Feeds

OpenSolaris still has some Linux copying to do

Keep baking, boys

Top three mobile application threats

Review Sun has made good on its promise to deliver OpenSolaris, the company's Unix-based answer to Linux, with a company-supported, commercial update arriving in mid-May. Although far from a complete product, the latest OpenSolaris is impressive and in the long run could prove a viable alternative to Linux.

Part of OpenSolaris' appeal is that it contains a subset of the source code for the Solaris Operating System, but with an open source license. Among the familiar Sun features are the enviable DTrace tuning and monitoring tool and the ever-impressive ZFS filesystem, neither of which are likely to make it to Linux due to licensing and personality conflicts.

On the other hand, larger Linux efforts like Debian (which is the basis of Ubuntu) have an impressive range of open source software packages which, so far, OpenSolaris can't match.

However, given that OpenSolaris can potentially expand its package support far more easily than Linux can start shipping a DTrace equivalent, OpenSolaris may prove a powerful competitor in the years to come.

As it stands we wouldn't recommend OpenSolaris to the casual user; there's enough gotchas and quirks to make running OpenSolaris a bit more of a headache than Linux (of course that largely depends on your hardware).

Still, given that much of OpenSolaris' potential audience are developers interested in its underlying tools like Dtrace or "containers," we wouldn't hesitate to recommend it for advanced users. Just beware that the hardware driver support is nowhere near that of Linux rivals.

Drivers Wanted

Back when OpenSolaris was first released, we found its device driver support lacking and unfortunately not much has changed on that front. OpenSolaris had trouble with our Thinkpad T61 Wifi drivers and did no better with an older Toshiba laptop. The only successful connection we managed to get was from OpenSolaris running in VMWare on a MacBook.

Screenshot of the Open Solaris install screen

Open, Open Solaris

Some things have improved since the initial release though - most notably the installer. Cranking up OpenSolaris is as easy as mainstream Linux distros - just pop in a live CD and select the install option. OpenSolaris will then walk you through the setup and reboot once your system is installed.

The Live CD desktop includes a launcher for the Device Driver Utility, which makes it much easier to see which of your devices have drivers attached and which do not. If there isn't anything red in the Device Driver Utility list, then all your hardware should be supported just fine. If you get warnings, it's probably better to look and see if drivers exist before you go ahead with the installation.

Screenshot of Open Solaris showing missing audio driver

Driver doldrums - Click to Enlarge

If you're looking to setup a dual boot system it's not too difficult. As long as you're using GRUB as your bootloader you should be okay. But have a look through the OpenSolaris docs, there's a couple of gotchas -- like making sure the Solaris partition precedes the Linux swap partition.

Once OpenSolaris is installed, you'll be prompted to reboot. Grab of cup of something strong because it's the longest boot time you're likely to encounter (unless you have a copy of Mac OS 9 lying around).

By default OpenSolaris boots into the GNOME desktop environment, which is similar to what you'll find in Ubuntu and other Debian Linux distros, though with OpenSolaris you'll be using GNOME 2.20, missing out of some of the latest and greatest GNOME features (Ubuntu, Fedora and others currently ship with GNOME 2.22).

Despite being a version behind the curve, if you're comfortable with Ubuntu, OpenSolaris will look familiar. All the GNOME panels, file manager, and customization options work just as you would expect. The most noticeable difference is that Sun has included a very slick theme by the name of Nimbus, which uses gradients and drop shadows to create a very attractive look, along the lines of Fedora 9 and miles ahead of Ubuntu's somewhat ugly brown theme.

Most of the typical GNOME apps are present - Firefox is the default web browser, Thunderbird and Evolution are both included along with all the games and most of the smaller GNOME apps as well.

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
OpenBSD founder wants to bin buggy OpenSSL library, launches fork
One Heartbleed vuln was too many for Theo de Raadt
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS: Great changes, but sssh don't mention the...
Why HELLO Amazon! You weren't here last time
Got Windows 8.1 Update yet? Get ready for YET ANOTHER ONE – rumor
Leaker claims big release due this fall as Microsoft herds us into the CLOUD
Patch iOS, OS X now: PDFs, JPEGs, URLs, web pages can pwn your kit
Plus: iThings and desktops at risk of NEW SSL attack flaw
Next Windows obsolescence panic is 450 days from … NOW!
The clock is ticking louder for Windows Server 2003 R2 users
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
Apple inaugurates free OS X beta program for world+dog
Prerelease software now open to anyone, not just developers – as long as you keep quiet
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.