package management in OpenSolaris is still a thing I am yet to master. That is, I can’t do it from the command line yet. Meanwhile I am managing it from the GUI.
Sun integrate a nice a “Time Machine” snapshot feature to Nautilus, which I suspect is uses ZFS. It is nice that there is a good, albeit simple, application that utilises the powerful features of the filesystem.